The San Jose Earthquakes announced the loan acquisition of Argentine forward Cristian Espinoza from Villarreal on Wednesday morning.
On the surface, this looks like a fairly straightforward move. Talented young player that needs minutes moves to a team with playing time available. However, the underlying tone set forth by general manager Jesse Fioranelli’s quote in the announcement signals an opportunity for the Quakes moving forward.
“Cristian’s signing is the result of a collective effort over an extended period of time as both the player and Villarreal strongly believe that he will benefit under Matias’ guidance,” said Fioranelli.
Villarreal, who finished in fifth place in La Liga last year behind Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, believe that new Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda is an excellent mentor for one of their young players. Villarreal purchased Espinoza in 2016 for a reported $8 million.
Almeyda’s glowing reputation for leading his teams to trophies and grooming young players is well founded. He accomplished both at River Plate. He accomplished both at Banfield. He accomplished both at Chivas. Now he’s in San Jose and the objective is no different.
If Espinoza is successful with the Quakes in 2019 and demonstrates a good run of form in his return to Spain, San Jose may establish itself as a premier short or long-term loan option for top clubs around the world that are looking to give up-and-coming players a great learning environment. This combined with Fioranelli’s displayed commitment to signing younger players like Luis Felipe, Gilbert Fuentes and Eric Calvillo, who will all be mentored by Almeyda, should serve the Quakes well for years to come.
In addition to Espinoza and the players listed above, the Quakes have many other promising young players, including Jacob Akanyirige (17), JT Marcinkowski (21), Jackson Yueill (21), Tommy Thompson (23), Nick Lima (24), and more.
Keep an eye out for more offseason moves by following the Earthquakes on social media at @sjearthquakes.