Last month’s transfer deadline day was dominated in Mexico by Ajax man Edson Alvarez trying to force his way to Premier League.
Whilst Alvarez ultimately failed in his desire to push a move through, there were a few Mexican footballers on the move this summer.
With all of them having taken positive steps in their career – be it exposure to more minutes or to a higher level – you wonder whether it could boost Mexico’s World Cup odds – that few months of improved surroundings and/or extra game time could be crucial in tight games should any of this trio make the Qatar 2022 squad.
Jorge Sanchez, America to Ajax, £4.5m
The first player we want to look at here is Jorge Sanchez, a versatile fullback, who has swapped America in Liga MX for the Eredivisie giants Ajax. That’s a huge move for the 24-year-old full-back with the Dutch side guaranteed to be competing for domestic honors whilst he’ll also get a taste of elite European competition.
So, on the surface of things, joining Ajax is a very good move for Sanchez but what can the club and their fans expect to see of the player? As you might predict with an Ajax signing, Sanchez oozes calm in possession of the football as well as boasting strong technique. That said, the former Santos Laguna man is not your stereotypical modern-day fullback.
In the Ajax system, it will also be interesting to see if Sanchez improves on his numbers in the final third. We’ve touched on his technical capabilities but, as yet, he’s never converted that into high assists numbers despite a willingness to join attacks.
Diego Lainez, Real Betis to Braga, Loan
As we move on to our next Mexican that has moved on during this window it’s worth noting that Diego Lainez, who has swapped Real Betis of La Liga for Liga Bwin side Braga, is a former teammate of Sanchez’s with the pair having played together at America in their homeland. In fact, Lainez operated in front of the aforementioned Sanchez as he spent the majority of his time on the right flank.
From a pure numbers angle, Lainez didn’t exactly stand out in Mexico with just five goals and three assists from 51 appearances but his all-round game clearly caught the eye. In January 2019 Real Betis shelled out £12.6m to bring the 19-year-old to Spain. Since then Lainez has made a total of 72 appearances for the club but without pulling up any trees.
A move to Portugal should suit the winger nicely though and, even though it’s early days, he is settling in nicely. He has only played three matches for Braga but already has both a goal and assist to his name.
As a player, Lainez has the ability to go on either foot and that together with his ability to turn the burners on means he’ll likely be a huge hit in Portugal.
Santiago Gimenez, Cruz Azul to Feyenoord, £3.6m
We end our Mexican transfer round-up with Santiago Gimenez; he’s a player that is making his first move into European football having swapped Cruz Azul for last season’s Europa Conference League finalists Feyenoord in a deal worth approaching £4m. Already the young striker is proving a hit having bagged a goal and an assist in their 4-0 demolition of FC Emmen – he was only on the pitch for 27 minutes!
That level of goal contribution is a continuation of Gimenez’s start to this season as well. At 21 years old, it is perhaps expected that his track record of hitting the net isn’t that strong over the last few years but this looks like being a breakout year for him. Prior to his move from Cruz Azul, Gimenez had made five Liga MX Apertura appearances scoring five goals with a strike rate of a goal every 82 minutes.
You can expect to see Gimenez coming deep before looking to spin his man and run in behind; the fact he has the ability to work defenders in both directions makes him a tough man to pick up and, in front of goal, he has a thunderous left foot.