Maxi Meza signs new deal to end speculation as Independiente enjoy positive transfer window


Independiente lifting the Copa Sudamericana last year saw two key figures leave the club and while Nicolás Tagliafico and Ezequiel Barco were never really replaced during the previous transfer window, El Rojo have made up for lost time with several positive moves over the past month.

Aside from some exciting new additions, the club have learned from the prior mistakes of allowing such important players to leave for less than their market value by securing longer contracts and increased release clauses for all of their current assets.

Undoubtedly the greatest of those, Maxi Meza, finally put pen to paper on a new deal on Saturday prior to the squad flying to Japan for the Suruga Bank Trophy.

The midfielder was part of Jorge Sampaoli’s Argentina squad in Russia and despite not demonstrating his quality, like most of the disappointing Albiceleste side, the concern for Independiente was that one of several European suitors would pay the relatively cheap release clause of $12 million.

Meza’s agent certainly seemed in no rush to negotiate a new deal with Independiente but with no sign of a concrete offer from the likes of Real Sociedad or Valencia, the 26-year-old was eager to resolve his future before travelling to face Cerezo Osaka.

A deal has now been agreed and Meza signed an improved contract that runs until 2021 and importantly contains an increased release clause of $25 million.

And Meza isn’t the only one. Martín Benítez inked a new deal with a release clause of $20 million after a reported bid from Liga MX club Santos Laguna, youngsters Fabricio Bustos and Alan Franco extended their current deals and manager Ariel Holan signed on until 2021.

After years of failure and upheaval, Holan has implemented a strategy and an identity and after lifting the Copa Sudamericana, the club have been put their trust in the 57-year-old.

Aside from keeping hold of those talents, Independiente have recruited well and Ezequiel Cerutti’s arrival on Friday appears to have concluded El Rojo’s business in this window.

The 26-year-old left San Lorenzo for Saudi club Al-Hilal six months ago but signs for Independiente on an initial year-long loan with the option to join permanently for $4.5 million.

The pacy, technically gifted forward further boosts Ariel Holan’s attack and is something like the Ezequiel Barco replacement that Jonathan Menéndez, Braian Romero or Gonzalo Verón were never likely to be in the last window.

Pablo Hernández and Francisco Silva arrive to form a new-look midfield after the sale of Diego Rodríguez and Guillermo Burdisso brings added experience and depth to the defence.

Exciting Uruguayan under-20 international midfielder Carlos Benavídez arrived from Defensor Sporting and goalkeeper Milton Álvarez came in after injury to back-up Gonzalo Rehak.

A terrific Copa Libertadores last 16 tie against Brazilian giants Santos lies ahead and for Ariel Holan and the club lifting an eighth title is the dream. El Rojo are still outsiders to achieve that but few supporters can grumble about the club’s preparations.

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