Caruso Lombardi almost leaves Tigre amidst controversy

Ricardo Caruso Lombardi doesn't look happy

Ricardo Caruso Lombardi came close to stepping down as Tigre manager on Thursday afternoon amid accusations from the club’s Colombian full back Juan Angulo Villegas. If you’ve not heard of Villegas before, don’t feel bad: he arrived in Tigre during the winter break and has yet to make his debut for the first team. According to him, that’s because Caruso Lombardi asked for money from his players in return for a place in the team.

Villegas’ accusations came earlier on Thursday, and he clarified them later in the day to Olé after claiming he ‘hadn’t expected that there was going to be such a big interest in the subject.’ Caruso Lombardi, according to Villegas, ‘asked for money from my agent in order to play me. I wanted to win my place in the team, but he never put me on the pitch. He brought me here, he liked what he saw of me [at América de Cali in his homeland].’ Responding to Caruso Lombardi’s claims that Villegas’ agent, Juan Manuel Rodríguez, was ‘a gangster, who robbed money from the player’, Villegas also clarified; ‘he’s not my agent… just another Colombian, like me, who hangs out with me since I came here.’ Marcelo Ferreyra, according to Villegas, is the man who represents him.

Villegas also denied Caruso Lombardi’s claims that he’s been injured for an extended period of time (‘it was only for a short while’), and stressed that he was happy with how the club and its directors had treated him, saying, ‘the club have never broken any promises to me… This doesn’t have anything to do with the directors, I want to make that clear. I’m not slandering anyone.’

Early on Thursday evening, Olé and (the sports website run by La Nación) were reporting that Caruso Lombardi had resigned as manager, but as of Friday morning he’s still in charge. The talk was that the board of directors were either going to sack him or ask for his resignation, and that he was prepared to go because (in his own words) ‘I don’t want to compromise the club,’ but after talks yesterday he’s keeping his job. What will happen to Villegas now is uncertain. Players have circulated rumours before about managers asking for money, but then denied saying such things once a microphone has been switched on. The 22-year-old Colombian is the first in Argentina to go on record with such a claim, whether or not it’s true. This one could run and run…

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