Tom Marshall: Key season for Mexicans in Europe

El Tri's men abroad will need big seasons for their clubs if they are to help the national team find its form.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Mexico’s fate in Brazil 2014 –assuming El Tri qualifies – depends to a large extent on how the country’s 12-player contingent in the Old Continent performances this season, especially with so many question marks hanging over players heading into the opening round of matches in European leagues.

In Spain, Giovani Dos Santos leads the Mexican charge at new club Villarreal looking to put an end to the stop-start nature of his club career so far and finally establish himself as one of La Liga’s top players.

Early signs from Dos Santos’ form in Mexico’s 4-1 victory over Ivory Coast bode well, but consistency is the key for the Barcelona youth product.

Alongside him at the Madrigal, Javier Aquino is set to debut in Spain’s first division and now has the platform to show he is ready to step up from those Olympic performances onto the really big stage.

Aquino’s real problem has been getting shoved off the ball to easily – due to his light frame – and finding a way to overcome that will be key.

Jonathan Dos Santos has done the opposite of his older brother and stayed at Barcelona hoping for the rewards of an extended run in the first team at one of – if not the –world’s most storied clubs.

It’s a high-risk strategy for Jonathan – who could’ve gone to Real Sociedad this summer – but if it doesn’t work out, there’s always the option of a move in the winter transfer window.

Still at Real Sociedad, Carlos Vela has a chance to make a significant impact in the Champions League, but the real question mark this season is whether at some point he will change his mind and suit up for El Tri.

It’s another big season for Andres Guardado at Valencia. Now a stalwart of Mexico’s foreign legion, the Guadalajara native hasn’t performed consistently for El Tri in 2013 and is fighting harder for his spot than at any time since the last World Cup.

The possibility of Valencia coach Miroslav Djukic using Guardado at left back could have fascinating consequences for Mexico’s national team.

At 29 years old, Nery Castillo is making his debut in La Liga, after joining Rayo Vallecano from Pachuca. Once-upon-a-time the great hope for Mexico, Castillo needs to make a major impact if he is to get back into the national team.

To wrap it up in Spain, the colossus Hector Moreno begins the season as one of Espanyol’s key figures under former El Tri coach Javier Aguirre, but there has been confirmation of another club showing real interest. Watch this space.

In Portugal, Diego Reyes and Hector Herrera embark on their first campaign with Porto and El Tri coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre should be desperate to see both get regular minutes.

The big fear for two of Mexico’s most talented youngsters is that neither will get sufficient playing time, which could limit their fine progress leading into the World Cup.

Both can walk into El Tri’s starting XI with a good season for Porto.

Over in France, Guillermo Ochoa remains at Ajaccio, where he has declared himself to be very happy with life.

The only worry from his point of view must be that his fine form for the Corsican club hasn’t translated into national team starts, but there is an outside chance he could move before the transfer window slams shut.

The lone Mexican regular in England, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has his own battle to win his place among Manchester United’s attacking talent, under new manager David Moyes.

The former Chivas player will likely accept a place on the bench, as long as he is getting some minutes, but anything less and even the ever-positive Chicharito could be forced to look for an exit strategy.

Ulises Davila’s short and long-term future continues to be up in the air at Chelsea, with the likeliest option a loan move to Cordoba in the Spanish second division.

The list ends of Mexicans in Europe ends there, for now, but there could potentially be additions to the Mexican legion in Europe before the end of the month, with rumors suggesting Monterrey youngster Jesus Corona is close to making a move to Holland and one report out of Mexico stating Tigres’ Jorge Espericueta is on Barcelona’s radar.