Argentina · South America · Transfer Market

The end … or a new beginning?

River necesita vender para equilibrar sus finanzas y también para pensar en refuerzos. Falcao y Buonanotte, principales joyas, están en vidriera. Esperan ya propuestas por Ahumada y Ferrari. Y siguen las firmas…

And just like that, the dismantling at River Plate begins.

After a truly awful campaign (last place in the Apertura 08, out of the title race with a couple of weeks to go in the Clausura 09), the Argentine giant is looking to sell off its assets to balance the books. The outgoing club administration is try to at least leave without a financial deficit, but it’s the deficit in football that concerns most fans, and selling off major players wouldn’t seem to be a step in the right direction to right that ship.

Or would it?

Let’s analyze the players mentioned as possible departures:

Radamel Falcao García, forward: The Colombian is definitely one of the team’s stars and has all the requisite skills of a top-shelf attacker. He is also a starter for Colombia’s national squad and on the verge of launching a successful international career. Having said that, he is a very brittle player and his multiple injuries over the last few years have meant that River have not seen him take the field nearly as much as they’d like. He’s had a healthy season this time around, and it may be the right time to sell him and make a strong profit. Premier League clubs such as Arsenal have been watching, along with clubs in La Liga. Even in a depressed economy, he should be good for a strong payday. And River still holds 50% of his rights, so that transfer should go a long way to paying the club’s bills and giving them some money to spend on new players.

Diego Buonanotte, midfielder: El Enano (the dwarf) is currently showcasing his talents with the Argentine youth team in Toulon, Mexico. And quite a showcase it is, a goal against the Netherlands has confirmed his standing as the next big small thing in Argentina. He is still only 21, though that seems more than old enough to emigrate as a footballer these days. He is very slight, and could suffer against stronger and faster opposition in Europe. His likely destination appears to be Portugal, or possibly Spain. That would be better than the more physical England or Italy. River holds most of his rights, so that would be another nice payday for the club. Still, River has lost so many talents like him in the last few years (Aimar, D’Alessandro, Saviola, Cavenaghi, Lucho Gonzalez). You wish just one of those might stay a while.

Oscar Ahumada, midfielder: Captain of the current squad and a key member of midfield. Ahumada, more than anyone else is responsible for holding the shape of the team on the pitch and holding the opposition attack. Though he has a good reputation, he’s nowhere near the level of Cristian Ledesma or Javier Mascherano, whose departure really hurt the club. The problem is, there’s no one really to replace him. Nicolás Domingo has never developed into a decent option at the position. If River sells Ahumada, they must find a replacement in the transfer market, and it’ll be hard to find someone on or near that level.

Paulo Ferrari, right fullback: River have already sold his rights, so there’s little money to be made here. If he stays, River would benefit from his solid goal line-to-goal line style and excellent attacking contribution from the fullback spot. But the likelihood is he’ll end up elsewhere, either in Mexico or Europe, next season.

Juan Marcelo Ojeda, goalkeeper: the former Rosario Central goalie has lost his spot at starter and now sits behind youth-team product Daniel Vega and the repatriated Mariano Barbosa (who has also failed to consolidate himself as No. 1). River would be well served to sell Ojeda just to recoup his salary, as coach Nestor Gorosito doesn’t seem to have Ojeda in his plans at all. All they need is an actual offer, but there don’t seem to be any on the table at this point.

Mauro Rosales, forward: the club would love to sell him on. High salary, little production and even less playing time. Clearly Gorosito doesn’t want him, since he’s a forward who doesn’t score goals. Hopefully the club can get an offer from someone, anyone, for him.

Matias Abelairas, midfielder: An offer appears imminent for “el Pitu”. River only have 50% of his rights, and there appears to be some strong interest. An incosistent performer, when he’s good, he’s very good, but sometimes he disappears completely from a game.

Gustavo Cabral, defender: Same as Abelairas. For a central defender, he can be a good scorer on set plays. His ability to shut down the opposition is still in doubt however. Needs development, and he may find it elsewhere.

There are undoubtedly some players that River could do without. The biggest concern for fans however, is that a mass exodus could lead to a long rebuilding job. Can the fans wait at least another year without any trophies? And more importantly, is Pipo Gorosito the man for the job to manage that process? We shall see.


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