A known formula in Mendizorroza | Alaves

Albiazul sports director, Sergio Fernández, in his office in Mendizorroza. / igor martín

More than half of the incorporations of Alavés under the direction of Sergio Fernández have come in the form of a loan

Iñigo Miñón

“It will be practically impossible for us to assume transfers.” Sergio Fernández’s message as soon as the end of last season left no room for doubt: Alavés is again aiming for a zero-cost reinforcements market. Players who finish contracts, transfers … It is what it is, the sports director came to say. But the situation is not new.
Austerity has marked the roadmap since the landing of the Baskonia Group in Mendizorroza. By necessity first, to file the inherited bankruptcy debt; as a rule later, in a global context focused on the search for a surplus that allows, among other things, to undertake the reform of Mendizorroza, budgeted at 55 million, 33 of which will flow from the albiazul entity.

It is the slogan with which Fernández has worked since his arrival, in the summer of 2016,
to track the market in search of profiles that fit in with that philosophy: assignments, future bets and worked operations at zero cost. With special mention for loans, which account for more than half of the entry operations that the Leonese has undertaken: 39 out of 75, although it is difficult to find the exact number of incorporations among those blurred between Istra and Sochaux –excluded– and the duality of some loaned players who later became proprietary players, such as Ely, Sobrino, Pina or Guidetti.

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In this way, Alavés found the extraordinary productivity of players such as Marcos Llorente, Theo Hernández, Camarasa, Munir, Pedraza, Jony, Calleri … With their corresponding ‘B-side’, the Romero, Pantic, Espinoza, Héctor Hernández, Álvaro Medrán , Bojan, Álex Blanco, Ismael ... With that label came six of the seven reinforcements from last season –Lejeune, Battaglia, Pellistri, Córdoba, Deyverson and Tavares–, the first without investments in transfers, although it should be remembered that transfers are not always free. The so-called loan fee is becoming more and more common.

The seventh was Jota Peleteiro, who came free after rescinding with Aston Villa. Just as Ibai Gómez, Edgar Méndez or Wakaso did at the time. Or Tomás Pina: after his successful transfer in the 2017-18 academic year, there was a purchase option of 3 million euros that was not even contemplated by a footballer who was 31 years old at the time, but the sports management, with the support of the player, knew how to tighten the rope to achieve a zero cost exit. Brujas kept a percentage of a hypothetical future sale and received an economic amount based on the final classification of the Albiazul team. A case similar to the one that Battaglia stars with Sporting Lisbon today. Squeezing in negotiations, with all that this implies, is the hallmark of the Baskonia-Alavés group.

Disparate investments

They are the ins and outs of a plan that tries to avoid the payment of transfers. There have been exceptions, of course, with Guidetti (4) on the cusp of gastor. The club made more or less important disbursements for Dani Torres, Ely, Sobrino, Katai, Maripán, Burgui, Sivera … Bets on the future in sports and economics with disparate outcomes. With the Chilean defender as the best example of financial productivity, signed for 2 million and transferred to Monaco for 15 – according to official figures presented at the shareholders meeting -, which represents a record in the babazorro club’s historical sales chapter. Much worse were the investments by the Colombian, Extremadura or Swede, which yielded at an acceptable level in its half year of assignment and faded when it became Albiazul property.

Two summers ago, Alavés got out of their usual lane by paying just over 2 million euros for two veterans like Lucas Pérez (West Ham) and Joselu (Newcastle).). Pere Pons (about 2 to Girona) and Luis Rioja (a little more than 1 to Almería) also arrived after payment. They were the last transfers. Then Edgar Méndez would arrive free in winter – the other four reinforcements in the January window were transfers (Camarasa, Ismael, Roberto Jiménez and Fejsa) – and the seven incorporations last year were at zero cost.

Now Carlos Isaac – recruited last season from Atlético B and loaned to Albacete -, Toni Moya (Atlético B) and Taichi Hara (Istra) have arrived in the same way. The Japanese was already under the blue albiah cloak when he arrived in February in the Croatian team. Austerity is now part of the pretext of the crisis derived from the pandemic, but it is a familiar formula in Mendizorroza.