Independiente president Hugo Moyano is certainly not lacking confidence after unveiling the club’s three big signings on Friday but after years of disappointment and several big names heading out the door, supporters are likely to be a little more cautious in their approach.
After weeks of negotiating, Independiente presented Emmanuel Gigliotti, Walter Erviti and Nery Dominguez to the press along with recently appointed manager Ariel Holan in what is the start of another new cycle in Avellaneda.
Moyano said: “We welcome these new additions and we have a lot of faith in them. I do not want to exaggerate, but this team we present will be a sensation.”
Certainly the three look useful additions and bolster areas that had been lacking last year under Gabi Milito.
— C. A. Independiente (@Independiente) February 24, 2017
Gigliotti was eventually signed from Chinese club Chongqing Lifan and Independiente will be hoping that the former Boca Juniors centre-forward will provide the clinical finishing that has been missing so badly.
El Rojo were woeful in front of goal last year, the signing of Gigliotti in tandem with Germán Denis being released (and subsequently picked up by Lanús) and Diego Vera being sold to Colón for $900,000 is an indication of this.
At 29, Gigliotti should be still near his best and with a record of close to a goal every two games in Argentina, El Puma should in theory pose more of a threat than Milito’s first choice, Vera.
The capture of Walter Erviti was even more drawn out given the complications over whether Banfield were owed any money. The 36-year-old hadn’t been paid in months by his former club and so was able to rescind his contract and sign as a free agent and after weeks of back and forth, the AFA agreed.
At his advanced age, Erviti isn’t one for the future but has been in sensational form this season for Banfield and a major factor in El Taladro’s lofty league position.
With Cebolla Rodriguez, spending more time on the treatment table than the pitch, Independiente lacked a player to link midfield to attack with the vision to create chances and use the pace of the likes of Emiliano Rigoni and Martin Benitez. Cebolla was swiftly shipped out, returned to Peñarol and Erviti will be the number ten, which Holan will build around.
One of the other issues previously was Independiente’s collection of defensive midfielders that forced a somewhat negative double-five and which Holan seems at pain to move on from. Nery Domínguez arriving from Liga MX club Querétaro should add some of the dynamism that Holan strives for moving the ball forward quicker and avoiding the stodgy spells of possession that El Rojo endured previously.
However, the squad is light and with captain Victor Cuesta also leaving the club for Internacional, Holan is relying on a number of the academy products to step up.
Nicolás Tagliafico was the obvious choice to take the captain’s armband and will be the side’s leader but when 22-year-old Nicolás Figal is the first choice centre back, there is a glaring lack of experience. Youngsters Alan Franco and Fabricio Bustos will be expected to slot into the back four but rest assured will be targeted by opposition attacks.
Holan’s Defensa y Justicia side were an attractive and attacking side and the hope would be that with better players, the 56-year-old can produce results but he and the club will know that there will be little time to get things right.
“It was a deep restructuring,” Holan said in the press conference on Friday.
“We are going to consolidate and be a competitive team. I have a lot of confidence, not only in these three [Gigliotti, Erviti and Dominguez] but in all the players we have.”
It’s all very positive after such a lacklustre 2016 but supporters will be reserving judgement until a few weeks into the season.