Mexicans in Italy, for the challenge of consolidating

The relation between mexican footballers and the italian league He is barely 11 years old and the record has not been favorable with a few exceptions. In total, six national players have played in Serie A since 2009 and none have been able to start more than two seasons or win more than one title.

Johan Vásquez is the newest on the list. The defender was officially transferred from Cougars a Genoa for a one-year loan (2021-22 season) and fees estimated at 500,000 euros. At 22, he will play for the first time in Europe after winning the bronze medal with the Olympic Trio in Tokyo 2020in addition to having been champion of Liga MX and Concachampions with Monterrey in 2019.

But his enriching career is not a guarantee of stability in Italy. carlos salcedo in 2016 and Hector Moreno in 2017, they also migrated to Serie A with significant displays, but only played 26 games between the two and failed to establish themselves with Fiorentina and Roma, respectively. Salcedo has also just been selected for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and Moreno has been a double champion in the Netherlands.

“When I was 15, when I went to the Pumas, I didn’t know how to defend, but when I arrived in Roma, I realized that I still didn’t know how to defend”, analyzed Moreno after his departure from Roma, who competed. in the Champions League at the time.

The other Mexicans in this league have been Miguel Layun, who only played three games for Atalanta in 2009-10; Rafael Márquez, who arrived at the twilight of his career (35 years old) at Hellas Verona to compete for non-relegation; and Hirving Lozano, the most consistent with 77 games, 20 goals and a cup title against Juventus in 2020, but even he spent his first season in Italy with just 10 starts.

According to figures from Under Data, a consultancy specializing in football player representation and data scouting, Serie A is the top division league with the highest percentage difference to Liga MX, in an analysis with a universe of 24 countries in total.

“Mexico is a market that exports very few players, most of those who have been to Italy have had a short or fleeting stage, which is a sign is that defenses have been exported for the most part. Liga MX is not at all similar to the Italian league, according to our similarity algorithm, the Italian is the least similar to the Mexican, they have a similarity of 22%, very low, the leagues that resemble the most Mexican are 51% Colombian and 43% Uruguayan,” reports Luis Fernández, CEO of Under Data.

Vásquez will compete for the title of centre-back alongside Belgian Zinho Vanheusden, Serbian Ivan Radovanovic, Dutchman Laurens Serpe and Italians Mattia Bani, Davide Biraschi and Andrea Masiello. The Mexican will rank fourth among the team’s most valuable players with six million euros, although another defender, Vanheusdenis the leader with a value of 12 millions.

“What helps Johan a lot is his youth, that he arrives in a league which is one of the best defended historically, and what we have seen of him since his time at Cimarrones is that he adapts and learns, he’s like a sponge player, kept improving and tweaking the tactical and technical aspects”.

In other data from the Under Data analysis, Genoa has 73% defensive duels per game for the Pumas 64%, while in possession the Italian club has 44% and the Mexican 47%. Johan Vásquez’s contribution along with Nicolás Freire and Alfredo Talavera prevented Pumas from scoring 18 goals last season as according to the consultant his expectation was 54 and he only received 36.

Genoa’s best position in the last five years came last season, when they finished 11th in the table, albeit far from the top seven who will compete in continental tournaments in 2021-22. Previously, he oscillated between 12th and 17th place, almost on the verge of relegation. Moreover, last season they conceded the eighth most goals conceded (58), so signing Johan was a clear necessity.

The youngster from Sonora, who was the leader of the clinching robberies in the last Liga MX tournament (Guardians 2021), faces the legacy left by Layún, Márquez, Salcedo and Moreno, the other defenders Mexicans of Italian football.

“Johan arrives in a team that trusts him a lot, the idea is that he starts as soon as possible because it is a loan. Genoa has other players in defense who compete with him, but between him and Vanheusden there are those who will fight for a position, the club’s bet is that it is both and that they achieve a hat-trick with someone more experienced,” Fernández added.

Mexicans in Italy, Marquez was the strongest with 26 Serie A games on his debut in the 2014-15 campaign, as for 2015-16 he only played nine before returning to Mexico to retire with Atlas. Carlos Salcedo follows with 18, Moreno with six and Layún with three.

Only two of them found better opportunities in Europe after their brief stint in Italy: Salcedo, who made the jump to Eintracht Frankfurt, where he even won a German Cup, and Moreno, who became a benchmark for Real Sociedad in Spain.

fredi.figueroa@eleconomista.mx

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