Two of Mexico's most promising youngsters could prove themselves on a bigger stage after moving to the Portuguese giant.Hector Herrera is in Portugal and the long-running saga of his move from Pachuca to Porto appears to be arriving at its conclusion.
The 23-year-old midfield has agreed personal terms, the clubs have agreed a fee – reportedly making Herrera the most expensive Mexican to move to Europe – and only the medical remains, which should be a formality.
If all runs smoothly, Herrera will complete a transfer to join 20-year-old Diego Reyes that could have significant repercussions for the national team.
So far, the Olympic gold medal winner has only two competitive starts in the full national team and only eight caps in total. But the big money move to Porto should catapult Herrera into the elite band of Mexican players that have experienced Champions League soccer in a World Cup season and should provide him the platform to raise his game.
With the central midfield position a headache position with Gerardo Torrado underperforming and Jesus Zavala still not an inked in starter, the path is open for Herrera to win the spot and hold it.
Like Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Herrera has the raw ingredients to succeed in Europe.
Anybody who has watched Herrera live knows exactly what Porto has bought. His awareness, vision and technique are a little bit special and with higher quality players around, Herrera should be able to take that talent and step his game up to a new level. He sees passes that others don’t, can dribble with the ball and isn’t afraid of tackling.
Combined with his stamina to get up and down the pitch for the full 90 minutes, Herrera can help Porto fans recover from the loss of Joao Moutinho in the center of the Dragoes’ midfield.
Nevertheless, there is still work to do for Herrera. There are reasons that Mexico coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre has preferred others in his starting lineups this season.
El Zorrillo – "skunk" in English, not "fox" as has been falsely stated – wasn’t the huge success at Pachuca he was expected to be last season, barring a quite sensational goal on the opening day of the season against Atlante. His consistency needs to improve, as does his ability to really make decisive imprint on games through scoring and directly assisting goals.
That said, he’s in a good place to improve. Porto’s record of buying Latin American talent at the right time, successfully developing players and then exporting them is really second to none and makes the club ideal for both Herrera and Reyes.
Hulk, James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and Deco are just some of the names the young duo will be hoping to replicate.
Next season, Mexican eyes will be very much focused on Portugal and on seeing just whether Reyes and Herrera can cut it and make a charge to overthrow veterans like Torrado and Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez in time for Brazil 2014.