Rewind one year and there were no Spaniards in the Mexican first division, now there are four.
The latest addition is former Zaragoza striker Luis Garcia Fernandez, who signed a one year contract on Friday at Tigres.
“It´s a very important club that has extraordinary fans,” said the 31-year-old at his unveiling. “All the tickets are already sold before the season has even begun, I´ve never seen that.”
The former Spain international brings a wealth of experience to Tigres and will pick up the mantle left by outgoing Chilean striker Hector Mancilla.
Garcia rose through the ranks of the Real Madrid youth system, but made his name at Espanyol in Barcelona, where he played from 2005 until 2011. In recent years though, goals haven´t flowed for the player, with him netting just 18 times in La Liga in his last 137 appearances since the 2008-9 season.
Garcia will wear the number 9 shirt for Tigres, who go into the new season again as one of the teams to beat for the championship.
The signing again highlights what could be the beginning of a trend in Mexican soccer of Spaniards coming over to play in the Liga MX.
Former Liverpool and Atletico Madrid forward Luis Garcia became the only Spaniard in the league when he signed for Puebla almost exactly one year ago and has given effusive praise to life in Mexico and the league, despite playing for one of the less prestigious clubs.
The good form of the 34-year-old for Puebla earned him a move to Mexico City giants Pumas in the offseason, which hugely increases his profile.
A legend for Espanyol, 34-year-old striker Raul Tamado joined big spenders Pachuca this summer and revealed that he had no concerns about the move.
He told Fútbol Picante: “I wanted to leave Spain and I had some very good references about Pachuca and Mexico. I didn´t doubt it for a single moment. My agent called me, he asked if I wanted to come here and I knew that Hugo Sanchez was the trainer and, the truth is, I didn´t have doubts.”
Finally, Santos Laguna midfielder Marc Crosas represents something slightly different from the above three, mainly because he is only 24 years old.
Crosas grew up in the famous Barcelona youth system and joined the Guerreros over the winter.
The player has said on numerous occasions how impressed he has been with the setup at the club and has told the Mexican press of his desire to hold down a regular first team slot for the upcoming season.
In some ways, it is not surprising that Spaniards are being attracted to Mexico. Speaking the same language and having a not too dissimilar culture makes the adaption easier than it would be in other leagues.
Then there are the playing conditions. The top Mexican teams can pay wages that match many La Liga clubs and the money goes much further in Mexico. The Spanish economy isn´t exactly booming, either.
Factor in the fact that Tigres´ new Spaniard will be playing in front of 42,000 fans every two weeks and it makes Mexico an attractive option – there are only two teams in La Liga with a higher average attendance than Tigres.
If two or three of the four Spaniards now in Mexico really start to make a mark in the Liga MX, a steady flow of Spaniards from the Old Continent is more than likely to follow.
By Tom Marshall (@MexicoWorldCup)
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