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Ranking all the Mexicans in Europe this decade

The 2010s saw the most Mexican players ever head to Europe’s top five leagues. Here’s all of them ranked.

Designed by Antonio Tinajero

One of the pinnacles of every young Mexican footballer’s career is to play at the highest level of professional soccer: to play in Europe. There’s a certain romanticism when we talk about Europe and soccer. It’s where you want to be. It’s where you want your favorite players to be, and for Mexico national team fans everywhere, it’s a dream to one day have a majority of national team players playing in some of the biggest and most-famous European teams and cities in the world.

El Tri achieved that during the last World Cup cycle when 12 players out of their 23-man roster were signed overseas. Throughout the decade, a total of 32 players have made the trip to the “Old Continent”. Some have fared well, others not so much. It’s time to rank them all.

In addition to stats, I’ll be ranking the players based on longevity, impact on their clubs, titles lifted and individual awards won.

Disclaimer: I’m ranking mostly high-profile Mexican players who played in Europe’s top-five leagues (plus Portugal and Holland). Sorry, no players who only played in Belgium, Greece or any other lower European league. This is taking into account ONLY the years 2010-2019. Anything before 2010 will not be considered as well as no national team accomplishments/performances.

32. Edson Rivera

Mexico v France: FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 - 3rd Place Playoff Photo by Jasper Juinen - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Clubs: SC Braga

Seasons in Europe: 1 and 1/2

Appearances: 2

Goals: 0

Honors: 0

The 28-year-old attacking midfielder currently contracted to boyhood club Atlas played a total of 72 minutes for Braga’s first team in 2012 after impressing at the 2011 U-20 World Cup. 72 minutes. Pretty self-explanatory for last place, honestly.

31. Ricardo Osorio

VfB Stuttgart v Hamburger SV - T-Home Cup Final Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images

Clubs: VfB Stuttgart

Seasons in Europe: 1/2

Appearances: 4

Goals: 0

Honors: None

Now, it’s time to discuss some stragglers that ended their European careers within the first six months of 2010. Ricardo Osorio was a great right-back for Stuttgart and El Tri in the 2000’s, but his playing time in Germany was nearly nonexistent this decade. The former Cruz Azul man ended his career in 2016 with Monterrey.

30. Guillermo Franco

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - West Ham United v Burnley - Upton Park Photo by Daniel Hambury/PA Images via Getty Images

Clubs: West Ham United

Seasons in Europe: 1/2

Appearances: 10

Goals: 2

Honors: None

The only foreign-born Mexican international on this list, Guille Franco also spent just half of 2010 in Europe with West Ham. Six more appearances and two more goals than Osorio keep him above the defender on the rankings.

29. Nery Castillo

Rayo Vallecano de Madrid v Real Valladolid CF - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Clubs: Aris, Rayo Vallecano

Seasons in Europe: 1 (+2 in Greece)

Appearances: 15 (+32 in Greece)

Goals: 2 (+9 in Greece)

Honors: None

The 2007 Copa America introduced the Mexican public to a young unibrow-clad forward of Uruguayan descent that was meant to be the next big striker for El Tri. He was an important player at Greek giants Olympiacos in the previous decade, but his luck ran out in the 2010s. Two seasons in Greece went alright, but a return to Mexico with Pachuca and Leon did nothing for his career. He ended his playing days in La Liga with Rayo Vallecano as a shell of his former self.

28. Pablo Barrera

West Ham’s Mexican midfielder Pablo Barr Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images

Clubs: West Ham United, Real Zaragoza

Seasons in Europe: 2

Appearances: 43

Goals: 1

Honors: None

Hopes were high for Pablito Barrera after making a splash at the 2010 World Cup. West Ham came to swoop up the Pumas prospect but the Premier League would prove much too challenging for the young winger. Javier Aguirre tried giving Barrera another chance at Real Zaragoza, but not even that could save him from a disappointing European career. Barrera has very much found his ceiling back in Liga MX with Cruz Azul, Monterrey and Pumas.

