Independiente aren’t yet out of the hunt for a Copa Sudamericana place, but if they qualify for continental competition they’ll be playing in it next season without their top scorer Germán Denis, whose transfer to Napoli is looking more and more like a done deal. Colón manager Antonio ‘El Turco‘ Mohamed, meanwhile, is refusing to apologise for insulting the referee near the end of his side’s match with Estudiantes on Sunday – an action for which he was sent off.
Denis will get a second bite of the Italian cherry (he previously played for Cesena in Serie C1 but scored only three goals in an unhappy first period in Europe) alongside countrymen Ezequiel Lavezzi and young goalkeeper Nicolás Navarro at the Stadio San Paolo. The Italian club, who will play in the third round of the Intertoto Cup and must be hopeful of qualifying for the UEFA Cup, have agreed to pay US$11 million, of which, after taxes, agents’ fees and so on, Independiente will see about US$8.5 million.
‘It’s certain,’ Jorge Cyterszpiler, the agent contracted to deal with the transfer, the man who once took Diego Maradona to Napoli. ‘They’re very interested in signing him, they know him well. I’ve already met with Julio [Comparada, Independiente president], and I’m optimistic. But whatever happens, [Denis] will play Arsenal on the last day.’ He won’t, however, be staying any longer than that.
Mohamed, for his part, was unrepentant when given the chance to apologise to Héctor Baldassi for storming onto the pitch to yell at the referee after Baldassi failed to award a penalty for a clear foul by Estudiantes’ Ezequiel Maggiolo on Darío Gandín six minutes from the end – a win would have virtually ended Colón’s relegation worries going into the last-day, winner-takes-all clash with Racing. ‘It’s happened already, I won’t punish him any more…’ El Turco told reporters on Monday, albeit without actually apologising. ‘It was a very clear penalty that’s going to form a precedent. With a victory, we’d have been practically out of [relegation worries]. But there’s nothing we can do…’
Nothing, indeed. Except, perhaps, meditate on some of the bad decisions that have gone against Racing this season.