With another pair of international friendlies coming to an end, what better time to discuss the much needed renovation of players called up for el Tri. Let me start by saying this article is strictly my opinion, it is based on observations and careful consideration. I have no personal bone to pick with any of these players nor am I ungrateful for all they have done for Mexico. I just think it is time to move on without them and prepare for Qatar 2022.
Mexico is still without a coach, but interim coach Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti made it a point to call up some new players for the friendlies. Sure, the results were not all positive, but it was refreshing to see el Tri without some of the players we have seen for the past ten plus years. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the aging players that are past their prime and their possible replacements.
It is time to say goodbye to; Guillermo Ochoa, Jose de Jesus Corona, and Alfredo Talavera. Mexico was very lucky that these three players came into their prime at the same time because they never lacked a talented goalkeeper. Unfortunately, time catches up with everyone and these guys are all over 33. It is time to start calling up any young prospect available to get them the needed experience before the qualifiers start. Gibran Lajud, Rodolfo Cota, Raul Gudiño, and Alfredo Saldivar are all good keepers. They can be a bit inconsistent but they definitely have talent. If all else fails, there is always “Conejo” Perez who will probably still be around, seeing as how he is ageless and immortal.
Hector Moreno has had an amazing career. While still very young, he left Pumas for Europe, and despite some ups and downs, he has managed to stay in the Europe for over a decade. Time has slowed Moreno down quite a bit and he is now 30, he is no longer a guaranteed starter for Real Sociedad and may be making a move after this season to Liga MX or MLS. Miguel Layun has been playing left and right back for el Tri for a very long time. His career has taken him all over Europe, and even though he is no longer a starter, he continues to fight for minutes at Villarreal.
It seems like central defense will still be covered by Carlos Salcedo, Diego Reyes, and Antonio Briseño, who all play in Europe and they get lots of playing time for their clubs. Nestor Araujo is already 28 and might be in decline by 2022, but if he is still playing in Europe, he could still be considered.
In Liga MX, we have Edson Alvarez, who may not be a starter but still gets important minutes for Club America. Then there are the lesser known players like Alan Mendoza from Pumas, a player that has emerged this season as a full back that can get up the wing and contribute to the attack.
Jonathan Dos Santos is still young enough to be considered for 2022, although 28 is pushing it. More than his age, it is his level that that should keep him out of that call ups. His time in MLS has shown that he is nowhere near the level he was at when he played for Villarreal or Barcelona. Jonathan has been deployed all over the midfield, so there are many players to replace him with. Andres Guardado, has been a shining example of a professional footballer for over a decade. He made the most of short time with Atlas and that led him to make a move to the Netherlands and then to Spain. He has had a very good career, that has unfortunately been hampered by constant injuries. His age and the wear & tear on his body make him an ideal candidate for replacement. Marco Fabian has had a tumultuous career that has culminated in him being marginalized at Eintracht Frankfurt. He will try to find a club this winter but it is time to find a replacement for this mercurial attacking midfielder as well.
Erick Gutiérrez recently made his move abroad and is showing his box to box skills in the midfield for PSV. Although Hector Herrera is the same age as Dos Santos, his level has not dropped and he continues to lead the Porto FC midfield. There are a few talented midfielders in Liga MX to keep an eye on too. Jonathan Gonzalez of Monterrey is a promising young talent that could very well be the starting defensive mid for then next two World Cups.
It is way past time to say goodbye to Giovani Dos Santos. He has given Mexico fans plenty to cheer about dating back to his amazing displays at the U-17 World Cup and in the 2011 Gold Cup. Giovani has also given fans plenty to jeer about. Many of us felt that he never reached his true potential because of off the field distractions and personal life choices. He has played in many different positions in attack. He has been an attacking midfielder, winger, and striker. Carlos Vela continues to shine and light up the MLS but his age and the low level of MLS make him another player from the “Golden Generation” that we must bid farewell to.
Mexico has many established players to cover these positions, as well as some up and coming players. Hirving Lozano and Jesus “Tecatito” Corona are established wingers playing in Europe. In Liga MX, we have Rodolfo Pizarro, who can play as a false-9 or second striker, as well as an attacking midfielder. There is also Diego Lainez. a young prospect that can cover the attacking midfielder and winger positions.
Very few players have inspired as much love from the fans as Javier Hernandez. His early success in Chivas led him to a spectacular move abroad to Manchester United. Under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson, Chicharito lit up the Premier League with his goals. In search of more playing time, he made another huge move to Real Madrid. His quest for more minutes continued as he went to Germany and then back to England. Chicharito has scored everywhere he has played but has always struggled for a starting position and consistent minutes on the field. Despite some of his struggles at club level, he has managed to shine with the national team to the point where he is the all time goalscoring leader. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. He is now 30 years old and struggling to get significant minutes at West Ham United. A move back to Liga MX or the MLS is eminent and probably for the best.
The striker position has always been a problem for Mexico. But despite the problems, Mexico has managed to have very good forwards like Jared Borgetti, Chicharito, Hugo Sanchez, etc. Currently, the most complete and established forward Mexico has is Raúl Jiménez. He can score, create space, and hold up play. The downside is that at 27 years old he is in his prime and might start to decline by the time 2022 roles around. As far as future prospects go, there is not much. Ángel Zaldívar is only 24 and has shown flashes of brilliance at Chivas but has not been consistent enough yet. The U-20 forwards do not get very much playing time in first division, and with so many cheap foreign players available, they rarely get a second look.
It is never easy saying goodbye to players that we have seen for about a decade, especially those that have given the fans so much joy. Unfortunately, time and the aging process catches up to everyone. Whoever the new head coach of El Tri is, he will have to be ruthless when making the necessary cuts and also tough enough to handle the criticism that he will undoubtedly face.
Let me know if you agree or disagree with me, in the comments below.