27. Efrain Juarez

Zaragoza’s Mexican defender Efrain Juare Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Clubs: Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Valerenga

Seasons in Europe: 1 (+2 in Scotland, Norway)

Appearances: 16 (+39 in Scotland, Norway)

Goals: 1 (+2 in Scotland)

Honors: 1 Scottish Premier League, 1 Scottish Cup

Besides the last few years, not much separates Juarez and Barrera’s careers throughout this decade. Both were expected to do big things in the “Old Continent” but never quite nailed their place down at any club. Juarez did win titles in Scotland, but ultimately played little to no role in Celtic winning them. He’s now winding down the final years of his playing career back in Europe with Norwegian club Valerenga.

26. Ulises Davila

Chelsea New Signing - Ulises Davila Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Clubs: Chelsea, Vitesse, Sabadell, Cordoba, Tenerife, Vitoria Setubal

Seasons in Europe: 5

Appearances: 107

Goals: 13

Honors: None

When dusk fell on the 2011 U-20 World Cup, Ulises Davila signed with a true giant in world football: Chelsea. In the blue corner of London, Davila received the same treatment that copious amounts of academy prospects have and was loaned out time and time again. His best moments came in the Spanish second division (not eligible), including an emotional last-gasp goal for Cordoba which sealed the club’s promotion to La Liga for the first time in 42 years. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t replicate the same success in the top divisions of the Netherlands or Portugal. He’s killing it so far in Australia, though.

25. Uriel Antuna

Dutch Eredivisie”FC Groningen v Willem II”

Clubs: Manchester City, FC Groningen

Seasons in Europe: 2

Appearances: 22

Goals: 0

Honors: None

Excitement is high around Antuna currently as a member of the new crop of Chivas players in 2020, but his time in Europe was nothing to gawk at. Manchester City loaned the winger to Eredivisie club FC Groningen, where 22 goal-less appearances urged the 22-year-old to return to North America to get his career back on track with LA Galaxy and now Guadalajara.

24. Diego Lainez

FBL-EUR-C3-RENNES-BETIS Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images

Clubs: Real Betis

Seasons in Europe: 2

Appearances: 26 and counting

Goals: 2 and counting

Honors: None

It feels wrong to rank such a naturally gifted player like Lainez so low, but I can’t justify his placement higher than No. 24. Twenty six appearances, only six starts, and only two goals for a goal-scoring, playmaking winger is pretty weak, but what keeps him above Davila and Antuna are the small moments of brilliance and promise he has shown at Betis. He’s still only 19, after all. The next decade could be his for the taking.

23. Javier Aquino

Rayo Vallecano de Madrid v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Clubs: Villarreal, Rayo Vallecano

Seasons in Europe: 3

Appearances: 72

Goals: 2

Honors: None

Aquino unfortunately followed in the footsteps of Barrera and Juarez and had a disappointing spell in Spain with Villarreal and Rayo Vallecano. He did have some good performances and started 31 times for both clubs, which is more than can be said about other Mexican players.

22. Carlos Salcido

Fulham v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Clubs: Fulham

Seasons in Europe: 1

Appearances: 29

Goals: 0

Honors: None

Newly-retired Carlos Salcido spent just one season in Europe this decade, but regardless, the former PSV defender had a pretty good tenure at Fulham. He started all but one of his games for The Cottagers until an Angel di Maria-esque robbery incident forced Salcido’s family out of London and the Mexican international would move to Tigres in 2011, never leaving Mexico after that.

21. Antonio Briseño

GD Estoril Praia v CD Feirense - Portuguese League Cup Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Clubs: Feirense

Seasons in Europe: 2

Appearances: 58

Goals: 5

Honors: None

The curious case of Pollo Briseño. Possibly the most successful player from the World Cup-winning 2011 U-17 Mexican side, the defender was forgotten in Mexico but found the limelight in Portugal with Feirense. His two decent seasons couldn’t avoid the club’s relegation in 2019, but it did land the 25-year-old a job at Chivas and a decent chance of getting his senior squad Mexico debut in the future.

