New decade, same transfer roundabout

Gallardo, Ahumada and Almeyda return to training without any new team-mates

First of all, happy new year, HEGS readers! On Sunday the first of Argentina’s clubs returned to their training facilities to prepare for the pre-season of the Torneos de Verano and (for some) Copa Libertadores qualification. The new year brings familiar issues though: Banfield are starting to accept that they’re likely to lose Santiago Silva, whilst River Plate boss Leonardo Astrada is putting faith in the club’s new directors to bring in much-needed reinforcements. Racing, meanwhile, have some good to look forward to: Claudio Bieler’s signing from Liga de Quito is getting closer and closer.

River’s situation is complicated by two significant names missing from the squad list. Wherever he does end up, Cristian Fabbiani won’t be featuring for River, after a pathetic 2009, whilst Diego Buonanotte continues to recover in hospital – and is likely to need no little psychiatric help when he’s out – from his Boxing Day car crash, and certainly won’t play any part in the Clausura. In the face of this, Astrada doesn’t have any new faces yet, but names are being talked about.

‘I know the directors are working hard, because they know we need to bring in [at least] four new players to strengthen the squad,’ Astrada told the press after training in the Monumental. The most likely of those to arrive is Roberto Ayala, the former captain of the selección, who’s fallen out with management at Real Zaragoza and has made no secret of his desire to return home. Astrada claims he won’t be looking to directly replace Buonanotte; ‘The most important thing is the human element. I was with Diego [on Saturday] and he’s recovering well, we’ve got to support him in this moment, because it’s very hard for him.’ Buonanotte will have surgery on Wednesday for his fractured humerus.

At Banfield, things are more fraught. The newly-crowned champions left Buenos Aires on Sunday for their training camp in Mar Del Plata, and Santiago Silva wasn’t on the coach. ‘I suppose that he doesn’t want to play for Banfield any longer,’ said club president Carlos Portell. ‘He knew that the coach was leaving for Mar Del Plata today so that the squad and technical team could start pre-season.’

According to Portell, Silva told Silva after the club had claimed the title at La Bombonera that the following day they’d talk about him staying on at the club, but ‘I didn’t receive that call, I couldn’t get in touch with him – we’ve made around 30 calls and left at least ten messages on his answerphone, but we’ve not had a reply.’ It seems likely that Silva will attend pre-season with Vélez Sársfield, who own 50% of his registration – but whether that happens, and what he subsequently goes on to decide, we shall have to wait and see.

At Racing, Claudio Vivas is starting the new year as he means to go on, admonishing one unnamed player for arriving late to training; ‘The holidays are over, and we’ve got no margin for error.’ Only one player was absent altogether, though – Hernán Barcos has decided to leave the club, and was sorting out the details of doing so with the directors. Racing plan on bringing in Liga de Quito striker Claudio Bieler, having beaten off competition from River and Lanús to sign him, and although it’s not all sorted yet, it ought to be later this week. He told Olé on Sunday that, ‘I can already hear the ovation of the fans.’ What a modest man.

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