Moving to Mexico a trend for European-based Mexicans?

Pavel Pardo (AFP) 

by GIANFRANCO PANIZO

There's no place like home.

Mexican midfielder Pavel Pardo is the latest poster boy for that notion. The 32-year-old recently inked a deal with Mexican club America, where he played from 1999-2006, from German Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart.

Pardo, who's scored 10 goals for 'El Tricolor', left America for the Bundesliga following the 2006 World Cup. It didn't take long for Pardo to flourish in Germany.

In his first season, Pardo played a vital role in Stuttgart's Bundesliga championship, the club's third league title and first since 1992. In his sophomore season with Stuttgart, the defending champions finished disappointingly in 6th place. Though the team failed to contend for the Bundesliga crown, finishing 24 points behind winners Bayern Munich, Pardo become a mainstay with the club.

But after two solid seasons with Stuttgart, a coaching change and poor form saw Pardo lose his starting role on the team in 2008. With the lack of playing time he was receiving, it came as no surprise that Pardo put pen to paper with his former club earlier this month. Mexican media reported that America had bought back the World Cup veteran for $4 million.

However, Pardo is not the only European-based Mexican who has recently eyed a move back home. In what appears to be becoming more of a trend, Mexican players seem willing to head back to their native land if it means finding more minutes on the field.

Earlier this year, Omar Bravo and troubled Mexican Nery Castillo were linked to moves back home. Bravo, who just joined Deportivo La Coruna in May, was linked to a move to Santos Laguna due to his lack of playing time with the Spanish club. Castillo, on the other hand, had more than just rumors surfacing, he was actually denied a loan opportunity to head from Manchester City to Guadalajara.

"Nery spoke to Nestor (de la Torre, Guadalajara president) and confirmed he would like to move back home soon. But we have to analyze every offer," said Castillo's agent, Juan Carlos Padilla to soccernet.com back in October.

So why the sudden trend? Well, you could chalk it up to two reasons. The first is obviously the comfortability of playing at home in familiar territory and not having to adjust to a new climate, language and lifestyle. The second, Mexico's Primera Division is a strong technical league where many talented players, including the majority of the Mexican National Team players, ply their trade.

Now this trend does not mean that Mexicans will go extinct in Europe, it just means that you can expect more players to return to Mexico rather than play for division-two teams if they completely fall out of favor with their European clubs.

Besides, solid showings in the strong Mexican league can always reward players with more European interest, just ask Pavel Pardo.

What do you think of this story? Is it a trend? Do you think MLS can ever get to the level of the Primera Division and keep more of its players? Think Mexican players are better off in Europe?

Share your thoughts below.

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27 Responses to Moving to Mexico a trend for European-based Mexicans?

  1. Kyle says:

    I laugh at this because of how it makes the Mexican national team look but I’m also happy because I support America and this is exactly the type of player we’ve been missing since he left.

  2. Christian says:

    Bundesliga policy of only offering anual extensions to existing contracts for players over 30 was the main reason Pardo went back to Mexico.

    Money talks Gianfranco.

    Pardo was also injured for most of the first 3 months of the season having only returned 4 weeks ago. His injury is what caused his dip in form which is only obvious.

    The only reports that linked Bravo with returning to Mexico were the Mexican tabloids.

    They also did the same with Aaron Galindo and Carlos Salcido.

    I think Pardo is just looking for a nice payday before he retires which will probably happen right after the WC.

    Nice piece Gianfranco, keep it up.

  3. Charles says:

    Soccer is huge in mexico so they know the fans will be there to watch them and the pay will be there. But I don’t think it’s a trend at all. Most players would still rather play in Europe and the Champions League. For some players a return to the homeland is just to recharge the batteries to relaunch an attack on European soccer. The Mexican league is definitely the best in Concacaf, but ambituous players will always head overseas. Playing for Stutgartt is better than playing for America. I don’t know if MLS will ever reach the level of the Primera Division. MLS is not exactly kind to creative players. I you look at the majority of players that are considered top recruits for drafts, they are always more defenders and defensive midfielders. Plus the fanbase just isn’t strong enough. Football and Basketball will always be around. I don’t imagine soccer becoming a thanksgiving favorite over football anytime soon.

  4. Isaac says:

    This is kinda cool. A lot of Americans play in……America. And we’ve dominated as of late. Mexico playing at home will evolve the rivalry. Not to say i want Mexico to win but I want USA to beat Mexico when Mexico are at their best. Hey, more bragging rights.

  5. Daniel says:

    Charles. No kidding soccer is huge in Mexico. It’s also huge in Europe as well. But the main point is this. Euopeans with the exception of Barcelona who has Rafael Marquez thinks that Americans and Mexicans can’t play their style or brand of football as an attacking player. And the other reason is this. Most Mexicans will head back to their league because they know that they will get the minutes for their respective clubs.

