The center back has been Mexico's most consistent defender for years and has done the same at PSV, where he led a defense that allowed fewer goals this season than any other team in the goal-happy Eredivisie. Moreno is good in the air but also quick enough to cope with pacy players cutting inside. And, while perhaps unfairly remembered for a tackle that injured Luke Shaw, his reputation as a player who can put in a tough tackle isn't unearned.
“I am very happy to sign for Roma,” Moreno said in a news release. “This represents an important step up in my career. I hope I can show my individual qualities and contribute to the overall success of the team.”
While Moreno's defensive capabilities have earned him recognition, he's a truly modern center back with his skills on the ball. The passing ability the defender has to find forwards who are tucking into space or to use his left foot to switch the field to an isolated winger on the right side have been joyfully utilized by Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio. And he's not bad in the box either, scoring seven goals in the Eredivisie last season, more than any other defender.
Moreno was clearly purchased for a reason. While Roma's American president Jim Pallotta will be pleased to have a North American international to be the face of the team in the U.S. and Mexico, the low-key Moreno has arrived for sporting reasons. Not only did Roma move to finalize the deal prior to the Confederations Cup, it's also the first signing the club made under new sporting director Ramon Rodriguez. The director, better known as "Monchi", is renowned for the savvy buys he made during 17 years with Sevilla. So, you'd think Moreno wasn't brought in to sit on the bench.
“Moreno has been a target of mine for a long time, and fortunately now the circumstances are right for him to join us at Roma,” Monchi said in a news release. “This is a central defender with a lot of international experience, and he fits the profile we were looking for perfectly.”
That said, he'll still face competition. Federico Fazio, on loan from Tottenham, was named to several Serie A Best XIs in the left center-back position Moreno typically plays, though there's some chatter he might be bound for a transfer himself this offseason. Greek defender Kostas Manolas held down the right center-back spot, while Mario Rui played left back. Moreno may slot in at left back as an alternative to Rui. The club's new coach, Eusebio Di Francesco, likes to play a 4-3-3, not unlike Osorio at the national team level. That could bode well for Moreno earning the former Sassuolo manager's trust.
The truth is, this transfer has come too late for Moreno. He was linked with some of the world's biggest clubs during the 2014 World Cup but broke his leg against Honduras, Mexico's final game of the tournament. That delayed any move away from Espanyol that was in the works. Though he's been able to play in the UEFA Champions League since joining PSV in 2015, this deal finally sees the 29-year-old in the ranks of a top club and at a top league. It will be up to him to win a spot and make the most of the years he has left playing at a top level.
But the Culician, Sinaloa, native has fought for his place, fought back from injury, fought to get to a big club. Now that he's there, there's no reason to believe Moreno will stop fighting now.