A total of 88 soccer players changed clubs in a market for contracts worth dozens of millions of U.S. dollars in just a few days, local media reported on Wednesday.
Barcelona, a team from Ecuador's second city Guayaquil, tied as the most active signer, spending nine million dollars signing 16 players, including national team captain, Ivan Hurtado, signed for 900,000 dollars and Argentine striker Rolando Zarate. Barcelona chiefs say the club is targeting a national title that has eluded it for 10 straight years.
Hurtado joins from Colombian league team Atletico Nacional, where he spurred the team to two championship titles.
Barcelona also signed eight more Ecuador national team players: Omar de Jesus, Jorge Guagua, Oscar Bagui, Carlos Castro, CristhianLara, David Quiroz, Edmundo Zura and Pablo Palacios.
Deportivo, a team from Ecuadorian capital Quito, also signed 16 new players for the 2008 season, including Argentine striker Martin Mandra, who played for Azoguez. Deportivo has not won the league since 1968.
Current league champion Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito (LDUQ) hired three: goalkeepers Daniel Viteri and Jose Cevallos, a former national team captain; and national team striker Jaime IvanKaviedes. But it lost national team member Cristian Mora. LDUQ is also negotiating with Mexican team America for winger Luis Fernando Saritama.
LDUQ is one of three Ecuadorian teams set to play in the Libertadores Cup, South America's biggest soccer club contest, in a group made up of Paraguay's Libertad, Brazil's Fluminense and the winner of a qualifying match between Argentina's Arsenal and Venezuela's Atletico Minero.
Ecuador's other Libertadores teams are Deportivo, from the cityof Cuenca, and Olmedo from the city of Riobamba, which is in play-offs for a group phase place.