Why South American Players Are Coming to Mexico?

There is an interesting fact about the 2019 Copa America: The most represented league in the tournament is the Mexican league with 28 players. For comparison, 24 players are based in Spain, 22 in England and 20 in Italy. It is more impressive because unlike previous tournaments, Mexico doesn't take part in it. Brazil is the only South American team in this tournament without a player for Mexico in their squad.

Latin players always came to Mexico to play there, but usually, it was in a late stage of their career. Ivan Zamorano, Claudio Lopez, and even Pep Guardiola all played in Mexico to make good money before they retired. In the last several years, the trend is changing. What has happened in Mexico in the previous years?

There are many reasons for that, and the most obvious is money. Liga MX is the richest league in the American continent. Only players with a Designated Player status in the MLS can earn more money. As each team has only three DP spots, the chance that a young Latin player will get it is very low. Compared to the rest of the continent, most of the Mexican clubs have a higher salary budget. Even South American giants, like Boca Juniors and River Plate, can't compete with the big money of Mexico. Darío Benedetto, for example, had to take a significant pay cut in order to join Boca Juniors after three years in Mexico.

Another reason is the cultural aspect, which can be important for players. The same language, as well as many other cultural similarities, are helping Latin players to prefer Mexico as their next stop. Spain can be a good destination for these players, but the limits on transferring non-European players are making it harder. They are so popular in Mexico, that they prefer to stay in the country after their retirement. These players influence new players that wish to come to Mexico, as they show that moving to the country is the right decision.

If moving to Spain can be hard because of local regulations, even if a Latin player wants to play in Europe, he might face obstacles in his way. Unless you are incredibly talented, European clubs prefer to bring European players. Every league has its own set of rules that gives them priority over their counterparts from South America. Even in South America, there are different destinations for different players. