Tom Marshall: Foreign-born Liga MX players could help El Tri

A number of players are en route to completing the immigration process and becoming Mexican citizens and could help Chepo de la Torre as a result.
Recent changes in Liga MX rules to allow foreign players to play as Mexicans after 10 consecutive seasons (five years), as long as they complete the immigration procedure to become citizens, has led to a boom in players seeking Mexican citizenship. That could mean some intriguing new potential options for Mexico coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre in the near future.

Cruz Azul’s Christian Gimenez has rushed through his immigration papers so his team has the option of bringing in an additional foreign player, and the 32-year-old came out on Monday to say that, after careful thought, he would readily accept a call from de la Torre to play for El Tri.

“I thought a lot about it, I spoke with my wife and soccer-wise I made my name here in Mexico,” Gimenez said on Monday. “I have a special affection for the shirt, for the country.”

Fellow Argentine Martin Bravo is also in the immigration process and has stated his desire to play in the green shirt.

“It would be an honor and an achievement to be considered for the Mexican national team,” forward Bravo was quoted as saying earlier this month.

Tigres striker Emanuel Villa said it was something that wasn’t in his head. Teammate Lucas Lobos – one of Liga MX’s top creative players – is also in the immigration process, although he too has calmed suggestions that an appearance with Mexico is likely.

Brazilian Lucas Silva has just completed a couple of excellent seasons with Toluca and has the physical presence that could benefit de la Torre’s struggling team. Monterrey’s new signing is married to a Mexican and has two Mexico-born children.

“I will talk about it the day I have the document that tells me I am Mexican,” is what Silva had to say about playing for Mexico to ESPN Deportes. He was spotted with immigration authorities in Mexico City earlier this month.

All of the last three would likely be in the mix for Mexico, and it would hard to see them refusing with the World Cup less than a year away. The list doesn’t end there, however. Club America’s Rubens Sambueza is on record stating he’d love to suit up for El Tri. Monterrey’s Neri Cardozo, Morelia ‘keeper Federico Vilar, Tijuana captain Javier Gandolfi and Santos Laguna’s Mauro Cejas can all potentially apply and will likely be encouraged to in order to not take up one of the five foreigner spots each Liga MX team is permitted.

The league’s new rules have opened the door to the possibility of non-Mexican born players featuring for El Tri is ever greater. The argument over the rights and wrongs of it and whether they would stop younger Mexico-born talents from breaking through will likely be fierce, but Chepo has already handed a debut to Argentine Damian Alvarez in his spell as manager and the different traits players like Lobos and Silva could bring would be enticing to many a national team coach.

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