In the same week that Edson Alvarez made his much anticipated move from Club America in Liga MX to Europe–more specifically–Ajax in the Netherlands, a former Eredivisie star left the shining shores of European football for Mexico.
Vincent Janssen, formerly of Tottenham Hotspur, was presented with Monterrey on Monday at the Estadio BBVA as the team prepares to face Club Leon this Saturday in the third week of Liga MX play.
The Dutch striker was given the coveted No. 9 shirt number and made the rounds around the stadium in La Sultana del Norte after his sale from Spurs to Rayados was made official by the club on July 23
“In the first contact with the club I wanted to know more about the team. They told me very good things. From the first minute up to today, I am very happy that I made the decision to come. I think it is a great league with many quality teams and very good teammates. It’s a big step that I took and I’m excited to show what I can do.” - Vincent Janssen on Rayados.com
It’s easy to see why there is excitement in this transfer. Janssen comes from an elite European club in Spurs, the UEFA Champions League runners-up. Spurs accomplished that feat without the need of Janssen, however, as he played just three Premier League matches last season and nothing else.
The excitement surrounding this transfer and the significance of it to the Liga MX cannot be boiled down to just Janssen’s talent, though. Make no mistake, the former AZ Alkmaar forward isn’t a forgotten Eredivisie starlet from a decade ago. He’s only three years removed from scoring 27 goals in 34 appearances as the Eredivisie’s top scorer for AZ in 2016. That same year he was awarded the Johan Cruyff trophy as the best Dutch footballer of 2015-16.
Still, despite his low appearances and poor offensive output outside of his home country, this transfer is big because a 25-year-old Dutch striker chose to make the move to a country on a side of the world he’s never visited, to a league many in Europe don’t fully appreciate, instead of a move, say, back to his home nation of Holland.
His former club, AZ Alkmaar, had to settle with having midfielder Guus Til as its top scorer last season with 12 goals. No AZ attacker had more than eight goals in the league last season, so you could say bringing back former golden boy Janssen wouldn’t have been out of the question for Alkmaar.
But he chose Monterrey. The current CONCACAF Champions League champions are due to play the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup in December as well as battle for Liga MX titles as they do year in and year out.
Janssen was attracted by the club’s winning ways, its uber-passionate fan base–which has been regarded as one of the country’s finest–it’s globally-renowned stadium and the fact that Monterrey has been regarded as the Mexican city with the highest quality of life by Mercer (2017).
“I was very interested in the club, they showed me a video with everything about the club and it was very good: a beautiful stadium, a beautiful city, very good fans and everything was really good for me. I was very interested in arriving. I think it’s a high-level club and I liked the idea since we started the talks. I can’t wait to start” - Vincent Janssen
Well-known European players have slowly been choosing Mexico over the past few years. Of course, it started with Andre-Pierre Gignac to Tigres. It continued with Jeremy Menez to Club America. The former quickly became a club icon, winning four league titles and two scoring titles en route to becoming the current joint-top goalscorer in Tigres history. The latter has had a tough spell in Mexico thus far, trifled with injuries and disagreements with coaching staff.
There’s also been a slew of other players who have also graced the pitches of Europe’s elite that have made the permanent move south of the U.S. border. This includes former Ballon d’Or winner and Brazilian icon Ronaldinho, Frenchmen Andy Delort and Timothée Kolodziejczak, former AC Milan midfielders Matias Fernandez and Keisuke Honda, former Inter Milan man Ricky Alvarez, former Malaga striker Roque Santa Cruz, among others.
What makes Janssen stand out from all of these players is his age. Gignac was already 29 years old when he signed with Tigres. Menez was 31. Janssen is still only 25 in what should be the prime of his career.
“..when I got to know the club, when I spoke with the people of the club, it was all very positive. It is a great club, a beautiful stadium, great fans, good players, for me it was an easy decision.”
Even though Janssen and Rayados president Duilio Davino are both against Gignac comparisons, Monterrey fans will hope Janssen’s tenure at the club will mirror that of the former Marseille man. It is difficult to predict the success of a player that has never been to this side of the hemisphere, but Monterrey need him to react fairly quickly.
It will take a few weeks for Janssen to settle at his new club, and longer for him to become a key man in the starting XI, but Monterrey have already begun the season on the wrong foot. Two losses in two matches and a game this weekend against the current runners-up won’t help Monterrey alleviate any worries they might already have. It’s time for Janssen to introduce himself to the Liga MX and remind the world what he’s made of.
Check out Janssen’s full English interview with FOX’s La Ultima Palabra below:
Here’s Vincent Janssen’s interview with Fox Sports LUP pic.twitter.com/moMRhsL9HC— Rayados90 (@rayadosninety) July 30, 2019
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