Porto has just signed Mexico's best defender. No, I have not forgotten about Hector Moreno or Francisco Rodriguez. No, I did not mean to write "prospect." Diego Reyes is Mexico's best defender, a carbon copy of Rafael Marquez in his younger days: extremely intelligent on the ball, with superior instincts and the tactical flexibility that will allow him to freely switch positions when his team needs him to.
At just 20 years old, the still-current Club América defender has been a godsend for Luis Fernando Tena and Jose Manuel de la Torre, Mexico's men in charge at the U-23 and senior levels. European teams have had, so far, a 100% success rate when signing Mexican defenders, and there is nothing in the world to suggest that the trend will not continue with Reyes at Porto.
If anything, the move to Portugal will accelerate other European clubs in their pursuit of top Mexican talent, a trend that has teams like Chivas, Pachuca, América and Tigres rubbing their hands in anticipation of growing transfer fees. As I wrote about a month ago, the Liga MX will need to restock its top shelves of talent pretty soon, as several clubs have gold medal talent on their radars for the upcoming transfer market.
Next on the docket: Jorge Enriquez, Hugo Ayala, Hector Herrera and maybe Marco Fabian. Save for the Chivas attacking midfielder, the trend is pretty clear. Enriquez, Ayala and Herrera are all players that cater to defensive needs. With Argentine and Brazilian players usually coming at a steeper price, Mexico is slowly becoming Europe's thrift store for big defensive talent. That is also sure to change soon.
Reyes' transfer is rumored to have been for more than 10 million dollars. Manchester United paid little more than that for Chicharito two years ago. With Hernandez now being valued at close to 25 million dollars, guys like Herrera and Monterrey center back Hiram Mier could very well fetch eight digits on the open market with Diego's precedent now set in stone as teams look to capitalize on a re-sell years down the road.
The effect on the nascent Liga MX will be mostly positive, as teams will develop a cyclical nature commonly seen in Argentina and Brazil. Increasing demand for talent will drain the league's top talent, meaning teams will have to work harder to develop young players to take the spots of departing stars, and so on. Transfers are getting younger, too.
Whereas a decade ago Cuauhtémoc Blanco and Francisco Palencia looked to ply their trade in Europe in their late 20's, Hernandez left Chivas at 22, Héctor Moreno left Pumas at 19, and Reyes is now Portugal-bound at 20. Mexican football has finally understood that keeping their top young talent is worse business in the long run than seeing them off to Europe and reaping amounts of cash that can feed their academies and first team for longer.
Following confirmation of the news, an excited Diego Reyes tweeted: "An important dream of mine is coming true, but I'm focused first on the Clausura 2013 with América, with whom I have another dream [to win the league championship]." For Club América and Liga MX fans alike, dreams are seemingly coming true left and right nowadays.
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