    So Chuck let me say that your post is very condensending and ignorant as well. MLS is still a growing league and it continues to improve the American player and the players that are coming over. If you think that it’s not kind to creative players. Tell me why does Juan Pablo Angel have a total of 33 goals inside his first two seasons of MLS play. Tell me why Dave van den Bergh was able to cross the ball effectivly and score some strong goals. Dane Richards was able to attack more and set up goals.

    Ignorance of MLS will one day show the Mexican league as a fraud. Stop assuming and see what the league really is. A growing force that will become just as good technically as the Mexican League.

  6. Carlos Banda says:

    this is a pretty good writing franco, and i agree with the fact that mexican players at first would all love to play in europe because it is such a big opportunity not to mention the level of soccer is a huge difference in comparison to central america such as the speed of play; but i believe that eventually the players get a little homesick and decide to return to mexico due to the respect they will recieve as well as the financial benefits. Plus, brown doesnt always mix with white.

  7. Charles says:

    Daniel, when i say that the league is not kind to creative players, I mean that they are not too eager to sign young creative players. And if you think Dave Van Der Bum is a creative player you need to stop watching the game because you don’t have a clue. Dave is no Messi. my left nut can cross a ball. And Angel was a failure in England so I don’t even consider him in any sort of argument. Look how MLS completely demolished Freddy Adu’s technical abilities. Now he’s nothing more than a guy who can pass the ball. Another thing that my left nut can do with aplomb. Craig Capano, remember him? creative player, now can’t even be seen anywhere. Remember when Bobby Convey first came unto the scene? now he can barely attack, which is part of the reason for his lack of time at Reading.

  8. Dave Clark says:

    Charles, I’d like to offer your left nut a position on my GSSL team, it obviously has talent.

    More seriously, why is that you feel that MLS destroys the creative scoring in supposedly talented players? What is it about the league, rather than the player that is at fault.

    Personally, I’m stoked that the Mexican Primera has enough money that it can bring its talented but bench-riding players back, hopefully MLS can do the same.

  9. Sticky says:

    Is comfortability the same thing as comfort? Or am I missing something? I always thought I enjoyed the comforts of home, but now I guess I need an upgrade, especially in the middle of the holiday season.

    Sorry, it’s a nit I had to pick.

  10. Joe says:

    I think the MLS has the same chance at signing its older players. Hes 32 and wants to come back and play at home. We tend to forget that these players have been playing at this high level for many years and their bodies are getting beat up year after year. I think we are gonna see the same thing happen when our good players get to be that age. Dempsey, Boca, Gooch, players like these will be coming back to play in the MLS before their careers are over.

  11. Modibo says:

    Joe, I’m not so sure about all those players. Dempsey had an ESPN interview in which he claimed that he wanted to stay abroad for the rest of his career. That said, I think it’s likely that many of them might try to finish up at home a la Reyna and McBride – and Pardo, Bravo, etc. in Mexico.

  12. Joe says:

    Well see when Clint is 32-33 and not getting minutes on a relegation bound or championship side but still feels like he can play. He’ll come back to the MLS for more money than he is worth and pack it in for his last season. Which isnt a bad thing. Everyone goes back to their home country to end their careers. Edgar Davids, Roy Makaay, Makalele, Stam, McBride, Ronaldo.

  13. JC says:

    Talk about making a mountain out of a mole hill. Pardo has been the only Euro-based Mexican to have gone back home so far this season and the guy is 32 years old, of course he’s gonna want to come back at that age. Also the whole coming back for the comforts of home theory doesn’t make sense in Nery’s case because he’s never lived in Mexico.

  14. Bill says:

    What is the pay scale for the Mexican League is it on par with MLS or is it closer to the European leagues?

  15. Northzax says:

    seriously, one old guy moves home and two others might have talked about it, but nothing came of it, and this is a trend? Sorry, this is sloppy journalism. And yes, when the New York Times makes up a ‘trend’ out of a few sketchy data points, I complain about that, too.

  16. GianFranco Panizo says:

    Northzax,

    nothing came of Castillo’s move because they didn’t come to an agreement on time. Guadalajara wanted Castillo for their Copa Sudamericana run but a deal didn’t get finalized in time.

    Also, the winter transfer window hasn’t even begun. There’s still plenty of time for moves to be made.

  17. Daniel F. says:

    Chuck. You left nut is not that talented, nor is the left side of your brain that smart. Lionel Messi will never come here to MLS or to Mexico. Even I know the league isn’t that established. If Messi ever comes to MLS it’s after his time with Barcelona is done.

