Should Mexico's Top Soccer Stars Play Abroad?

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23:  Javier Hernandez of Manchester United celebrates scoring his team's third goal to make the score 3-2 during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between Manchester United and SC Braga at Old Trafford on October 23, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

In recent years the Mexican footballers have been better prepared and mentally strong when they face class rivals. This has resulted in rumors about transfers to Europe, mainly.

But are these youngsters ready to leave their clubs? As with anything, there are pros and cons.

Let’s start with the advantages.

According to the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) the Mexican league (Liga MX) is the 11th best in the world as of July 2012.

Spain tops the list, followed by Argentina, Brazil, England and Italy. So, if the Mexican footballers leave to a more competitive league they will probably become better.

How? First in the training sessions, which are tougher and more demanding. On the pitch, the pace of European football is very different from Mexican football; it’s not only about speed, it also has to do with the physical performance and the toughness. The two are worlds apart.

International competitions, such as the U-17 FIFA World Cup, the U-20 FIFA World Cup and the 2012 Olympics, have been key in this process.

Players like Pável Pardo, Carlos Salcido, Ricardo Osorio, Francisco Fonseca and Jared Borgetti had their chance after the 2005 Confederations Cup.

They automatically became undisputed starters for the national team. No questions asked, they were better prepared and were following Rafael Márquez' steps.

Dubbed Los Europeos in reference to the continent where they were playing, these footballers were El Tri's stars at the 2006 World Cup because they were better than those who played in the local league.

For Salcido, Pardo and Osorio, the move resulted in titles and praise from media, while Borgetti and Fonseca returned to Mexico without glory.

Meanwhile the new generation, led by Carlos Vela, Efraín Juárez and Héctor Moreno, drew attention from European clubs after the 2005 U-17 FIFA World Cup. They ultimately left Mexico to try their luck.

This gave fans high hopes as they thought that these youngsters would change the national team in the blink of an eye. But even when they were part of English and Spanish clubs, they were not playing as much, or, in some cases, at all.

Here’s where we talk about the disadvantages.

Sure, those that have had the chance to leave are usually superior to those that play in Mexico, but staying on the bench can really hurt their talent. 

Carlos Vela hardly ever touched a ball while playing with Arsenal. With West Bromwich he played eight times, and it wasn't until he left to Spain that he finally came back.

Taufic Guarch, who played the 2011 U-20 FIFA World Cup, left to Espanyol B and after 10 months he is back in Liga MX with Tigres.

Ulises Dávila was loaned to Vitesse for the 2011-12 season; he appeared three times before leaving to Spanish club Sabadell.

Since the competition in Europe is tougher, securing a spot in the team is complicated and takes a lot more work.

For instance, Javier Hernández would be an undisputed starter with Chivas because he would compete against Carlos Fierro, Miguel Sabah and Rafael Márquez Lugo for the position. While with the Red Devils, he has to top Danny Welbeck, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.

Financially, if they do not become regulars, they will not make as much money as they would in Mexico.

It is not only about the salary. The sponsors are also a key factor. The fans want to have their favorite player’s jersey and the only way to have a preferred footballer is if you see him on the pitch.

Leaving to Europe may be the best thing that can happen to their careers, but they have to understand the chances they are taking.

Of course they will be capped for El Tri. Giovani dos Santos has been called 59 times since 2009, even though he has only appeared 41 times since the 2009-2010 season. 

But joining a European club does not guarantee them to become superstars. They need to work hard and prove why they were chosen.



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