Putting an end to multiple rumors and weeks of speculation, Pachuca announced the signing of former Barcelona forward Jenni Hermoso. One of the best players in the world is coming to play in Liga MX Femenil. It’s not hyperbole to say that this is a bit of a watershed moment for a league that’s been in existence for about only one-third of Hermoso’s storied pro career. It’s a real sign of how much the game has grown in the country and perhaps a bit of a wake up call for seventeen other clubs.
Hermoso’s résumé is impeccable: seven Primera División championships in Spain, a UEFA Women’s Champions League title with Barcelona in 2020-21, and appearances in two World Cups with Spain. From 2015-16 through 2020-21, Hermoso was the leading scorer in five of the six seasons between 2015-16 and 2020-21, not winning the Golden Boot in 2017-18 when she was with Paris Saint-Germain. Pachuca was perhaps a surprise Finalist in the 2022 Clausura, but make no mistake: they should be considered a frontrunner in the 2022 Apertura.
This should give pause to every other club in Mexico and force them to think how they’ll counter Hermoso not only in terms of defensive schemes but as well as in sheer star power. Some teams will naturally try and counter by bringing in a big name, big money player from abroad, and that sort of arms race is an exciting development for a league that up until very recently allowed no non-Mexicans to play.
For those other teams that aren’t going to spend big on players, it’s an opportunity for them to define what their strategy is for their team. Are they going to be a team that scouts international pro competitions looking for undervalued talent or players who may be nearing the end of their contract? Or are they going to scout heavily in the college system in the United States? Or are they going to invest heavily in their local youth clubs and academies to develop players from within?
There are multiple paths forward, including a hybrid of some or all of these that clubs can use to build their culture. Not everyone can spend like Tigres, Rayadas, or Pachuca. But even the less well off clubs can spend to improve their infrastructure and draw a line in the sand to say “this is who we are as a club.” The tricky part will be not abandoning that strategy, especially those whose benefits may not be seen immediately or even within the first couple of seasons.
This will also hopefully force clubs to raise the standards of things for their women’s teams like training facilities, playing facilities, travel accommodations, coaching, and even refereeing. Because of Hermoso’s profile, Liga MX Femenil will now be in front of many more fans and journalists around the world. She is one of the better known players on the planet, with over 562,000 followers on Instagram and over 84,600 followers on Twitter. Hermoso could have played at a different team in Spain, or gone to France or another European league. She could have gone to the NWSL or the Australian W-League. She could have chosen any team on the planet, and she chose Pachuca. A lot of people will be watching her every move in México, and every club should look to rise to the challenge of increased scrutiny. The world is truly watching.