Mexico has started to become a feeder for select european clubs looking to find international gems. Much of this has been due to Mexico’s youth teams recent success: U17 World Cup(Gold 2005, Gold 2011, Silver 2013), U20 World Cup(Bronze 2011), U23 Olympic(Gold 2012).
Similarily Mexico has players performing admirably in top champion league sides: Chicharito(Leverkusen), Layun(Porto), Herrera(Porto), Tecatito(Porto), Guardado(PSV), Moreno(PSV), Jimenez(Benfica).
Interest in Mexican prospects is building and despite a quiet transfer window just a few months ago, several Mexican’s are poised for moves through the rest of 2016 and 2017.
The following players are a few of the names that we could see making the trip across the pond in the coming months. You will notice a youth theme here as all of them are 23 years old or younger.
Hirving "Chucky" Lozano (Age 20)
Club Pachuca — Right Winger, Left Winger
Quickly cementing himself as the most promising young talent among the Mexican ranks. Despite Club Pachuca’s continuous insistence on retaining their top young talent, I see "Chucky" making a move by the end of the year. The talent is undeniable and teams like Manchester United, Liverpool and Porto are said to already be eyeing the youngster.
Lozano’s most intriguing quality is his unrelenting and aggressive pace. He routinely dribbles past opposing defenders on the flanks using cunning cuts and misdirections. He is also extremely quick off the ball and makes it easy for his teammates to play him on through balls in dangerous positions. Lozano also has an eye for goal with 27 goals with his club in 85 appearances. Lozano has already begun to shine with Mexican National Team scoring in a 3–0 win against Canada last month.
It will be interesting to see how Mexican skipper Juan Carlos Osorio decides to use him in the upcoming National Team schedule. Will he play in the Olympics, Copa America or both? Regardless, the future is bright for this young star and a good summer showing will surely secure a hefty transfer tag that Pachuca will be hard-pressed to overlook.
Orbelin Pineda (Age 20)
Club Chivas — Central Midfielder, Attacking Midfielder
Orbelin Pineda just turned 20 years old a few weeks ago but is already one of the best midfielders in Liga MX. Orbelin came up with Gallos Blancos of Queretaro and debuted at just 17 years of age. Since then he led a resource depleted Queretaro squad to a Liga MX final in 2015 and showcased why he is a force to be reckoned with on the Mexican football scene. His impressive form in 2015 prompted Club Chivas to pay a $6Million transfer this winter for the then 19 year old phenom.
Orbelin is a unique player, he has the ability to play all over the field. With Gallos Blancos he played mainly as an attacking midfielder and excelled in that position. It is from this position that his pace, dribbling, long-range shot, passing vision and play-making skills are on full display. With Chivas he has been utilized as a central defensive midfielder and has stepped up to the challenge by becoming the most solid midfield player on a rising squad. As a defensive midfielder he has showcased superb ball-pressure, ball-recovery and world-class fitness. In his youth career and in Mexico U20 & U17 squads he regularly played as center forward, left-winger and right-winger. He is extremely multi-dimensional and a true two way player. He is a lock for 3–5 goals per season and even more assists / hockey assists as he is superb in the setup game.
I expect a lot from Orbelin and believe he will challenge for a midfield spot on the 2018 world cup squad. He is ready for an european transfer but his recent transfer to Chivas may hold him back for a year or two. I expect Chivas will see a constant barrage of offers in just a few months time for the talented youngster.
Rodolfo Pizzaro (Age 22)
Club Pachuca — Attacking Midfielder, Right Midfielder, Right Back, Forward
Pizarro is part of the trio of young stars from "Tuzos" Club Pachuca. He is a multi-dimensional player being utilized mostly in central attacking positions this season. In previous seasons he has spent significant time as a right back and right midfielder. He is still just 22 years of age and already has significant experience in Mexico’s top division (115 games). His scoring has increased significantly this season with 5 goals in the Clausura 2016 Tournament.
Pizarro is a complete player. He does not have a singular trait that he excels at. Instead he beats you by being above average at just about everything. He has good dribbling, first-touch, passing, pace and quickness. His game is very dynamic and he is always looking to connect with his teammates on link-up plays. He plays hard and gives maximum effort and has the potential to get even better with higher level competition.
