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Qatar 2022 may have been the worst World Cup for the Mexican soccer team in 44 years (since Argentina 1978 El Tri hadn’t been left out in the first phase when they managed to qualify for the cup), but at least it served as a stepping stone for some internationals the leap into the European leagues. As is well known, that’s where the stripes are created that really make a footballer great.
Such is the case of veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who left America to join Salernitana in Italy’s Seria A, already his fifth European experience after playing rather irregularly at Ajaccio, Malaga, Granada and Standard de Liège. But not only the goalkeeper will compete outside the Liga MX. So does centre-back César Montes, previously part of Monterrey, who will wear the shirt of Espanyol de Barcelona in La Liga. Much has been said about the perceived interest of some European teams in the services of others of their peers, such as midfielder Luis Chávez or attacker Alexis Vega, but so far no other commitment has emerged than that of Ochoa and Montes.
Montes won the Liga Mx with club Monterrey in 2019. Hector Vivas (Getty Images)
César Montes was one of the least criticized players in Gerardo el Tata Martino’s side and while his team-mate Chávez was not unanimously praised, his performance received many positive comments from pundits and spectators. However, the challenge of making the leap to Spain comes with some complications.
Because Montes’ European adventure starts a bit late in his career, at 25, which is a lot if we compare them to the average age Latin footballers are when they arrive in the world’s strongest leagues, and that could delay their adjustment. It must also be considered that this will happen at Espanyol, a club with a great history and tradition behind them, but which has been stuck in the middle of the table for years and is often involved in the struggle for non-existence. In fact, his last promotion came only in 2021 and currently he sits 16th in the La Liga table at the halfway point in the season, one point away from the risk zone. Nevertheless, Montes is optimistic. He hopes to soon adjust to his new city, club and team-mates and help calm Espanyol’s defence, which is currently one of the most battered defenses of the tournament.
Montes during the World Cup match against Argentina on November 26th. STUART FRANKLIN (Getty Images)
Cesar Montes was born in 1997 in Hermosillo, Sonora. He progressed through the Basic Forces of Monterrey (after a failed tryout in Pachuca) and rose through category after category until he made first team in 2015 at the age of just 18. As well as becoming a defensive bulwark with the striped, he has achieved everything: the league, cup and Concachampions, although an untimely positive for Covid prevented him from taking part in the opening games of the Club World Cup in 2022 and he only was able to play against Ay Yazira of Saudi Arabia in the fifth-place play-off, for which he scored in Monterrey’s 3-1 win.
He was a runner-up at the Toulon Hopes tournament in 2018 with the Under-21 team and has already won a Gold Cup in 2019 and Olympic bronze at Tokyo 2020 with the older team. He was a fixture in his position during qualifiers for Qatar, playing as a starter at the World Cup. And although Mexico stayed in the group stage, at least their participation was positive enough to open the doors to Europe for them. And at Espanyol, a club where, curiously enough, Héctor Moreno, his teammate from the back in Monterrey and also in the Qatar national team since 2021, has been the center of attention for four seasons and has been one of the most solid central defenders in the Mexican’s history in football. Will Montes be able to fill in his illustrious footsteps?
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César Montes, From The Qatar Catastrophe To The European Dream – S Chronicles
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