Sergio Canales follows in footsteps of ‘El Buitre’ and Pep Guardiola

Sergio Canales (left) played with long-time El Tri captain Andrés Guardado (right) at Real Betis. Now Canales plays for Liga MX giants Monterrey. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)
Sergio Canales (left) played with long-time El Tri captain Andrés Guardado (right) at Real Betis. Now Canales plays for Liga MX giants Monterrey. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images) /
Liga MX Canales
Just last month, Sergio Canales played for Spain in the UEFA Nations League. “La Furia Roja” won the title. Now he’ll be plying his trade in Liga MX. (Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images) /

Deep-pocketed Monterrey presented its newest bauble as the Rayados seek to win their first Liga MX title in four years.

Spain international Sergio Canales was formally introduced to the club’s fan base and the 32-year-old attacking midfielder quickly endeared himself to Rayados Nation.

“I was looking for a new challenge and I know this club is determined to win titles,”he said. And I am here to help.

“I can’t wait to play in the Clásico (Regiomontano),” he added, referencing the Monterrey derby between the Rayados and bitter crosstown rivals, Tigres. He’ll have to wait until Matchday 9 (Sept. 23) to find out how intense the Clásico Regio is, however.

From the Cantabrian coast to Northern Mexico

Canales has bounced around a bit, playing for five LaLiga teams before crossing the pond to Liga MX.

The Santander native played started out with his hometown team – Racing de Santander – before a one-year stint at Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho. Since then, Canales has been with Valencia, Real Sociedad and Real Betis. He has 68 goals and 66 assists in his portfolio.

While at Real Sociedad, the Spaniard coincided with Mexico defender Héctor Moreno (his new teammate at Monterrey) and while at Real Betis he shared the locker room with long-time El Tri captain Andrés Guardado.

Canales stared on several Spain junior teams, helping “La Furia Roja” win the U-17 Eurocopa in 2017 and hoisting the U-21 Eurocopa in 2013. He was also a member of Spain’s UEFA Nations League championship side earlier this summer.

Another Spaniard in Liga MX

The new Rayados midfielder joins six other Spaniards currently playing in Liga MX.

  1. Álvaro Fidalgo, América, midfielder
  2. Unaí Bilbao, Atlético de San Luis, defender
  3. Édgar Méndez, Necaxa, winger
  4. Borja Sánchez, León, winger
  5. Aitor García, FC Juárez, winger
  6. Oscar Whalley, Guadalajara, goalie

The first two are established starters with their respective Liga MX clubs, Fidalgo the linchpin of a potent Aguilas offense and Bilbao the back-line general of an up-and-coming Tuneros squad.

Spaniards have played football in Mexico since the amateur era of the 1930s. Isidro Lángara was one of the first splashy acquisitions in Mexican soccer, emigrating at the outset of the Spanish Civil War.

The Basque goal-scorer played with Spain in the 1934 World Cup, before starring at Euskadi and Real España in the Mexican League. Lángara recorded 19 goals in 11 games with Euskadi in 1938-39, before spending four years in Argentina. He returned in 1945 and terrorized goalies the next three seasons, scoring 27, 38 and 40 goals while helping Real España win the 1944-45 league title. On May 19, 1946, “El Tanque” rippled the net 7 times in a 9-1 Real España win over Marte.

Puebla has been a popular site for Spanish players, dating back to the 1980s. Barcelona star Juan Manuel Asensi (the defender is still 17th all-time in games played for “Los Culés” with 396 appearances) joined Puebla in the middle of the 1980-81 season.

Joining Asensi on that Camoteros team was legendary Real Madrid playmaker, Pirri, who scored 172 goals in 561 games with “Los Merengues.”

The 90s saw several iconic LaLiga players play out their careers in Mexico. Barcelona stars José María Bakero (Veracruz) and Josep Guardiola (Sinaloa). Yes, Pep played in Mexico.

In addition, key members of “El Quinto del Buitre”  brought their show to Celaya as Emilio Butragueño and Michel joined former teammate Hugo Sánchez to make the Toros relevant, if only briefly.

A few seasons past before another Spaniard set foot on a Liga MX pitch and that was Barcelona and Liverpool star Luis García and he, naturally, arrived to play with Puebla before a lengthy stay with the Pumas of UNAM.

Here’s a list of Spaniards who have played in Liga MX since the short season format was adopted.

  • 1. Michel -Celaya- 1996-1997
  • 2. Emilio Butragueño – Celaya- 1996-1998
  • 3. Carlos Muñoz – Puebla -1996-1998
  • 4. José Mari Bakero – Veracruz  -Verano 1997
  • 5. Rafael Martín Vázquez –Celaya -1997-1998
  • 6. Raúl Ibáñez – Puebla – 1997-1998
  • 7. Francisco Higuera – Puebla – 1997-1998
  • 8. Rafael Paz – Celaya – 1997−1998
  • 9. Miguel Pardeza – Puebla – 1998-1999
  • 10. Paco Luna – Monterrey – 2000-2001
  • 11. Ricardo “’Bango”González    Celaya 2001-2002
  • 12. Javier Manjarín  – Celaya y Santos – 2001-2003
  • 13. Josep Guardiola – Dorados – Clausura 2006
  • 14. Luis García Saenz-  Puebla y Pumas – 2011-2013
  • 15. Marc Crosas – Santos, U de G y Cruz Azul- 2011-2016
  • 16. Raúl Tamudo – Pachuca-  Apertura 2012
  • 17. Valmiro Lopes Rocha “Valdo” – Atlante – Apertura 2012
  • 18. Luis García Fernández –  Tigres – 2012-2013
  • 19. Saúl Berjón-  Pumas – Apertura 2016
  • 20. Abraham González – Pumas 2016
  • 21. Víctor Vázquez– Cruz Azul- 2016

Monterrey makes moves to open foreigner roster spot

The Rayados had to clear space on its roster as Liga MX rules permit only nine foreigners per team. On Tuesday, Paraguayan midfielder Celso Ortiz was released.

GM José Antonio Noriega told reporters that the Rayados would make additional moves before the transfer deadline snaps shut in late August. A Monterrey-based website indicated that forward Rodrigo Aguirre as likely on his way to Atlas, but there was no word on whether or not his roster spot would be filled.

Next. Catching up on Leagues Cup after first matchday. dark

Canales will have plenty of time to acclimate to life in Mexico as his new teammates compete in the Concacaf Leagues Cup. Liga MX play will not resume until mid-August.