20. Rafael Marquez

Juventus FC v Hellas Verona FC - Serie A Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Clubs: FC Barcelona, Hellas Verona

Seasons in Europe: 2

Appearances: 51

Goals: 1

Honors: 1 La Liga

The start of the decade saw El Kaiser bring his memorable Barcelona career to an end with one final Spanish league title, bringing his trophy count in Spain to eight. Spells in MLS and Liga MX later, and the Mexican icon found himself back in Europe with Serie A club Hellas Verona at the ripe, old age of 35. As you would expect, the veteran didn’t revolutionize anything in Italy, but he did start in every game he would appear in, and that deserves merit. No doubt about it, Marquez would be No. 1 on this list for the 2000s, but he just makes the top 20 for the 2010s.

19. Edson Alvarez

Ajax v Lille - UEFA Champions League Photo by Soccrates/Getty Images

Clubs: AFC Ajax

Seasons in Europe: Less than 1

Appearances: 17 and counting

Goals: 2 and counting

Honors: None

These rankings are a bit unfair to these next two players. Edson Alvarez is on his way up the ladder in international soccer, but as of right now, he simply doesn’t have enough material at Ajax to place him any higher on this list. Middle of the pack for now, but make no mistake, he should be shooting up this list as the years go on.

18. Erick Gutierrez

PEC Zwolle v PSV - Dutch Eredivisie Photo by Photo Prestige/Soccrates/Getty Images

Clubs: PSV Eindhoven

Seasons in Europe: 2

Appearances: 45 and counting

Goals: 5 and counting

Honors: None

The same reasoning that applied to Alvarez applies to Guti here as well. He’s only above Machin here because he has an extra season with PSV under his belt. At times, it’s been difficult for Gutierrez to break into PSV’s starting XI, but when he’s there, he’s almost always one of the most impactful men on the pitch. Here’s to hoping that caretaker manager Ernest Fauber and the next full-time PSV boss will bring out the best in the former Pachuca starlet.

17. Marco Fabian

Bayern Muenchen v Eintracht Frankfurt - DFB Cup Final Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images

Clubs: Eintracht Frankfurt

Seasons in Europe: 3

Appearances: 53

Goals: 8

Honors: 1 DFB Pokal

Three seasons in Germany for Fabian. One average one, one really good one and one that was hampered by a vertebrae injury. If it wasn’t for such an unfortunate circumstance, Fabian might have salvaged a few more seasons in Europe and might still be there to this day. But as fate would have it, he was frozen out of Eintracht after recovering and had to settle for a move to the Philadelphia Union after his Fenerbahçe move fell through in 2018.

16. Nestor Araujo

FC Barcelona v RC Celta de Vigo - La Liga Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs: Celta de Vigo

Seasons in Europe: 2

Appearances: 50 and counting

Goals: 4 and counting

Honors: None

Araujo sort of follows the same principle as Gutierrez and Alvarez, however, he’s higher on this list simply because he has been able to maintain a starting role throughout his two seasons with Celta. Lately, he seems to be performing much better at the club level than with El Tri, but the former Santos Laguna center back will have to hope his good form rubs off on the rest of his teammates this season as they battle relegation.

15. Francisco Maza Rodriguez

Borussia Moenchengladbach v VfB Stuttgart - Bundesliga Photo by Juergen Schwarz/Bongarts/Getty Images

Clubs: PSV Eindhoven, VfB Stuttgart

Seasons in Europe: 3

Appearances: 101

Goals: 4

Honors: None

No one ever really talks about how well it went for Maza Rodriguez in Europe. He wasn’t an icon like Marquez or a top defender like Hector Moreno, but he carved out a nice little spot in the histories of PSV and Stuttgart. Rodriguez spent most of his European time in Germany this decade and helped Die Roten to a Europa League berth and a DFB Pokal final in 2013, which they narrowly lost to Bayern Munich 3-2.

