The start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is just nine days away and teams from the Liga MX are already conducting several transfers before the start of the competition.
The Tijuana Xolos are one of those teams that have already added new players as they conducted a swap deal with Pumas UNAM this past Monday, June 4. The deal sent Ignacio Malcorra and Juan Manuel Iturbe to Mexico City and brought Luis Fuentes and Erick Torres to the border city. Upon further review, Pumas UNAM definitely received the better end of the deal, although it is unclear if money was involved.
Ignacio Malcorra had become a fan-favorite and was one of the longest-tenured players on Club Tijuana. The Argentine midfielder had been with the Aztec Canines for four tournaments now, dating back to the Apertura 2016. Malcorra managed to get himself seven goals in 66 league appearances with the Xolos and really excelled as a playmaker. At one point, Malcorra could have been considered the most vital player on Club Tijuana before his fallout with the team this past season.
Towards the end of the Clausura 2018, the 30-year-old came exclusively off the bench and it became very clear that his time with the border city team was coming to an end. Juan Manuel Iturbe is a very distinct player as he has plenty of potential, but he is yet to display it in the Liga MX. The Paraguayan winger played just 14 games with the Xolos and was very disappointing when he did step on the pitch. An injury limited to just three games last season, but he was still unimpressive when he did get the chance to play.
Iturbe is still just 25 years old and was considered a top prospect in the world of football at one point in his career. To Pumas UNAM, he is worth the risk even if he has not fully recovered from his injury that ended his tenure with Club Tijuana.
The return that Diego Cocca’s team received in this deal is not the most exciting with Mexican fullback Luis Fuentes and Mexican striker Erick Torres. Fuentes has been playing in the Liga MX since 2007 and has stayed mainly with Pumas UNAM amassing over 200 appearances with the Mexico City side. The experienced fullback also had a short loan spell with Monterrey, where he served as more of a role player.
The addition of Fuentes does mean that Argentine left-back Damian Perez is on his way out of the border city team. The other player in the deal, Erick Torres has been on a steady decline for a while now since being deemed as the next big thing. “Cubo” started his career with Chivas de Guadalajara back in 2010 and was considered a top prospect given his success with the Mexico national team at the youth levels.
— @Xolos_En (@xolos_en) June 4, 2018
Torres’ most successful stint in his career came in the MLS from 2013-2017 with Chivas USA and the Houston Dynamo, but he is yet to find that success in the Liga MX with disappointing spells at Chivas, Cruz Azul and Pumas UNAM. The Mexican forward played just four league games with Pumas UNAM in the Clausura 2018 and his capabilities are not exciting. The 25-year-old is more of a traditional striker without much pace or skill, similar to Jose Alberto Garcia on the Xolos.
However, there has always been this looming potential surrounding Torres and a change of scenery could just be what he needs. The Guadalajara native will most likely not be a key player, but he could serve as a decent role player for Diego Cocca.