GUADALAJARA – While Mexican youngsters like Isaac Brizuela, Carlos Pena, Marco Fabian, Raul Jimenez and Alan Pulido will seek to impress at the World Cup and hope that a move to Europe materializes, at least four of El Tri’s Europe-based legion have plenty at stake regarding their futures over the pond.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Guillermo Ochoa, Andres Guardado and Hector Moreno are all likely to move on from their club sides on this summer. How they do in Brazil could well affect their immediate club careers, but first they have to get into the Mexican starting team and earn minutes at the sport’s biggest event, something that is no guarantee under coach Miguel Herrera.
Here’s a look at how they are set ahead of Mexico’s friendlies, which start next Wednesday in Mexico City against Israel.
The only definite World Cup starter among Mexico’s Europe-based contingent.
Espanyol center back Moreno is hitting the prime of his career, has seven seasons in two different European leagues under his belt and, should a reasonable offer come in, the cash-strapped Barcelona club, has hinted it would be more than willing to sell the Mexican.
Moreno has stated in recent days that he is happy at Espanyol and, according to reports, has two years left on his contract, but he is also looking to play Champions League or Europa League soccer and that will require a move.
Moreno may not be the biggest name in Mexico’s squad, but few would argue that he is the country’s best export over the last five years, with his steady improvement and regular playing time.
There has even been a suggestion that Moreno could even fit in at Manchester United, with the Sinaloa native having shone under Louis van Gaal when at AZ Alkmaar and the Premier League club being on the look-out for center backs with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic having left.
A big move for Moreno would be the ideal next step in a career that has been exemplary so far.
The 28-year-old goalkeeper refused a break after his season in France with Ajaccio came to an end with the team relegated to the Ligue 2. Ochoa said Wednesday he preferred to get straight into training with the Mexican national team to keep up his form and fitness.
Rumors about Marseille and AC Milan continue to swirl, but the only certainty at present is that he will not be at Ajaccio next season, after his contract winds down.
As for his place with El Tri, two-World Cup veteran Ochoa sat on the bench in both Germany and South Africa and, according to Herrera, is starting from scratch along with Alfredo Talavera and Jesus Corona to wear the No. 1 shirt at the World Cup.
Like Moreno, Ochoa is just entering his prime and his next move is crucial.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez
The former Chivas player’s situation at Manchester United is well-known and with Robin Van Persie’s position at the club strengthened by Van Gaal’s appointment, the writing seems to be on the wall for Hernandez.
Giovani Dos Santos and Oribe Peralta will provide plenty of competition for the starting spot for Mexico, but Hernandez will be keen to net at least a couple of goals in the World Cup warm-ups and state his case for the first game in Brazil against Cameroon on June 13.
Hernandez admitted this week that his future is up in the air and the World Cup would be a good opportunity to both prove the doubters wrong and put himself in the shop window.
It’s been a rough season for Guardado with his lukewarm form at Valencia in the first half of 2013-14 in La Liga followed by a lack of minutes and injury at Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.
The light at the end of the tunnel is that he’s made the World Cup squad.
Guardado has stated he has two years left on his contract and isn’t interested in returning to Mexico just yet, although reports from Spain suggest he could well be sold by Valencia.
The pre-World Cup friendlies will be key for 27-year-old Guardado, with his style perfectly suited to the left wing back role, but Miguel Layun is in front for the starting spot at present.