14. Jonathan dos Santos

Elche FC v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Clubs: FC Barcelona, Villarreal

Seasons in Europe: 7

Appearances: 150

Goals: 7

Honors: 1 UEFA Champions League, 3 La Ligas, 1 Copa del Rey, 3 Spanish Supercups, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 FIFA Club World Cup

The beginning of the decade was full of titles and not enough playing time for the second-generation soccer star, but in 2014, dos Santos’ move to Villarreal allowed him to finally break free from his brother’s shadow and make a name for himself in his three seasons with El Submarino Amarillo. He’s now one of the top midfielders in MLS with LA Galaxy.

13. Diego Reyes

Real Madrid CF v RCD Espanyol - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Clubs: FC Porto, RCD Espanyol, Real Sociedad, CD Leganes, Fenerbahçe

Seasons in Europe: 6 (+1/2 in Turkey)

Appearances: 114 (+14 in Turkey)

Goals: 6 (+1 in Turkey)

Honors: 1 Primeira Liga, 1 Portuguese Supercup

Reyes had all the potential in the world to become a top 10 inclusion on this list, but in reality, he only had two good seasons out of his six-and-a-half in Europe. He never got a permanent move when he went on loan to Espanyol and Real Sociedad, which is a shame, because he could never break through at Porto. A great young center back who never quite reached his ceiling.

12. Carlos Salcedo

Bayern Muenchen v Eintracht Frankfurt - DFB Cup Final Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images

Clubs: Fiorentina, Eintracht Frankfurt

Seasons in Europe: 3

Appearances: 52

Goals: 0

Honors: 1 DFB Pokal

Similar to Reyes, Salcedo, who is still only 25, had everything to be a top Mexican player in Europe. When he’s on, he’s one of the most talented defenders in the Mexican player pool, but he lacked consistency with both Fiorentina and Frankfurt. He definitely has the natural ability to still be playing in Europe, but his blunders and bad games at Tigres now suggest he lacks some focus.

11. Giovani dos Santos

Giovani Dos Santos New Villarreal Signing Press Conference Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Clubs: Tottenham Hotspur, Galatasaray, Racing Santander, RCD Mallorca, Villarreal

Seasons in Europe: 5 (+1/2 in Turkey)

Appearances: 140 (+18 in Turkey)

Goals: 31

Honors: None

The start of the decade wasn’t kind to Giovani at the club level, and it seems the attacking midfielder and false nine is now past his prime at Club America, but near the middle of the decade he found his sweet spot in Spain. He finally became a key player for Racing Santander, Mallorca and Villarreal, scoring 29 of his 31 European goals at those three clubs. His 2015 move to LA Galaxy cut his old world journey short, but his four seasons in Spain were enough to just miss this top 10.

10. Miguel Layun

FBL-EUR-C1-MACCABI TEL AVIV-FC PORTO Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Clubs: Watford, FC Porto, Sevilla, Villarreal

Seasons in Europe: 5

Appearances: 133

Goals: 14

Honors: 1 Primeira Liga, Primeira Liga season assist leader (‘16)

To begin the top 10, we have the only Mexican to lead a domestic league in any statistical category this decade. Miguel Layun led the Portuguese league in assists in 2016 to begin a fantastic Porto career that continued a short-lived but well-played spell at Watford. A coaching change at Porto saw Layun frozen out of the squad and make a move to Spain where not much happened. Still, his two great seasons at Porto are enough for this placement.

9. Hector Moreno

Dutch Eredivisie”PSV v Roda JC”

Clubs: AZ Alkmaar, RCD Espanyol, PSV Eindhoven, AS Roma, Real Sociedad

Seasons in Europe: 9

Appearances: 308

Goals: 26

Honors: 1 Eredivisie, 1 Johan Cruyff Shield

The highest scoring Mexican defender in the 2010s, Hector Moreno’s decade saw him become a mainstay at all of his clubs (except one) and the Mexican national team. He became a modern icon at PSV and his spells at Espanyol and Real Sociedad were respectable. The only blemish on his record was his 2018 move to Roma, where he didn’t manage to nail down a starting spot and was out the door in six months. Besides that, 300+ appearances say all you need to know about Moreno’s success abroad.

