Streamlining at Independiente, and potential big bucks for La Brujita

Issues of playing staff have dominated on Tuesday in spite of the lack of matches. At Independiente, Américo ‘Tolo Gallego has announced that ten current first-teamers will no longer be first-teamers from now on in reaction to the side’s terrible form and woeful 2-0 defeat to River Plate at the weekend. A different sort of problem for Estudiantes though: Seba Verón (along with Barcelona’s Rafa Márquez and Liverpool’s Fernando Torres) has been offered mega-money by Dubai club Al-Ahli, for a single match. The World Cup qualifiers and the Copa Libertadores might get in the way somewhat though…

Gallego’s plan is to work with a drastically reduced first-team squad from now until the end of the Torneo Clausura, in order to prepare for the future and get a better idea of where the players who currently feature in those plans need spaces filling in round them. As of Wednesday morning, then, ten players will be training apart from the first team, in the afternoons, and won’t apparently be taken into account for matches.

The ten are: Ricardo Moreira; Lucas Mareque; Damián Ledesma; Federico Higuaín; Nicolás Mazzola; José Moreno; Héctor Echagüe; Damián Luna; Leandro Depetris, and Emanuel Centurión. A more incendiary list had been expected by some, but with two exceptions – Higuaín (elder brother of Gonzalo) and Mareque – the others had already been all but dropped from the squad, although they’ve trained with the first team until today. The reaction of the players named will determine what happens next; they’ll have to decide whether to end their contracts now or stay and train with the club until their time is up.

Verón has contractual matters which have suddenly become pressing as well. He’s been approached by the Chairman of Al-Ahli of Dubai, who also happens to be the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al-Makhtoum, to play a friendly match to celebrate the club’s recent title win. Also invited to take part (among others) are Márquez and Torres, whilst Ricky Martin has been invited to perform, fans will be delighted to hear.

The financial offer to Verón is enormous – €400,000 for a single match. The problem lies with the date of the match. Al-Makhtoum wants to play the match in mid June, but with Verón having been called up by Diego Maradona for Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Ecuador (to be played on the 6th and 10th of that month), and the possibility that Estudiantes will have pressing concerns in the Copa Libertadores, things might not be that simple. Given that La Brujita doesn’t need the money, and indeed took a massive pay cut to rejoin Estudiantes in the first place back in 2006, my money’s on the deal not going ahead. But never say never…

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