Chivas made public their first off-season acquisition with the announcement that Angel Zaldivar was joining the team after the end of his loan to Puebla. Zaldivar was a key player for Chivas during the Matias Almeyda era, but he eventually fell out of favor and was loaned to Monterrey for a year. After Monterrey didn’t make valid their option on Zaldivar, he was loaned out to Puebla for the Clausura 2020 tournament. Zaldivar will be part of the first team and his return now increases the rumor that forward Jose Juan Macias might depart to Europe and Zaldivar would be taking over that forward spot.
A Guadalajara native, Zaldivar came through the Guadalajara youth system. Besides a season loaned out to Coras de Tepic, Zaldivar made it through to the first team and later as starting forward in Guadalajara. He became a key prospect, and his performance was good enough to get called up to the U23 Mexican National team in the 2015 Pan American Games. Zaldivar got a key goal against Panama in the semifinals as Mexico will finish in second place, winning the silver medal. Zaldivar also had some key games with Chivas, as he especially became key as the team’s penalty kick taker.
With a forward tandem of Zaldivar and Alan Pulido, Chivas won their last Liga MX title under coach Almeyda in the 2017 Clausura. He continued to win titles with Chivas like the 2018 Concacaf Champions League, but his level decreased with Chivas. After Almeyda left and Chivas had a terrible performance in the FIFA Club World Cup under coach Jose Saturnino Cardozo, Zaldivar was determined to not be needed and was loaned out to Monterrey. In Monterrey he never made it out of being a bench player who sometimes started Copa MX games. Zaldivar had a great spell in terms of silverware, winning another Concacaf Champions League title as well as the Liga MX title in the 2019 Apertura, but he never established himself outside of being a bench player. Thus it wasn’t surprising that he left Monterrey at the end of his loan and went to Puebla. In Puebla he fared better in playing time, but the season had to be suspended because of the COVID-19 Emergency, and he now returns to Chivas.
Zaldivar’s return is a second opportunity to a player that has dropped his level considerably. From a player that got National team call ups during the Juan Carlos Osorio and Ricardo Ferretti’s era to a player that seems to be destined to a bench player even with Chivas. With heavy rumors surrounding the possible departure to Europe of Jose Juan Macias Zaldivar might be plugging that hole, but his recent level doesn’t indicate many possibilities for him to do so. Still the fact that he not only wasn’t loaned out but that he becomes Chivas’ first big move, this might mean he will get a big opportunity to return to his old Chivas form.