Independiente have pulled off a bit of a transfer coup by signing promising young Chilean midfielder Gary Medel from Universidad Católica. Medel, aged 21 and looked on for some time as one of the bright young things of the South American game, makes the trek across the Andes with around US$2.5 million going in the other direction. River Plate manager Néstor Gorosito, meanwhile, has announced his new captain, and it’s an interesting choice given some of the player’s words to the fans in 2008…
Independiente manager Miguel Angel Santoro wanted two midfielders in as reinforcements for the Rojo squad, and Medel should prove a pretty tasty addition to a side determined to improve on their showing from the 2008 Torneo Apertura. Medel is the most visible of a crop of exciting young Chilean talents, and scored twice – one a spectacular chilena, appropriately enough – on his debut for the national team last year as they beat Bolivia 2-0 in the World Cup qualifiers.
Independiente have agreed to pay in the region of US$2.5 million for 50% of Medel’s registration, and have secured the Chilean Footballer Of The Year in spite of rival bids from the likes of River, Bayern München, Villarreal and Mexican side Atlas. It should give Medel something to cheer up about, too – he was involved (without serious consequences) in a car crash a couple of weeks ago. Porto midfielder Mario Bolatti is also set to join the Avellaneda side, with final details on his loan contract still to be agreed with the Portuguese champions.
Gorosito’s new captain will be Oscar Ahumada, the man who looked like he was going to be forced out of the club following comments aimed at the fans after the side were eliminated from the Copa Libertadores last year. Ahumada stayed in the end, of course, and now the new boss is giving him his reward for having been one of the side’s few truly consistent performers over the last twelve months.
‘I knew I could do this,’ Ahumada told journalists as the announcement was made. ‘One always wishes to give the best to the group, and receive the same from one’s teammates. I’ve been with the club for many years, and I know what this team needs.’ He might not have made himself too popular with certain sections of the stands during the Clausura last year, but Ahumada will be a vocal leader if nothing else.