Tigres target historic Copa Libertadores bid with unexpected recruits
In a surge of unexpected summer transfer activity, Mexican club Tigres snapped up three well-regarded European-based acquisitions, as the Liga MX side signed Andre-Pierre Gignac, Ikechukwu Uche and Javier Aquino ahead of their hopeful bid to lift a historic Copa Libertadores crown this year.
Tigres recently became only the fourth ever Liga MX side to reach the semi-finals of South America’s equivalent of the Champions League in Europe, having rallied to an impressive 2-0 victory over Ecuadorian outfit Emelec to claim a 2-1 aggregate win in the quarter-final stage.
With Mexico’s national team having been dumped out of the Copa America, and the more nationally esteemed Gold Cup taking place next month, the 113 populated South American nation will focus its attention towards Tigres’ attempts at making club history, with a World Cup possibly to look forward to in the coming years as well (66/1 with Coral to win).
In what is one of the holy grails of Mexican club football, Tigres will attempt to become the first team bearing from this nation to lift the prestigious trophy, with these potential history-makers the first side since Chivas in 2010 to reach this stage of the competition.
Despite world footballing stars such as Ronaldinho, Pep Guardiola, Bebeto and Emilio Butragueno having landed in Mexico to finish their illustrious careers, the capturing of France international frontman Gignac provides the country’s top division with possibly its most important arrival.
The 29-year-old striker was the second highest scorer in Ligue 1 last season for Marseille (16/1 for 2015/16 Ligue 1 title), behind only Alexandre Lacazette but ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the standings, and the clinical Frenchman arrives at Tigres in the prime of his career, signalling a new chapter in his career.
“I want to thank Marseille for allowing me to realise my childhood dream,” stated Gignac, who grew up in nearby Martigues before turning professional with Lorient, then eventually signing for Marseille in 2010.
“It gave me such a feeling of accomplishment. This club brings me so much pride, joy and emotion.
“For many of the same reasons, I have decided to choose a new destination, Tigres, which will allow me to pursue my passion in a big football country, Mexico, with an ambitious club who can help me to new successes in my career.”
Gignac has earned 19 international caps and struck 77 times in 186 appearances for Marseille, with his arrival in Mexico sending shockwaves around this summer’s transfer window, but Tigres didn’t stop there, also snapping up Villarreal’s attacking duo Aquino and Uche.
Aquino’s departure from the Yellow Submarine will now see him enter his second stint for a Mexican club, having debuted for Cruz Azul five years ago before a move to La Liga, meaning he will bring valuable experience to his new side.
In the form of Nigerian attacker Uche, Tigres will be obtaining a veteran of La Liga, with the 31-year-old having notched up 103 goals over 13 years in Spain’s top-flight, as he becomes the first ever African to join this Monterrey-based club, who have won the league and cup three times.
Ahead of potentially historic run-in, Tigres have acquired players with of a high calibre, who also possess invaluable experience of European football, as the hopeful Mexican club prepare to face Brazil’s Internacional or Colombia’s Santa Fe in a crucial Copa Libertadores semi-final meeting which could be a stepping stone towards footballing history.