Pizarro has been linked with Manchester United and Twente moves in recent weeks. He is the player that I think could benefit the most from a European transfer. He has some untapped potential that is not being brought out by LigaMX competition. He is on the fence in terms of natural talent and will either take his game to another level in Europe or come back as a failed experiment. Expect him and his agent to make a strong push now that his level of play is peaking before his 23rd birthday.
Carlos Salcedo (Age 22)
Club Chivas — Central Defender
Salcedo is a prototypical center back. He forms a formidable tandem with Jair Pereira in Club Chivas for a defense that has the fewest goals against in the Liga MX 2016 Clausura tournament through 15 games. Pundits like to point out that he has had some mishaps this season but fail to point out that he is commanding the top defense in Liga MX at just 22 years of age.
When you think of what a center back is supposed to look like you think or Carlos Salcedo. He is tall, strong, physically imposing and quick on the ball. He has superb slide tackling and is willing to throw his body into danger if it means stopping an opponents attack. He is usually good with the ball in his feet and is a natural leader on the pitch. Unfortunately Salcedo has made some critical and uncharacteristic errors this season which has brought his stock down in many’s minds.
Chivas would be very hard-pressed to find a replacement of his level if he were to make a European transfer. Mexico is going through a notoriously weak phase at the center back position. If Salcedo can step his game up in the Olympics and close out the year strong he should be in line for a European transfer in 2016 or 2017 at the latest. Within 2–3 years I expect Salcedo to become a constant fixture on the National Team surpassing Diego Reyes for the spot opposite Hector Moreno.
Jurgen Damm (Age 23)
Club Tigres — Right Winger
Damm is an extremely naturally gifted player. He is considered by FIFA to be the second fastest player in the world behind only Gareth Bale of Real Madrid. His speed on the right wing is unstoppable when he is given space to operate. He is coming off a Liga MX championship with Club Tigres where much of the build-up went through his attacking side. He is also part of the legion of young Pachuca stars as he only made the move to Tigres last June. Tigres paid a record setting $8Million transfer fee to Pachuca for the rights to the talented young winger.
Damm was very near to a transfer with club Roma before settling for a talented Club Tigres side instead. Playing in Damm’s favor is that he holds a German passport due to his family’s ancestry allowing him to come into a european side without occupying a foreign player roster slot.
Damm is a bundle of untapped potential. He is faster, taller and more technically skilled than most Mexican players. When he is on he is as dangerous as any player in the league. But his inconsistency is what has been holding him back. Too often he seems to disappear from games. He has yet to solidify a National team spot and seems to have younger players passing him on the depth chart at the national level. Let’s wait and see how this summer goes for him and if he is able to showcase the natural talent that makes him such an attractive move for European clubs.
He could also afford to add a bit more muscle to his frame. For this reason it seems as if a european move could be helpful. European clubs strength training programs are miles better than the equivalent Mexican standard. We have seen countless Mexican’s add significant muscle when they move to more physically demanding European leagues. Damm could leverage this to take his game to the next level.
Erick "Guti" Gutierrez (Age 20)
Club Pachuca — Central Midfielder, Defensive Midfielder
The last of Pachuca’s young legion of stars. He made his debut at just 18 years old and is now his clubs captain at just 20 years of age. He is also Mexico’s U23’s team captain. A natural leader and orchestrator on the pitch if you’ve ever seen one. He moves with class throughout the pitch and his game appears almost effortless. His brilliance comes from the simplicity of his game. Mexico has long lacked a creative central midfielder with the vision, technique and composure of Erik Gutierrez.
He had a dip in form but seems to be recovering nicely this year and may play himself into a European transfer. The talent is there but I would be curious to see how he does with higher caliber competition. I believe he may struggle initially in a league that is more physical and gives him less time on the ball. His game relies on setting up his teammates and on his superb positioning. This may be affected on a new team where he may not have such young dynamic players around him.
Despite playing in defensive midfielder positions frequently, he is always a threat to score and has a superb long-distance shot. He can stand to build more muscle and may benefit from an european transfer for this reason similar to Damm. "Guti" will likely be the last of the Pachuca trio to leave the club but could end up being the best of the lot if he continues to develop his game. He will lead an Olympic squad this summer that has high expectations. Lets see how he performs and if it merits an european transfer.