The experts of the soccer world maintain that the numbers are being unfair with Sporting, especially at a defensive level. Because Abelardo’s men have conceded 20 goals in 17 games. Poor data, and it is that Sporting has two very coveted central defenders in the market and valued by the rojiblancos managers: Pablo Insua and Cali Izquierdoz. The two were signed last summer market to cover the departures of Babin, Marc Valiente and Borja López. The Galician defender was the only signing approved by the previous sports management that passed the filter with the change of ownership and had the approval of Gerardo García; while the Argentine defender came endorsed by the Orlegi Group. In recent weeks, different clubs –especially in Argentina– have shown interest in recruiting Cali. But the Argentine defender has dismissed them, according to different sources. One, the most recent, from San Lorenzo. But he has also called them Estudiantes de la Plata. And before Al-Nassr of the Saudi Arabian First Division.
Insua and Izquierdoz have been married from the beginning and are fixed in Abelardo’s schemes. Two Asturian coaches, José Alberto and Hernán Pérez, emphasize the dimension of the rojiblanca couple, one of the most important, if not the most, of the Second Division, the coaches explain. Insua wins 5.88 duels per game and Cali 5.52. Meanwhile, the Argentine intercepts 5.99 balls and the Galician 4.15. Insua is among the top central defenders with the best data, according to LaLiga numbers. “They are two high-level central defenders. They have a high percentage of aerial balls won. They are solvent on a defensive level. Solid. They have a great capacity to resolve melee situations, from lateral centers. They impose a lot on any striker in the category. They are central defenders, of which few remain: they like to defend and scare the forwards”, analyzes José Alberto López.
Hernán Pérez enters the scene, until just ten days ago Lugo’s coach. “Insua is one of the best of Sporting, without a doubt. Defensively he is top, very safe from high, intelligent when he jumps to pressure and dangerous from set pieces in attack. He is the best signing of those they made. Cali is good too, I’m sure he’s high, although he suffers more when he has to run backwards and when he has to jump under pressure, but he’s very intelligent and he’s also top in area defense,” he stresses. The former Boca Juniors captain, in fact, has rejected various proposals in recent months, all financially superior, and maintains his commitment to continue at Sporting. The last one, from San Lorenzo de Almagro. “They contacted my representative last week. I appreciate the call, but I’m fine here,” the center-back confessed yesterday to Radio Marca Asturias. The high level in Spain of the 34-year-old defender has provoked more proposals from football in his country. Different sources maintain that Estudiantes de la Plata has also expressed interest in recruiting the defender born in San Carlos de Bariloche. And an even more economically powerful exotic: from Al-Nassr, from the First Division of Saudi Arabia, who made an offer with conditions that are clearly superior to the current parameters of the central defender in Mareo, according to these same sources. At that time, Izquierdoz kept his word with Sporting, where he signed a two-year contract (2024). He has now transferred his agent (Gastón Publico) not to listen to the proposal of San Lorenzo, nor the interest of Estudiantes, because his will is to continue in the rojiblanco club.
Insua is the outfield player with the most minutes (1,391). And Cali the third (1,336). “Whenever I can, I watch the Spanish League. I have seen several games by Pablo (Insua). He is having a great year with Cali. He was calm, a winner in duels, with a good ball output, concentrated, intense… liked it a lot”, confesses José Luis Oltra, the coach who made him debut in the First Division.