8. Jesus Corona

FC Porto v Desportivo das Aves - Portuguese Super Cup Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Clubs: FC Twente, FC Porto

Seasons in Europe: 7

Appearances: 244 and counting

Goals: 36 and counting

Honors: 1 Primeira Liga, 1 Portuguese Supercup, Eredivisie Team of the Season (‘15)

At just 26 years old, Jesus Corona has already done more in Europe than most. Along with Layún and Hector Herrera, he’s had a fruitful spell with FC Porto filled with a league title, Champions League football and enough playing time to be involved in 52 goals over his five seasons with the Dragons. Before Portugal, Corona established himself as a reliable force at FC Twente with a Team of the Season inclusion in 2015. The winger is still transforming his game, transitioning into a right back this season with Porto and continuing to impress.

7. Guillermo Ochoa

Villarreal CF v Granada CF - La Liga Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs: AC Ajaccio, Malaga, CF Granada, Standard Liege

Seasons in Europe: 6 (+2 in Belgium)

Appearances: 174 (+86 in Belgium)

Honors: 1 Belgian Cup, AC Ajaccio Player of the Year (‘12), IFFHS Best Mexican Goalkeeper of the 21st Century (‘13), CF Granada Player of the Year (‘14), Standard Liege Player of the Season (‘19)

Ochoa has been cursed with representing teams battling relegation, a team that glued him to the bench and a team in a weaker European league. Despite his incredible performances in the two latest World Cups, Ochoa never did get his deserved move to a European giant. With that being said, what he did do was connect with fan bases at every team he’s been in. He’s been named Player of the Season in every European team he’s been the No. 1 option for and earned the respect of supporters in three different countries. A fan in France went as far as putting his own home up for sale to raise money in the hopes that Ochoa would stay at Ajaccio. Now that’s love.

6. Hirving Lozano

PSV trophy celebration Photo by Edwin van Zandvoort/Soccrates/Getty Images

Clubs: PSV Eindhoven, Napoli

Seasons in Europe: 3

Appearances: 97 and counting

Goals: 43 and counting

Honors: 1 Eredivisie, Eredivisie Player of the Month (Aug. ‘17)

No other Mexican has a better goals-to-games ratio than Chucky. His time at PSV was worthy of history books and highlight videos. An Eredivisie title was all he could win, but the young Mexican winger will stay in the memories of Rood-witten fans for years to come. He’s starting out slow at Napoli after becoming the Italian team’s most expensive signing ever, but hey, it even took Napoli record goalscorer Dries Mertens a few years to replicate the 20-goal seasons the Belgian had at PSV. There’s still plenty of time for the 24-year-old to make a name for himself at a second European club and place his name in the upper echelon of international soccer.

5. Hector Herrera

FC Porto v Desportivo das Aves - Portuguese Super Cup Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Clubs: FC Porto, Atletico Madrid

Seasons in Europe: 7

Appearances: 256 and counting

Goals: 36 and counting

Honors: 1 Primeira Liga, 2 Portuguese Supercups, FC Porto Player of the Year (‘15)

This decade, Mexico fans saw Herrera transition from Pachuca’s most talented player to an FC Porto captain to signing for a world power in Atlético Madrid. The Dragons wouldn’t have a 28th league title if it wasn’t for the 2015 Porto Player of the Season. His exceptional strike against Benfica in 2018 extended Porto’s lead over their arch-rivals just enough for Porto to be crowned league champions just a few weeks later. That goal cemented his status as a modern club legend, taking his place on Tifos and in the hearts of FC Porto fans everywhere.

