Yes, there were offers from the Premier League over the January transfer window for Morelia’s Ecuadorian winger Jefferson Montero.
Not that it should come as any surprise.
The 24-year-old international has already notched up over 50 appearances in Spain’s La Liga with Villarreal, Levante and Real Betis and has lit up the Liga MX since joining Monarcas in 2012.
“Various offers came in, but they didn’t match the expectations of the club,” stated a forthright Montero recently over the phone to Goal.com USA. “I just want to close out the league and then go with the national team (to the World Cup).”
Montero says he is happy and comfortable with his young family in Mexico and that the North American country has become a “second home” for him and the wave of Ecuadorian stars that have arrived over recent years, first with Walter Ayovi and then Enner Valencia, Fidel Martinez, Joao Rojas, Alex Colon and Jaimen Ayovi all following along.
But while Montero praises the Liga MX – “I’m convinced it is improving all the time” – the elephant in the room is his future and he would like another stint in Europe, ideally in either the Premier League, Bundesliga or Serie A.
“I want to win a title with Monarcas, have a very good World Cup and go to Europe,” he said.
The technically gifted, speedy left-winger, who slips past opponents seemingly at will, has received two boosts recently when it comes to increasing his already burgeoning reputation.
The first was Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia writing in a Twitter question and answer session last November that he would like to see Montero at Old Trafford.
“He’s an intelligent player and he gets better every day,” wrote Valencia, sparking a slew of interest in Montero.
The amiable Montero is almost gushing of his praise of Valencia and you get a sense of what the United player’s achievements have meant to a country that isn’t known as one of South America’s traditional soccer outposts, but which has made giant strides of late.
“Honestly, (it made me) very happy because it is a guy who knows me very well,” explained Montero. “He knows what I am like, who I am and he is a professional I admire a lot; someone I try to follow as a footballer and also as a person.”
The second boost Montero received the other side of the Atlantic was his performance for Ecuador against Australia on March 5 in London.
The diminutive winger came off the bench at halftime with his side 3-0 down and proceeded – along with Martinez – to terrorize the Australian defense in the second 45 and help overturn the deficit to hand Ecuador a 4-3 victory.
A good World Cup will be key for Montero’s ambitions of moving back to Europe and twisting the arms of European clubs to meet Morelia’s asking price and help the player follow in Valencia’s footsteps. Reports in the British press suggest the price tag would be around 4 million pounds, which would represent a bargain for a player already with experience in Europe and hitting his prime.
And Montero is confident that he and Ecuador – in Group E with France, Honduras and Switzerland – can cause a major surprise in Brazil.
“We are very fast,” said Montero. “We have a young team that is gaining experience outside of Ecuador and we are thirsty and hungry to win.”
The goal for Ecuador is to “satisfy the people” and get past the country’s best every World Cup performance of the Round of 16 in Germany 2006.
In that quest, Montero believes that Christian Benitez – La Tri’s striker who tragically died from a heart problem in July 2013 – will be guiding the team and says qualification for the World Cup was dedicated to him.
“I know he is up above giving us strength so that everything goes well,” stated Montero.