Catching up with a few Team Mexico stars here and abroad

Guillermo Ochoa snares a cross while playing against Serie A leaders Napoli. The Team Mexico skipper now plays for Italian minnows Salrtnitana. (Photo by Andrea Staccioli/Insidefoto/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Guillermo Ochoa snares a cross while playing against Serie A leaders Napoli. The Team Mexico skipper now plays for Italian minnows Salrtnitana. (Photo by Andrea Staccioli/Insidefoto/LightRocket via Getty Images) /
Team Mexico stars Europe
Edson Álvarez (left) was forced to play in central defense for Ajax over the weekend and acquitted himself well. Here he outleaps Team Mexico teammate Santiago Giménez of Feyenoord. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Photo by ANP via Getty Images) /

With a week remaining in the European transfer window it’s worth taking a look at how some of Mexico’s players are faring across the pond, especially as at least one will be making a move.

Let’s start with the player who will be moving – Diego Lainez. The diminutive midfielder was among the final cuts from Team Mexico before the World Cup and that decision was taken because the Club América product was getting very little playing time.

Lainez’s situation is even more dire now as Portuguese club Braga ended his loan deal shipping him back to Spain’s Real Betis who have said he is free to move on. Back home in Mexico, América and Tigres expressed interest but his wage demands are outsized considering his form.

América quickly ended their pursuit of their former protégé while Tigres told Betis they would shell out the $7 million buyout and meet the $2 million-dollar salary sought by the shift playmaker. Lainez, however, does not want to give up on his European dreams though there is little interest, so that drama might play out right up to the Feb. 1 transfer window deadline.

Leaving Mexico for new adventures

Two members of El Tri crossed over to the Old Country since the forgettable World Cup and two others are reportedly listening to bids, while another had an offer rejected by his Mexican club team.

As we’ve reported, goalie Guillermo Ochoa and defender César Montes are defending new colors now. Ochoa is with his fifth European team (France’s Ajaccio, Spain’s Málaga and Granada, Belgium’s Sporting Liege and now Italy’s Salernitana), while Montes is new to UEFA.

The 37-year-old Ochoa got off to a great start with Salernitana, wowing Italian fans with a sparkling 8-save performance against AC Milan in his Serie A debut, but was riddled by Atalanta for 8 goals in his third match. Still, the Italian sports press has praised his performances for the modest Salerno-based club.

Montes, 25, debuted with Espanyol in a Copa del Rey match and has impressed thus far. The former Monterrey star has four complete games in five appearances in Spain.

Two other Team Mexico players are also hearing from European clubs. Pachuca teammates Luis Chávez and Kevin Álvarez are both drawing interest from FC Porto. The Portuguese giant has had some positive experiences signing players from Mexico (Héctor Herrera and Jesús “Tecatito” Corona starred for the Dragons while Diego Reyes and Miguel Layún enjoyed success there as well).

Chávez rejected a big-money contract from Monterrey, insisting he’d only leave Pachuca for Europe, while the Tuzos batted aside a trade offer from América because they figure to make more money by selling him abroad.

Álvarez, Pineda making headlines

Team Mexico midfielders Edson Álvarez and Orbelín Pineda have given star turns for their respective teams, Ajax and AEK Athens.

Álvarez stood tall for the Dutch giants in a weekend draw at Feyenoord in the Eredivisie De Klassieker while playing in central defense, his original position as he came up through the Club América academy system.

As for Pineda, his loan to the AEK, one of the three most successful teams in Greek football, has been rather spectacular. The dynamic playmaker bombed with Celta Vigo after joining them in January but has been a key contributor in Athens where he has been reunited with his former Chivas coach, Matías Almeyda.

Since being loaned out over the summer, “El Mago” has 7 goals and 3 assists in 22 matched and AEK has hinted it wants to make the loan deal permanent.

Another Team Mexico regular who thought he was going to join Pineda in the Greek Super League was winger Uriel Antuna.

A couple weeks ago, Panathinaikos approached Cruz Azul with a bid but the Cementeros turned aside the initial offer. The Shamrocks made two additional presentations but failed to meet the minimum asking price and the unhappy Antuna seems destined to spend at least the next six months in Mexico.

Next. El Tri's terrible month-and-a-half. dark

One final rumor worth mentioning involves striker Raúl Jiménez. The lanky striker has been struggling to find his form since struggling with a sports hernia last year and his spot with Wolverhampton now appears in jeopardy. Besiktas – one of Turkey’s Big Three – has asked about him and the question now is does Raúl prefer the chance to play more in a lesser league or will he hold out for a chance to remain in the English Premier League?