4. Carlos Vela

Real Sociedad v Sevilla - La Liga Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Clubs: Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion, Real Sociedad

Seasons in Europe: 8

Appearances: 279

Goals: 79

Honors: 2x Real Sociedad Player of the Year, 2x La Liga Player of the Month (Dec. ‘13, Nov. ‘14)

Un saludito a Carlitos Vela, güey! The current MLS Most Valuable Player is only a few years removed from being in the same conversation of great La Liga goal scorers as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa and Karm Benzema when he found the back of the net 16 times in 2013-14. At Real Sociedad, Vela went from an efficient forward to an assist-first winger capable of playing both wings. It was his stardom and development in San Sebastian that made his American league dominance possible. For all the drama that surrounded Vela and the national team this season, his club status was never questioned and he still has the talent nowadays to have rumors linking him to clubs like Barcelona and not be completely baseless.

3. Raul Jimenez


Clubs: Atletico Madrid, Benfica, Wolverhampton

Seasons in Europe: 6

Appearances: 221 and counting

Goals: 66 and counting

Honors: 2 Primeira Ligas, 1 Taça de Portugal, 1 Taça da Liga, 2 Portuguese Supercups, 1 Spanish Supercup, Taça da Liga top goalscorer (‘16), Premier League Player of the Month (Nov. ‘19)

When English fans make a chant about you, you know it’s real. From an Atletico Madrid reject to a Benfica super sub to a Premier League star, what a rise it’s been for Raul Jimenez! The former Club America striker had the best 2019 of any Mexican player and established himself as a household name in Wolverhampton in the most competitive league in the world. His involvement in 43 goals in England and his incredible partnerships with Adama Traoré, Diogo Jota, Rúben Neves and João Moutinho have made him a must-see fixture and a threat to any top English giant. The 28-year-old is heading into the prime of his career and will be Mexico’s main option at striker for the next decade. He’s just getting started.

2. Andres Guardado

Dutch Eredivisie”PSV v Roda JC”

Clubs: Deportivo La Coruña, Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen, PSV Eindhoven, Real Betis

Seasons in Europe: 10

Appearances: 331 and counting

Goals: 24 and counting

Honors: 2 Eredivisies, 2 Johan Cruyff Shields, 1 Segunda Division de Espana, Deportivo La Coruña Fans’ Player of the Season (‘12), Liga Adelante offensive midfielder of the Year (‘12), Eredivisie Player of the Month (Nov. ‘14), AD & VI Eredivisie Player of the Season (‘15) Eredivisie Team of the Season (‘15, ‘16)

He might be No. 2 on this list, but no other Mexican player has more significant individual accomplishments than Andres Guardado. He’s the only Mexican to be recognized by entire leagues as their best midfielder or player in general. It was a beautiful sight to see PSV fans honor Guardado with a Mexican flag tifo during a 2015 league game, pleading the midfielder to stay with the club. Even at 33 years old, Guardado continues to start week in and week out for Real Betis and shows little signs of slowing down yet. When the sun set on Rafael Marquez’s international career, Mexico couldn’t have been blessed with a better captain to lead El Tri.

1. Javier Chicharito Hernandez

Manchester United Premier League Winners Parade Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Clubs: Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, West Ham United, Sevilla

Seasons in Europe: 10

Appearances: 348 and counting

Goals: 128 and counting

Honors: 2 Premier Leagues, 3 FA Community Shields, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, Sir Matt Busby Player of the Season (‘11), 2x Bundesliga Player of the Month (Nov. ‘15, Dec. ‘15)

It couldn’t have been anybody else. What hasn’t Chicharito done this decade? Liga MX and Mexico national team accolades aside, Hernandez became a cult hero in Manchester, scoring with every body part imaginable. He became the real-life embodiment of Goal! protagonist Santiago Muñez with his move to Real Madrid, scoring important goals and creating partnerships with the world’s finest along the way. He became an all-star in Germany and earned mentions in the same breath as Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Müller. Make no mistake, whether we take into consideration national team success or not, the 2010s was the decade of Chicharito. The most games, the most goals, the most recognizable face in Europe from Mexico, Hernandez became the country’s golden boy and the face of a generation. And if words won’t do it for you, here are some visuals to show you how much he deserves the No. 1 spot.

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