A number of Mexican players will line up for European clubs this season, including several World Cup stars.Mexico coach Miguel Herrera has admitted that El Tri’s Europe-based players had that little bit extra quality in the World Cup. ‘Piojo’ has also stressed the ideal would be for more Mexicans to be playing in the Old Continent’s big leagues.
He will, however, be comforted by the fact that as 2014-15 European seasons approach, there is more excitement about Mexican involvement in the top leagues than perhaps there ever has been.
In Part 1 of a two-part preview, Goal USA takes a closer look at the Mexicans playing in Europe outside of Spain’s first division. Part 2 will be out next Friday and feature Mexicans in La Liga.
Javier Hernandez – Manchester United (Premier League)
The irony of the ‘Chicharito’ situation at present is that he is likely to start for the Red Devils against Swansea on Saturday, with the Manchester club going through a mini-injury crisis before the season has even begun. If he does so, he’ll already be one-sixth of the way to completing his total number of starts for last season.
And there lies the problem for 26-year-old Hernandez, who seems to be behind Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie in the pecking order and has no guarantee of playing more under Louis van Gaal than he did with David Moyes as manager.
Now entering his fifth season at Old Trafford, Hernandez’s place in the Mexican national team depends on more minutes for his club this season, wherever he ends up.
Ulises Davila – Chelsea (Premier League)
It is very unlikely that 23-year-old Davila will start the season at Stamford Bridge.
The big question is where he will end up, with a return to Cordoba – who Davila helped get promoted to La Liga last season – unlikely.
A Spanish first division club would be ideal, but the former Chivas forward is at a crucial stage in his development and needs to go where he is guaranteed minutes.
A loan move back to Mexico shouldn’t be completely ruled out as the transfer window slides shut.
Diego Reyes – Porto (Primeira Liga)
It’s easy to forget Reyes is still just 21 years old. He’s already won the Liga MX, got an Olympic gold, played in a World Cup and established himself in Europe.
This promises to be Reyes’ real breakthrough season, seeing him grow from perhaps the top Mexican youth prospect to a defender that big European teams are following very closely.
He should get regular playing time under Spaniard Julen Lopetegui now Eliaquim Mangala has left for Manchester City.
Hector Herrera – Porto (Primeira Liga)
A positive preseason for Herrera, who is set to take on much more responsibility this term for Porto and could be a key figure in propelling the side up the table after a poor performance in the league last season.
The former Pachuca player’s World Cup performances mean he’ll be watched by teams in the Premier League and La Liga. A good season and it could be his last in Portugal.
Porto getting into the Champions League – with an upcoming playoff against Lille depending – will be crucial for Herrera.
Rafa Marquez – Hellas Verona (Serie A)
The start of the new season in Italy may still be a couple of weeks away, but there’s no doubt that seeing how Marquez copes in Serie A at 35 years old promises to be almost as intriguing as Raul Jimenez at Atletico Madrid.
Marquez will be an automatic starter and a good season will see the debate re-opened as to whether the defender is the best-ever Mexican player.
Nery Castillo – Kalloni (Greek Super League)
Still the most expensive Mexican player in history, Castillo’s career has been one long, winding road, through Spain, Ukraine, England, the United States and Mexico. He now returns to where he first made his name in Greece, this time with minnows Kalloni. The goal is, once again, to recapture some of that old magic that saw him labeled as a major talent earlier in his career.
Jesus “Tecatito” Corona – FC Twente (Eredivisie)
These are testing times for Corona, who was expelled from the Twente first team’s preseason, with reports in the Netherlands suggesting it was because of a lack of fitness and/or a poor attitude to training.
There remains a possibility that the 21-year-old will leave the club before the end of the transfer window.
Jonathan Espericueta – Villarreal B (Segunda Division B)
Having just turned 20, midfielder Espericueta will be looking to start more games and impress this time around at Villarreal’s third division side, with his loan deal from Tigres running out at the end of the year.
Diego Gama – Atletico Madrid B (Segunda Division B)
A loan deal for Toluca’s 18-year-old striker – who has been prolific in the club’s youth teams – brought Gama to Madrid, where he will feature in Atleti’s reserves.
Aaron Sandoval – Espanyol B (Segunda Division B)
Let go by Pumas, 20-year-old defender Sandoval will be looking to develop along the lines of Espanyol’s other Mexican, Hector Moreno.