Mexico has been the home of quality football for years, since the latter half of 20th century, Mexico has emerged as a footballing nation but have arguably been underachievers, at least their World Cup records says so.
But 21st century has seen emergence of Mexican talents who have been able to perform well in Europe as well. In the early days, Mexico’s homegrown legends were playing football only in Mexico. Any move to European clubs either was not present or was unsuccessful. Players like Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Jared Borgetti, Oswaldo Sanchez all have been Mexican stalwarts but in the European arena they have struggled; apart from Hugo Sanchez who was a Real Madrid legend. No other Mexican player have thrived in Europe.
But the scene has changed since the emergence of a certain “El Capitanero” Rafael Marquez, as he has paved the path and showed the world that a Mexican can have a successful career in Europe. Since then there has been a series of players who have made a move to Europe from the land of Aztecas and have been successful.
Today we shall look at 4 of the Mexican players who are faring well in Europe.
Javier made his move to England as a 21 year old when he joined Manchester United from Chivas de Guadalajara in 2010. The striker since has scored 101 goals in Europe for 3 different clubs – Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen. His meteoric rise in football saw him having an outstanding first 2 seasons at Old Trafford. Departure of Alex Ferguson somehow halted his career there but he did pretty well in Madrid after a loan move.
But Chicharito has found himself to be the premium best at Germany, after making a move to Bayer Leverkusen. He has so far scored 33 times for them in just 53 appearances, which speaks of his credentials. The fox in the box, and ultimate goal poacher has been lauded by his biggest critics and we can expect him to don the European football for at least 3 more seasons. Beside that, Chicharito has been outstanding for Mexico as well, he is just 2 goals away from becoming the all time greatest goal scorer of Mexico.
A career that promised a lot but somehow didn’t get the right path initially, Carlos Vela is another Chivas product who made his move to Arsenal after Arsene Wenger was impressed by his attributes in the 2005 U-17 World Cup in Peru. He joined the Gunners as a 16 year old and appeared 62 times for the Gunners, scoring 11 goals.
Vela always promised a lot with his amazing skills and other qualities, but never fulfilled his potential at The Emirates. He was loaned to several clubs including West Brom, Osasuna but a loan move to Real Sociedad changed it all for him. He scored 12 times during his loan stay with Sociedad and a subsequent permanent move was made in the 2012-13 season. So far Vela has netted 66 times for The Errealas and his stats are impressive with them. He has been involved in 37 assists as well, taking his tally to 103 involvement in goals in just 204 appearances for Sociedad.
Vela is also regarded highly as a Mexico player and he had a difficult time with his national team that saw him not taking part in the 2014 world cup. But the things are sorted out now and Vela has returned for El Tri. Vela is a dynamic and mobile forward that is able to play a more creative role due to his vision, technique and ability to pass and to shoot from range.
A near future move to any big club can’t be denied as the 27 year old approaches for another productive season.
Andres Guardado came in the European circuit as a 21 year old when he joined Deportivo La Coruna from Mexican side CF Atlas. Guardado started his career as a winger but can play at any position in the Left side. He was an integral part in La Coruna and helped them to secure promotion in the season 2011-12, scoring 11 goals and 12 assists in the process.
A subsequent move to Valencia was not so successful, where he was used as a Left back. He was loaned to Bayer Leverkusen and his stay at there was not significant. But, a loan move to PSV proved to be very productive as the Mexican found a new home there. He was influential and his work rate, quality going forward and hold up play impressed his dutch supporters.
On 15 March 2015, prior to the match against FC Groningen and amidst rumours of a transfer to Ajax PSV fans displayed a Mexican flag and a banner in Spanish which read “Andres Guardado, our Golden Mexican Eagle. He has to stay in PSV Eindhoven. Our house is your house, Andres.” His move was made permanent and since then Guardado has been a pivotal player in the team. The 30 year old Mexican has featured for 73 times with PSV, assisting 11 times in the process, but it’s more his box to box qualities, ability to control the pace of the game has made him a clear fan favourite in Eindhoven.
Andres is also another stalwart with Mexico in the International arena, as he so far has made 132 appearances for Mexico, and has found the net 24 times.
Photo by Francisco Carbajal