Mexican passport puts end to Ochoa's potential Napoli move

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JORGE GUERRERO
The club's president said he liked the El Tri star and met with his agents but was turned off by his lack of an EU passport

Guillermo Ochoa's hopes of returning to one of Europe's top four leagues look to have been dashed in part because of his nationality.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said Wednesday that while he liked the Mexico No. 1 and had met with his agents, Ochoa was bumped down the list of potential goalkeepers because of his lack of an EU passport.

Now it appears the Serie A side is set to turn to Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina, who arrived in Europe in 2008, three years before "Memo" moved from Club America.

The Napoli chief said Ochoa and Ospina were on his wish-list along with Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and Fiorentina's Ciprian Tatarusanu, but Ochoa's lack of an EU passport made it difficult for Napoli to bring him in. Serie A caps the number of players clubs can sign from outside the country who don't have an EU passport.

"Mignolet? He’s a great goalkeeper. We were following him, Ochoa and Ospina and Tatarusanu also. There were four names on the list," De Laurentiis told Radio Kiss Kiss. "Ochoa, however, while I liked him and even though his agents came to see us in Dublin, I don’t want to take him anymore because he’s a non-EU citizen and (Italian Olympic Committee President Giovanni) Malago does not want to change Italian football. If I were him I would’ve enriched Italian football. I wonder why the FIGC (Italian Football Federation) doesn’t change anything."

Ochoa hoped to move on from Standard Liege this offseason, but it now appears a move to a big club may once again evade him. The shot-stopper starred at the 2018 World Cup, as he did in the 2014 edition.

Yet he's bounced around Europe without landing at one of the continent's biggest clubs. Standard were bounced from the Champions League by Ajax on Tuesday after a 3-0 loss in Amsterdam sent it to a 5-2 aggregate defeat. While Ochoa wouldn't be cap-tied to Standard for the competition, with the play-off round matches not locking him down, there seem to be few opportunities for the former America player.

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It's only the latest transfer frustration for the 33-year-old. After the 2014 World Cup, he was linked with Liverpool but signed at Malaga where he found himself stuck behind Cameroonian goalkeeper Carlos Kameni. He was loaned to Granada for the 2016-17 season, where he allowed more goals than any goalkeeper in La Liga history but also led the league in saves that season. He was voted Player of the Season by the club's fans after often coming to the rescue of a poor back line.

After Granada's relegation, Ochoa ended up in Belgium, where he had a good debut season. However, between a strong first year and his performances in the World Cup, Ochoa was looking to move back into Europe's top leagues. 

His contract with Standard expires at the end of this season.

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