The 2017-2018 Superliga ended somewhat rocky for Boca Juniors. They were able to cruise through the first half of the season and build a nice cushion of points for themselves. As the season progressed, two of Boca’s most important players suffered season-ending injuries. Dario Benedetto and Fernando Gago would miss the rest of the season and that’s where the trouble began.
Both Gago, and Benedetto are pivotal pieces in Boca’s success. Gago in charge of the playmaking, and Benedetto in charge of scoring. Well-built championship sides more often than not have a quality bench with players able to replace the starters. Although Ramon Abila did a great job of replacing Benedetto, unfortunately, Boca were not able to supplement Gago and various other spots in the starting XI. The 2018 transfer window was one to definitely take advantage of ahead of potential continental success.
With the upcoming World Cup, many Boca players were potential targets for European powerhouses such as FC Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur. Such players rumoured to potentially depart the club were Wilmar Barrios, Nahitan Nandez, and Boca’s most crucial attacking player, Cristian Pavon.
The first one to arrive was Sebastian Villa. The Colombian winger impressed Boca when he lead his hometown club Deportes Tolima to an Apertura title defeating Colombian powerhouse Atletico Nacional. Despite having an offer from Atletico Nacional, he decided to join Boca. Boca were preparing well for Pavon’s potential departure knowing his 50-million-euro release clause was nothing to Europe’s biggest clubs. Eventually, Boca were able to hold onto Pavon and Villa has proved to be a great backup thus far.
When in form centre back, Lisandro Magallan agreed to terms with Holland powerhouse Ajax, Boca were in dire need of another centre back. Paolo Goltz ended the 2017/2018 season in poor form, backup option Santiago Vergini never seemed to convince fans as he was out of favour with Boca supporters after many poor showings. Carlos Izquierdoz, a Santos Laguna legend was the main target and ultimately arrived after weeks of negotiations. The highest-rated centre back in the Mexican first division was the type of arrival the fans were waiting for. Boca was in need of an experienced player, who would jump into the starting XI without any complications. Ultimately, the deal between Ajax and Magallan fell through and he ended up staying which was fantastic news for the coaching staff. Although Boca did miss a big opportunity to sell the player for 10 million euros.
The third player to arrive was Mauro Zarate. A transfer which sent shockwaves all throughout Argentina. The Velez Sarsfield Icon decided to depart his boyhood club and target a potential Copa Libertadores title with Boca. Carlos Tevez was not in his best form and Boca decided to target Zarate because, well, competition is always great for any squad.
Despite being the starting GK and achieving back to back league titles, Agustin Rossi was showing signs of being a young GK who is not able to save you when needed most. Esteban Andrada, the highly rated GK from club Lanus was the target and after agreeing on a 5-million-dollar transfer fee plus backup GK Guillermo Sara, Andrada made the switch to the Buenos Aires giants. After 7 matches defending the toughest goal in Argentina, Andrada has proved to be a great signing saving Boca on numerous occasions.
The last player to arrive at Boca Juniors was Lucas Olaza. The Uruguayan left back was sought after by many clubs including rivals River Plate. Boca agreed on a one-year loan with an option to make the deal permanent in one year’s time. His arrival was urgent due to starting left-back Frank Fabra tearing his ACL and thus missing the 2018 Fifa World Cup with Colombia. Boca was left with a single player in the respective position, Emmanuel Mas who hasn’t convinced since arriving from Turkish side, Trabzonspor in January.
In order to have a successful transfer market, you must analyze the positions you need reinforcements in. Most supporters would agree that Boca needed a GK, a LB, a CB, a back for Wilmar Barrios (CDM), and a backup for Pavon (winger). Boca were able to bring in 4 out of the 5 targeted positions making it a successful transfer window. Boca supporters will have to hope Barrios does not pick up a knock or a cold because there isn’t a natural backup for him.
In terms of those departing the club, Walter Bou, and Santiago Vergini fell down the pecking order and thus found new clubs. The Colombian midfielder Sebastian Perez also fell down the pecking order and was loaned to Mexican side Pachuca. He was seen by most fans as a player who has a very similar style of play as Fernando Gago, perhaps in a year’s time he is able to make a comeback. Tomas Pochettino was not receiving any playing time and was loaned out to Talleres to develop. Another player who was loaned to Talleres was promising CAM Gonzalo Maroni, a player who fans would have hoped would get more playing time hasn’t due to the abundance of players Boca has in midfield.
Oscar Benitez and Guido Vadala are two more names that appeared very little for Boca in the 2017-2018 season. Oscar Benitez’ loan expired and was not renewed, meanwhile Guido Vadala was loaned out to Universidad de Concepcion of Chile.
Despite not being able to contract a backup for Barrios, along with not losing much with those players who departed the club, Boca had a fantastic transfer window and fans will hope it brings bigger rewards than last year.