domingo, 22 de octubre de 2017

The problem Liga MX has with young Mexicans

Following the disastrous U-17 World Cup in India for a Mexican side unable to win one single of its four matches, fans and pundits alike began fearing for Diego Lainez's future. Should the Club America bright prospect head as soon as possible to Europe to raise his game?

The idea which underlies that question is whether Liga MX can currently help develop young Mexican players and increase the pool of talent for the national team.

So far, the Apertura 2017 is demonstrating that no club can afford to line-up more than one or two players younger than 20 years old. Even coaches as different as the experienced José Manuel 'Chepo' de la Torre and the rookie Jaime 'Jimmy' Lozano struggled getting results while handing opportunities.

'Chepo' did lose his job. And 'Jimmy' could be the next one to get the sack.

With De la Torre on the bench, Santos Laguna would have up to four youngsters in their starting eleven: Gerardo Arteaga and Jorge Sánchez (both full-backs), Gael Sandoval (a fine midfielder) and Ulises Rivas (a quite interesting deep-lying playmaker).

Having managed Gallos Blancos' U-20 side, Lozano was promoted after Víctor Manuel Vucetich's dismissal last season. The youngest of all Liga MX coaches immediately promoted in his turn the likes of Jordi Cortizo and Paolo Yrizar, both of them born in Querétaro, both of them attackers.

However, neither Santos Laguna nor Querétaro have been doing well in the Apertura. Pumas and Chivas, which also have relied on their youth ranks for this season, occupy the bottom of the table.

Perhaps the blueprint on how to handle youngters belongs to Antonio Mohamed's Monterrey. Jonathan González is indisputably the rookie of the Apertura, being the only starter whose age is below 20 years old within a midfield which boasts Paraguayan international Celso Ortiz, Uruguayan international Carlos Sánchez and Mexican international Jesús Molina.

González is yet to receive a senior call-up either from Mexico, or from the USMNT, and become cap-tied internationally.

'Me la jugaré con los chavos' ('I will dare handing chances to young players') is something of a populist watchword nowadays in Liga MX: sounds great, but sorting it out on the pitch, and get the results, is tough business.

Club América requires serious internal discussions on the future of Lainez. Together with González, he is one of the league's most talented prospects and, like González, he will need to grow up within a squad of grown-ups.

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