With the linking of United States Men’s National Team prodigies Segiño Dest to Barcelona and the signing of Weston McKennie to Juventus, we examine why the United States is set to take overtake Mexico on the world stage and what Liga MX can do to combat this attack on the CONCACAF crown.
The United States for the previous ten years has successfully exported talent to Europe through many avenues. All of this has been done while still growing the MLS and not sacrificing the level of play. A disclaimer here, the difference between the MLS and Liga MX in this instance is that Liga MX holds onto to young talent to remain competitive while the MLS finds it easy to export talent since they have essentially become a retirement plan for the stars in Europe who can no longer maintain that level of play. A prime example of this is the transfer of Reggie Cannon to Boavista. A young player who was linked to several Premier League clubs in his rise through the FC Dallas farm system.
Nonetheless the teams in MLS understand the importance of exporting young talent to Europe for the sake of the national team. They do not over inflate the value of their own American player just because he has been starter for the past two years and is 21. This is why Cannon is now in Portugal developing and looking at a jump at one of the top leagues in Europe in about two to three years. This divide in thinking between Liga MX and MLS is evident every transfer market.
Now that we’ve laid out the thinking of MLS teams, lets examine the thinking behind Liga MX teams. First of all, Liga MX teams are currently in a battle to retain their young Mexican talent with the rule of international players on teams diminishing in the upcoming years. Now we get to the main problem which has plagued young Mexican players and Liga MX as a whole. On the players side, you get paid much better to stay in Mexico and jump around teams then going to Europe to fight for a place.
This is why the example of Andres Guardado is one to highlight since he found easily be playing in the MLS or Liga MX right now but understands that to maintain that competitive edge he must remain in La Liga.
Hugo Sanchez has highlighted this problem by saying on multiple occasions that he was paid better at Atlante than the years he spent at Real Madrid. Another point to consider is complacency amongst players. There are players, who we all know who they are, that should be in Europe yet decide to stay in Mexico because its “easier”.
On the teams side we have to take into consideration two factors. First is the aforementioned rule of the amount of International players allowed on the match day squad diminishing year to year. The second circumstance, and arguably the most important and egregious one, is how Liga MX teams overvalue young Mexican talent essentially deeming it financially irresponsible to purchase a Mexican player.
This overvaluation brought upon by teams is due to the above mentioned rule and how the majority of farm systems in Mexico just aren’t producing players that are getting top flight minutes. Alongside this you factor in when the international rule went up and these youngsters were never going to get to experience a Liga MX match.
These problems are compounded by the cancellation of the Copa MX where we would see managers experiment with young players. Many top executives in Europe have noted how instead of buying one good young Mexican prospect you can buy two or three Brazilians, Argentineans, Colombians, etc. for the same price of that one young player. This is why I applaud Santos for selling Gerardo Arteaga to Genk even though Arteaga was an integral part to Santos function as a team. This should be the mentality of every Liga MX team.
Develop my players to play first team minutes at a young age, have him play at this level for three to four years, and then ship them to Europe. This is how you create a dominant and talented national team.
How many young Mexican players who are currently playing in Liga MX should be in Europe? Easily we can think of JJ Macias, Carlos Rodriguez, Jorge Sanchez, Fernando Beltran, Cesar Montes, and Alan Mozo to name a few. But, then again we get to root of the problem, Mexican teams will not sell these players and if they do some team in Europe will have to drop the bag. Every time this happens Mexico falls a little behind the United States and its only a matter of time before we realize that we are not the best team in CONCACAF.