Before the season started, I harbored some hope that Uruguay international Diego Lugano would win a spot in the middle of Paris Saint-Germain’s defense. It’s not that I love the guy. The reason is more egotistic. As somebody who lives under the misconception I know something about professional soccer, I like to see decisions and events that confirm my predictions. And I thought (and still think) Diego Lugano’s a very good defender.
However, with former Chelsea defender Alex augmented by the purchase of Thiago Silva, it was pretty clear PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti wasn’t going to start Lugano. Add in the presence of 22-year-old Mamadou Sahko and Lugano’s yet to appear in Ligue 1 this season.
But the 32-year-old’s playing time looks set to increase with his loan move to Málaga, a switch that was announced this morning. Manuel Pellegrini’s team, currently setting fifth in La Liga, already have Martin Demichelis and Weligton in central defense, but with Champions League commitments resuming mid-February, the Andalusians could use some depth. Matched up against Porto in Champions League’s Round of 16, Málaga stand a good chance of seeing their schedule congested into spring.
Bad news for Gooch
The move isn’t exactly great news for U.S. international Oguchi Onyewu, already somewhat buried on Málaga’s depth chart. The 30-year-old, who is hoping to work his way back into Jurgen Klinsmann’s selection, has only made three appearances between league and Europe, sitting behind Jesús Gámez in Pellegrini’s pecking order. With Lugano in tow, it’s unclear where Onyewu will get playing time between now and June.
Perhaps Lugano’s move will trigger a domino effect. If Onyewu wants to work his way back into the national team during this cycle, he needs to move in the next couple of weeks. He can’t let himself stagnate at Málaga.
It’s no exaggeration to say five months without playing — at his age, with his recent history in the national team — could end his international career. Or at least permanently derail it.