These Are The Best European Leagues For CONCACAF Players To Move To
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While playing for a big team like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United or Chelsea is definitely the most common dream for young players, some analysis shows that moving to Spain or England may not be the best choice for CONCACAF players in Europe, at least not early on in their careers.
In this article, we will analyze what the best options are for CONCACAF players dreaming of having successful careers across the pond.
There is no doubt about it. For the past ten years, Spanish teams have had a clear hegemony in Europe’s most important competitions. And yet, La Liga does not appear to be the most fruitful destination for CONCACAF players.
It is true that Andrés Guardado and Joel Campbell are among those doing well in Spain, but these are mature players that have proven their worth earlier rather than young players trying to escalate to stardom.
The Premier League is also an attractive destination but it is evident that competition in England is fierce.
Take Chicharito, arguably one of the most talented and successful players the CONCACAF region has produced in recent years. In spite of remarkable performances and plenty of goals scored for Manchester United, he could never consolidate as a starter.
Surprisingly enough, Javier Hernández then moved on to play for Real Madrid on loan. As many expected, Chicharito had even less chances of playing regularly in Spain than he did in England.
It was only after a successful stay playing for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga that Chicharito managed to return to the EPL for West Ham.
So here are the options we think are best for CONCACAF young players to move to in Europe.
Bundesliga - Germany
Many young American players have found an ideal niche in the Bundeslinga. Consider Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood and Weston McKennie.
The Bundesliga is no doubt one of the most competitive leagues in Europe. While supremacy is largely held by powerhouses Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, the rest of the teams have an average level superior to average teams in other European leagues.
This allows players to compete at a very high level while also having the chance to participate in the DFB Pokal, the Champions League and the Europa League.
Like American players, Mexican footballers have also had successful experiences playing in Germany. After the 2006 Germany World Cup, Pavel Pardo and Ricardo Osorio signed for German club VfB Stuttgart, where they became champions in 2007. Pavel Pardo is now a Bundesliga ambassador abroad.
Other Mexicans to have played in Germany are Francisco “Maza” Rodríguez (also for Stuttgart), as well as Andrés Guardado and Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, both playing for Bayer Leverkusen. Eintracht Frankfurt currently have two Mexico internationals, Marco Fabian and Carlos Salcedo.
Primeira Liga - Portugal
Currently, Portugal is the European country with the most renowned Mexican players abroad. Miguel Layún, Héctor Herrera, Diego Reyes and “Tecatito” Corona are all Porto players, while Raúl Jiménez plays for Benfica. Costa Rican star Bryan Ruiz also plays in Portugal for Sporting Lisbon.
Perhaps thinking about FC Porto’s transfer policy best illustrates why Portugal is a good platform for CONCACAF players.
FC Porto is arguably the team that best know how to spot young players, buy them at reasonable prices and then sell them a couple seasons later for stratospheric amounts. Players like Radamel Falcao, Hulk and James Rodríguez illustrate this point.
You may argue these are not CONCACAF players, but think about the likes of Jesús “Tecatito” Corona and Raúl Jiménez. They are fairly young players that still aspire to move to more prestigious leagues once they consolidate their status in Portugal.
International projection is the reason why the Portuguese league is a good option for players looking to make the transition to Europe and still have reasonable chances of playing in order to develop their talent and later move on to more competitive leagues.
Eredivisie - Netherlands
Much like Portugal’s Primeira Liga, the Eredivisie is a league that constantly attracts young talented players from around the world.
Matt Miazga, “Tecatito” Corona, Héctor Moreno, Andrés Guardado and, currently, Hirving “Chucky” Lozano have had remarkable success while playing in the Dutch league, often participating in the UCL and the Europa League.
Dutch teams like Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord and AZ Alkmaar have historically developed some of the world’s best players, including Ronaldo, Luis Suárez, and Arjen Robben.
The Eredivisie offers a welcoming environment in which young promises can develop, increase their transfer value and later move on to play in more relevant teams across Europe.
All these leagues offer the kind of great international projection that is ideal for young CONCACAF players. Even if they ultimately stayed in Germany, Portugal or the Netherlands, CONCACAF players would still compete at high level. They would also have more chances to play than they would in other countries. And if things work out for them, they can use those leagues as platform to get to other major European teams.