Odd to be thinking this, never mind writing it, so soon after the previous season ended in South America (and delayed congratulations, by the way, to forwards Damián Mansó and Claudio Bieler, and manager Edgardo Bauza for ensuring some Argentine glory in the Copa Libertadores as Liga de Quito beat Fluminense on penalties last week), but the pre-season is now well and truly underway around the world. Independiente played a friendly in the United States on Thursday, Racing boss Juan Manuel Llop has made up his mind to seriously cut the deadwood from his squad, and Colón have definitely lost Martín Bravo – he’s going to Mexico.
Independiente played very poorly against Columbus Crew, who are halfway through the Major League Soccer season and were able to rest a number of their most important players, including former Boca legend Guillermo Barros Schelotto, for Saturday when they play Real Salt Lake in a competitive match. Unsurprisingly for their first match of the pre-season, El Rojo lacked any rhythm, and conceded twice in four minutes before Pablo Vitti got a consolation after coming off the bench fairly late on. Not a result to take too much from, though, and Independiente fans are unlikely to be too disappointed.
When the ten-foot high hedge at the bottom of our garden here in rural south-west England started growing over into our garden, my parents got a new hedge-trimmer and my mum, slightly over-enthusiastically, decided to massacre the thing. It looks Juan Manuel Llop’s been taking some tips from her. It’s not been reported whether he did it with a chainsaw, but he’s made it very clear to José Chatruc and Maximiliano Estévez that their services won’t be required in the coming season. OK, I hear you say, two players. It’s not much of an axe-attack, just a slight trimming. But he didn’t stop there.
As well as Facundo Sava, whose contract won’t be renewed, another eight players (at least) will be dropped. The exact names and numbers vary depending on which paper / website you read. Those who are definitely sweating on their futures, though, include Diego Menghi, Reinaldo Navia, Sebastián Arrieta and Bernardo Leyenda. If Adrián Bastía can’t be sold to Asteras Tripoli of Greece, he’ll probably retire. Goalkeeper Hilario Navarro, meanwhile, is a target for Vélez Sársfield.
Martín Bravo, following his Oscar Ahumada-like conflict with Colón, has been unveiled in Mexico City as the newest member of UNAM’s (aka Pumas) squad. Pablo Garnier joined the Colón squad for training though, as did fellow new arrivals Nicolás Torres (from Tigre) and midfielder Sebastián Sciorilli from River Plate. Colón’s directors had met with Bravo’s agent, the fantastically-surnamed Julio Tymczycym (no, I didn’t just faint on my keyboard), to try and reach an agreement prior to the player’s signing for UNAM, but nothing could be done. ‘If they’d equalled the offers we had from abroad, [Bravo] could have carried on at Colón’, Tymczycym said, knowing full well that a provincial Argentine side can’t afford anywhere near the financial offers of a major Mexican club.