After a Transición in which at least ten Lanús players could feasibly be in a team of the season, the difficulty was in actually deciding which would be cut. Nevertheless, the champions dominate this eleven and those who were selected could perhaps more than others claim that in their specific position, there were no better. In the spirit of things, there are players from a few other teams who on a personal level enjoyed good campaigns but this isn’t scientific and there are a great number of others not listed who could have made it. Feel free to comment but keep it clean….
During the Transición, Lanús finally saw the Fernando Monetti they had hoped for when they signed the 27-year-old from Gimnasia to replace the outgoing Agustín Marchesín. The La Plata native had excelled for his hometown club and expectations were high when he made the move to Lanús and after initially disappointing, 2016 has seen him repay that faith. Owners of the best defensive record in the top flight, Monetti kept an impressive eleven clean sheets from fifteen matches. His performance in the 1-0 win away to Tigre was the highlight and earned El Granate a further three points on their way to the title on a rare occasion when perhaps they didn’t deserve it.
Honourable mention – Rodrigo Rey (Godoy Cruz)
Quite what Racing were thinking when they allowed José Luis Gómez to go out on loan is anyone’s guess but with Lanús having an option to make the move permanent for a bargain $2 million, it is likely to prove to be a huge error. The 22-year-old has been outstanding and in addition to finding himself on Gerardo Martino’s preliminary Olympic list is now a Primera División champion. A decent enough defender, where the Cafú santiagueño really shines is going forward. His lung-busting overlapping runs on the right were a prominant feature of Lanús’ attack and when Argentina’s lack of modern full-backs has been highlighted, Gómez may prove to be a long-term solution to this problem.
Another must-have from Lanús’ back four is Paraguayan Gustavo Gómez. The powerful, central defender has proved to be an incredible piece of business for the club since they signed him from Libertad in 2014. Not the tallest in his position, Gómez is still excellent in the air and uncompromising in the challenge. The 23-year-old has consistently proved since moving to Argentina that he is capable of greater things and so a transfer to Europe looks certain.
Honourable mention – Diego Braghieri (Lanús)
Independiente didn’t enjoy the best of campaigns but their problem was at the other end of the pitch because defensively, El Rojo were excellent. The best defensive record in Zone One, the contribution of centre back Víctor Cuesta was central to this and so when Gerardo Martino was looking at Argentine-based defenders, it was little surprise that Cuesta was near the top of his list. The 27-year-old found himself on the plane to the United States with Martino’s squad after injury to Javier Pinola and despite firm interest from Europe, Independiente are desperate to keep hold of the defender.
Honourable mention – Jorge Figal (Olimpo)
Another excellent tournament from Nicolás Tagliafico in an Independiente shirt has not only seen him cement his position as a favourite among supporters in Avellaneda but has seen the 23-year-old deliver on much of his early promise while at Banfield. Strong in the air and in the tackle, there are few more committed players in the Primera. Full of running and eager to join the attack, Tagliafico is perhaps not as productive in the final third as he could be but is an excellent full back with a bright future.
Honourable mention – Rafael Delgado (Defensa y Justicia)
Perhaps the breakthrough star of the Transición was Estudiantes’ Santiago Ascacibar. Many would have questioned El Pincha’s decision to allow Gastón Gil Romero to leave before the season but the emergence of the 19-year-old defensive midfielder has more than justified that. Despite standing only five feet seven inches, Ascacibar has been the outstanding ball winner in the top flight and rightfully earned his place in Gerardo Martino’s preliminary Olympic list. El Pequeño Gigante led the way in tackles won, is already attracting European interest and has all the attributes to be a fantastic number five.
Honourable mention in central midfield – Pol Fernández (Godoy Cruz)
Fernando Belluschi’s best days maybe behind him but the 32-year-old proved to be a wonderful January signing for San Lorenzo. No player completed more key passes than Belluschi and in addition to his four assists, the former Porto player scored two important goals – one in the clásico against Huracán and the winner against Belgrano. An excellent passer of the ball, the well-travelled veteran was creatively vital to Los Cuervos.
Honourable mention – Román Martínez (Lanús)
Already named our Player of the Torneo, Miguel Almirón suddenly showed Lanús supporters why the club fought to bring the Paraguayan in from Cerro Porteño in August 2015. His direct, pacy running from central midfield provided El Granate with real vertical thrust and what would already have been a hugely successful season in Argentina was capped by his man of the match performance in the final against San Lorenzo.
Honourable mention – Fernando Zuqui (Godoy Cruz)
Something seems to happen when José Sand puts on a Lanús shirt and despite entering the twilight of his career, the 35-year-old was for the third time in his career the Primera’s leading scorer. Pepe scored an impressive 14 goals (more than half of Lanús’ total) and remarkably now has 73 in 100 appearances for El Granate. Considering how ordinary he has looked almost everywhere else in his long career, it is staggering. Lanús needed a penalty box goal scorer and Sand provided just that.
Honourable mention – Ramón Ábila (Huracán)
While Boca Juniors spent much of the tournament bemoaning the lack of a number nine, one of their former players was spearheading San Lorenzo’s title challenge. Nicolás Blandi proved to be Pablo Guede’s best option in attack and with Sebastián Blanco and Ezequiel Cerutti buzzing around, the 26-year-old demonstrated his finishing ability. Eight league goals and a vital run of five in four matches near the end of the season helped Los Cuervos steal top spot from Godoy Cruz in Zone One.
Honourable mention – Lautaro Acosta (Lanús)
The arrival of Uruguayan Santiago García gave a talented Godoy Cruz side a boost for the Transición and his goals almost took El Tomba to a first ever Primera title. Morro scored nine goals, including a spectucular free kick to secure victory in the clásico against San Martín, and undoubtedly his partnership with Jaime Ayoví was a huge factor in the club’s challenge. The 25-year-old was an enormous talent when he represented the Uruguay under-20s but after losing his way a little, the Transición was a return to form.