UNAM Pumas have announced that pending medical test, they are set to announce their four most recent acquisitions. Veteran Efrain Velarde is set to return to Pumas after not being in plans of Mazatlan FC anymore, while Brazilians Higor Meritao and Jose Rogerio arrived from Brazilian fourth division side Ferroviaria and Ecuadorean Washington Corozo arrives from Sporting Cristal. The signings have been meet with a lot of scorn from fans who are displeased with the quality of the signings, and feel that Pumas have shown to not be on the right path especially with the transfers of the Brazilian players.
After a great season in which they got to the 2020 Apertura final, Pumas was the biggest disappointment of the 2021 Clausura season. After selling Carlos Gonzalez, things didn’t look bright, but not to the point that Pumas would miss out on the repechaje where the top 12 teams would at least be qualified. And yet Pumas was a win away from qualifying but they ended up losing at home against their biggest rival, eliminating themselves and finishing 15th. Pumas fans weren’t happy, and a lot of criticism was thrown at the players and coaches. Pumas started to make moves almost immediately saying that they wouldn’t sign loanee Facundo Waller and were also parting ways with Juan Manuel Iturbe after his contract was up. This week they announced that center back Luis Quintana was leaving for Necaxa. It seemed that a lot of changes were going after the season, but the news turned sour for most fans after the rumors of acquisitions came in. The announcement by Pumas made a reality of what most fans feared.
The first signing was the return of Efrain Velarde. Velarde came through Pumas and was part of the teams that won all four Liga MX titles after 2004. He had a solid career before moving to Monterrey, and was good enough to make the Mexican National team where he played in the 2013 Gold Cup and 2015 Copa America. He’s also a left back, a position where Pumas struggled after Alejandro Mayorga’s loan to Pumas ended and he returned to Chivas. The problem is that Velarde is 35 years old, and he had a bad season in Mazatlan that ended up with him parting ways with the team. It frankly looks like Velarde is on his way out, and although Pumas hopes to have him turn things around. it doesn’t look likely. The biggest controversy though was the signings of Hugo Meritao and Jose Rogerio. While there had been some talk about the talents, the headlines are all about how both players are coming from club Ferroviaria, a team in the Brazilian fourth division. While there are talks that there was interest from some Brazilian first division clubs, the fact is that the fourth division is almost an amateur level even if it is Brazil. To make things worse, Meritao is 26 and Rogerio is 30 years old, so they aren’t even prospects. The news felt like a punch in the gut to Pumas fans, and it brought mocking from fans of other teams as it seems as a new low for Pumas to resort to signing fourth division players. If the signings pan out however, it will be the biggest coup of the season in Mexico.
The final player is Washington Corozo, an Ecuadoran player that had a good tenure with Ecuador youth National Teams, including making the 2015 U17 World Cup and the 2017 U20 World Cup. He also had some success in Independiente Del Valle before moving on to Sporting Cristal in Peru. Unfortunately after a good start and being part of the team that won a title, he seems to not have met expectations. He is however a young player at 22, and seems to have the brighter future out of all four players. Yet these are very divisive acquisitions that fans aren’t happy about. Even though they could pan out, the problem is that they are nowhere near the level of other Liga MX signings, which means that Pumas doesn’t seems as they are building a contender any time soon. It could be a steal but right now as bad as Pumas looked, fans feel the team is actually regressing.