    Understand what I am saying and try to remember if you can. Both Adu & Convey are talented, yet they developed an ego that got themselves in trouble here in MLS and abroad. That’s why they aren’t getting any time with their respective clubs. Also it was Peter Nowak who refused to use him at DC United. Just like Feilhaber who never played in MLS, after he bombed your net with the match winner in the 2007 Gold Cup Final. His ego got the best of him and he never got another sniff of pitch again.

    Josy Altidore is a young player who really had one full season and barely 2 half seasons within three years in MLS. He produced goals before transfering over to Villarreal in Spain. If he could’ve stayed here in NY for the full 08 Season all your assumptions would be thrown away. The only thing Altidore can do and that Adu, Convey & Feilhaber didn’t do was have their heads screwed on right and not have an ego that is mile high.

    It’s more than just the talent or the quality of the player Chuck. It’s also having an even keel feeling. Head screwed on right attitude. Just like the arrogance of football supporters of Mexico who assume their league is the best in the world when it isn’t. Everyone with the exception of Marquez is coming home because no one wants to use these players anymore.

    This league is improving every year. One day it could be one of the best in the world, but till that day comes it’s still growing & I’m proud of it.

  18. radmonkey says:

    “Just like the arrogance of football supporters of Mexico who assume their league is the best in the world when it isn’t.”

    No one in Mexico assumes this, not even after 5 shots of tequila. They’re not that deluded. That’s hyperbole.
    They don’t even think they’re better than South American countries, why do you think they’re so eager to play in Libertadores. *rollseyes*

    If you read any Mexican coverage, in spanish. You’d realize the overall pessimism on the state of the league and NT in general.

  19. RK says:

    I hadn’t said anything, because I thought I was simply ignorant about the number of Mexicans returning. This does seem like a mountain out of a molehill.

    First of all, didn’t Mexicans just begin to go to Europe? I was living in DF in 2000, and I remember how excited Mexicans were that someone was finally going to La Liga (Blanco to Valladolid). There still aren’t that many there; those that are area getting older, so of course they are returning. What’s the big deal?

    A real analysis would try to establish this so-called “trend”.

  20. Jonathan says:

    The comments here are defending Americans who are permanently stuck on European benches while taking a dump on older Mexicans who may/ may not be returning home. The same posters who would claim that signing those Mexicans as good for MLS fan growth if they were to come to MLS.

    When did Ives’ corner turn into Big Soccer?

  21. Northzax says:

    Daniel: for the record, I think you are being unfair to Convey. He did start for several seasons in Reading before blowing out his knee in 06. While he was gone (missing Germany, as you recall) the Hunts locked down starting spots, including on the left wing. To say he’s not playing because of ‘ego’ kind of overlooks his knee injury and subsequent realities, no?

    Gf: who knows? Show me three Mexican pool players in their prime coming back to Mexico to play, and you have a trend. Right now it’s an outlier.

  22. huricano says:

    I don’t know if you can really call La Liga de Mexico, “a strong technical league.” Its way behind Argentina and Brasil. As to Pardo, he’s 32…not like a player in his peak is leaving Germany for Mexico.

  23. Louie says:

    I agree that this is not a trend, but it is a very interesting discussion for both Mexican and US Nats. Pardo was done, McBride was almost done and chose to come home, Lewis was also done. Nothing wrong with coming back home in those cases. It’s Beasley and Bravo that are struggling to play, and sometimes dress for their respective Euro teams, and so their return would be deemed a failure or a premature move abroad. Don’t forget the failures of Palencia, Blanco (through injury), Vidrio,Jones, Max-Moore, etc.
    To answer about the Mexican cap, there is none, but the owners (also called the mafia) do have self-imposed rules for how much to pay a player. They also have a gentleman’s agreement regarding free agents, so Santos would have had to compensate Guadalajara for Bravo, even though his contract was expired.

  24. Pete says:

    I just see it as they can make the same money in Mexico and stay home while also playing in some big cup competitions (Libertadores, CONCACAF champs league, and Interliga), and not have to worry about the cultural adaptation and climate in Europe and possibly racism out there (not saying it’s there, but a chance in some parts of Europe)

  25. Tony B says:

    One player returning home is not a trend. Neither Castillo nor Bravo made the move. The story here: Pardo returns home. Period.

  26. Chrös says:

    I’m sorry, this just wasn’t a very compelling read.

  27. dhines says:

    good lord, this was a waste of time read . . .

    bottom line, mexico has the finances that keeps their players from leaving for money. players leave the mls because of low pay and the dream of europe. even when a mls player gets benched in europe, their pay is double or triple that of the mls, such isn’t the case with the FMF. hopefully times will change so that money isn’t the driving factor moving players away from the mls