Keisuke Honda, Enner Valencia and more newcomers to watch in Liga MX Apertura

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Goal looks at the new Pachuca and Tigres attackers plus other new faces who will look to lift the title after joining Liga MX from abroad

One of the best parts of any new season is seeing the new faces coming into a league, and Liga MX isn't short on exciting additions.

Last tournament, a number of players who were signed in the winter went on to be big-time contributors to their clubs in the Clausura. 

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While not the world's elite, the caliber of players brought in during the summer – and potentially still to arrive – likely mean the Apertura will be no different. Goal takes a look at seven newcomers who joined Liga MX from abroad and are set to play big roles...


Keisuke Honda, Pachuca


Bosman 2017 Keisuke Honda

Arriving from AC Milan on a free transfer, Keisuke Honda likely is the biggest name to come to Mexico during the summer window. While Pachuca probably won't use him as a direct replacement for Hirving Lozano, the winger's departure for PSV no doubt helped Tuzos bring the Japan international in.

After a season when a creative presence in the middle was missing, the 31-year-old could provide plenty for a team that also brought in Edson Puch this window. Puch could fill Lozano's spot on the outside with Honda serving as a replacement for Rodolfo Pizarro, who went to Chivas in the winter but was never truly replaced. It's a signing Pachuca hopes not only will boost its chances of a title this season but also in December's Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. 


Enner Valencia, Tigres


Enner Valencia West Ham Ecuador Copa America 2015

A familiar face in Liga MX after his brief but successful stop in Pachuca, Enner Valencia will be back in Mexico after Tigres signed Valencia from West Ham. Though the Ecuador international had spent the last year on loan at Everton, he never got up to speed with the Hammers or the Toffees.

Now he's not only back in a league where he scored just shy of a goal per appearance, he's also with a team that includes other attackers with European experience in Andre-Pierre Gignac, Eduardo Vargas and Javier Aquino or players who may be in Europe soon like Jurgen Damm and Ismael Sosa. Of course, that could be the issue. If nobody leaves the team, how will all the pieces fit together?


Felipe Mora, Cruz Azul


Felipe Mora Chile

After one Chilean striker took Mexico City by storm this year, it was time for another. Cruz Azul hopes former Universidad de Chile front man Felipe Mora will score as many or more goals as his compatriot Nicolas Castillo did with Pumas in the Clausura. Mora had 13 goals last season for La U, helping the team to its 18th league title and notching the same number of goals Castillo scored before he left for Liga MX.

The comparisons end there, though. Mora plays a different style than Castillo, whose nickname is "The Tank," and coach Paco Jemez will be hoping he combines well with fellow new additions Edgar on the wings and Alejandro Faurlin, who will look to give the forward support from midfield. 


Gustavo Bou, Tijuana


Gustavo Bou Juan Ortiz Racing Club Rionegro Aguilas Copa Sudamericana 01032017

New Tijuana coach Eduardo "Chacho" Coudet wanted to bring something with him from Argentina and succeeded when Racing forward Gustavo Bou signed a deal to join him on the border. Xolos could use the boost in attack. Last year, playmaker Aviles Hurtado was responsible for a large percentage of the team's goals. WIth Hurtado headed to Monterrey, Bou will have plenty of responsibility to find the back of the net.

There aren't many other back-up plans, with just speedster Henry Martin and fellow Argentine Juan Lucero listed as forwards on Tijuana's roster after Milton Caraglio and Amando Moreno were sent out on loan. It's the 27-year-old's first club outside South America, so adjusting quickly to the league and Estadio Caliente's artificial surface will be crucial. 


Juan Pablo Carrizo, Monterrey


Juan Pablo Carrizo Inter 19032015

Monterrey has quite the collection of goalkeepers after bringing in Argentine shot-stopper Juan Pablo Carrizo from Inter this summer. The former River Plate No. 1 will have to fight for his place in northern Mexico. Though one may still leave while the window is open, Hugo Gonzalez and Alexander Dominguez are still with the team.

Early indications are that Carrizo will be the No. 2 behind Gonzalez while Ecuador international Dominguez is headed for the exits, but either way Rayados have a number of goalkeepers who would start at other clubs in their ranks. How coach Antonio Mohamed rotates them will be something for fans to keep an eye on throughout the season.


Igor Lichnovsky, Necaxa


Igor Lichnovsky

After relying on defense to make the playoffs in the Apertura, Nexaca saw its back line start to suffer in the most recent tournament. The Rayos have moved to reinforce their defense by bringing in a center back, Igor Lichnovsky.

Lichnovsky, yet another Chilean to join Liga MX, signed with Porto but never saw the first team there and most recently played with Real Valladolid. Despite struggling to break through at the top club level, Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi called in the former U de Chile defender for a pair of World Cup qualification matches in 2016, though he didn't see the field.

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Santiago Garcia, Toluca


Santiago Garcia Bayer Leverkusen Werder Bremen DFB Pokal 09022016 

Left back is not one of the deepest positions in Liga MX, but Toluca coach Hernan Cristante is hoping to change that by bringing in Santiago Garcia from Werder Bremen. The Argentine arrives on a free transfer after failing to come to terms with the Bundesliga club.

Toluca has been relatively inactive in the summer market compared with other title contenders, so there may be a bit of pressure on Garcia to make an impact and help Toluca back to the semifinals or even get beyond the round they made in the 2017 Clausura.

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