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SPORTS | 14-06-2024 12:30

Argentina's clubs ready their wallets as Liga Profesional de Fútbol pauses

Last call for league football before Copa América kicks off – let transfer silly season begin!

It is that time again. The Liga Profesional de Fútbol is preparing to shut down for its winter break, ceding the stage to Argentina's national team as they strive to defend the Copa América so memorably clinched in the Maracanã back in 2021. This Saturday, therefore, will be the last time we see the likes of Boca, River and the rest of Argentina's top club until the final week of July, an unwelcome interruption for those who have hit the ground running in the first five rounds of the Liga but a very timely chance for others to catch their breath.

Sensing the imminent lack of football on our screens, perhaps, the emphasis in the nation's gargantuan and ever headline-hungry football media has already started to shift. Transfer season has officially started and the rumours are coming thick and fast even before the last games have finished.

River might have been rather underwhelming on the pitch for much of this first half of 2024 but they are looking to make a big transfer splash early on. Burly San Lorenzo forward Adam Bareiro is the chosen target at the Monumental, with a deal expected to be completed in the coming days. Moves of this nature between Grandes are very rare indeed, particularly in the last decade or so, and San Lorenzo fans are not particularly pleased to see their best goalscorer head to a rival. But coach Leandro Romagnoli had an honest, not to mention delightfully petty take on the matter, telling press it would bother him more if the Paraguayan was going to Boca.

Speaking of Boca, an old favourite is on his way back to the Bombonera. Gary 'Pitbull' Medel represented the Xeneize between 2009 and 2011 and won no few fans with his talent in midfield and, shall we say, 'uncompromising' attitude on the field of play. Now, at 36 but still a fierce competitor, the Chile international is gearing up for a second spell with Boca and could debut as soon as Wednesday, when the club faces Almirante Brown in the Copa Argentina. As always, plenty more names will pop up in connection with the giants these coming days and weeks: Tomás Belmonte, Fausto Vera and Alan Velasco have already seen themselves linked in quick succession with a winter transfer.

Activity around the league is likely to be rather more muted than for the Superclásico rivals, as funds in this downtrodden economy remain a scarce resource for even the biggest clubs. Independiente for one cannot bring in any new faces even if they wanted to, as yet another embargo has fallen on the embattled Avellaneda side over unpaid debts (estimated at around US$5.5 million). The Rojo did finally land a new coach, in the shape of Julio Vaccari, though the ex-Defensa y Justicia boss will take over after this weekend's games.

San Lorenzo have also been quiet so far outside of the Adam Bareiro episode, while the only news at Racing so far has been the signing of 20-year-old Nueva Chicago prospect Matías Bergara. Both teams will likely be in the hunt for a new striker this winter, though: the former to fill the hole left by the Paraguayan, and Racing in the event that Roger Martínez returns to Colombia in the coming weeks. Banfield's Milton Gimenez is reportedly in the sights of both, another of those classic Argentine rags-to-riches stories who spent the first seven years of his career bouncing between the second and fourth tiers of the pyramid with Atlanta, Midland and Comunicaciones before finally getting the chance to shine with Central Córdoba back in 2021.

A slow start, then, for fans of wild transfer rumours; but the mill is only now beginning to gather momentum. With so much space to fill plenty more players will be hypothetically bounced from team to team, and who knows, with a bit of luck some of those moves might actually happen.

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Dan Edwards

Dan Edwards

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