Leganes boss Javier Aguirre has lamented the losses of star strikers Youssef En-Nesyri and Martin Braithwaite earlier this year.
The club have been struggling at the foot of La Liga all season and lost both of their main attacking threats in successive months at the beginning of the calendar year.
En-Nesyri joined Sevilla in January when his €20m release clause at Lega was triggered, while Braithwaite left the following month to join Barcelona after his €18m release clause was met – the pair had netted 10 of the club’s 21 league goals this year.
Braithwaite’s deal proved controversial as it was an emergency transfer, allowed due to a long-term injury to Ousmane Dembele earlier that month, leaving Lega unable to sign a replacement.
Braithwaite had netted six goals and provided one assist for struggling Lega across 24 La Liga appearances this campaign before moving to the Camp Nou.
“Of course,” Aguirre said when asked if the sales made a significant impact on his team, in an interview with Sid Lowe for ESPN. “Deep down. I’m saying to my wife, “I signed for one team, now I have another.”
“Guido [Carrillo] was my sub for games when we had to hit the ball long, high. Now he’s my starter. It’s not just the players; it’s the formation, the approach. I can’t play with five at the back anymore; it has to be four [at the back] with two forwards, looking for crosses.
“If they’re slow [up front], I can’t play on the counter [like before], waiting, ready to spring … We have to go tumba abierta [“all out”]: press, rob higher, [risk] leaving space, try to play in the opposition’s half. I have to convince them, win them over.”
Mexican Aguirre has an extensive managerial career and counts Atletico de Madrid, Osasuna, Real Zaragoza and Espanyol among his former clubs.
He was appointed Leganes boss in November, when Mauricio Pellegrino was sacked.
“When Felipe [Moreno, Leganes vice president] and Victoria [Pavón, Leganes president] came for me after five years away in Japan, Egypt, Abu Dhabi, I said to myself, “Is it worth it at 61?” But then I said, “I’ll take the challenge,” he added.
“Why? Because I like it. I like feeling that I’m helping people and able to say: “Come on, we can do this.” It’s my passion. And if on top of that, I’m 20 minutes from home [Aguirre has a house in Madrid] and they put money in my account every month… haha! It’s not bad. Thank God every day.”
Image via Marca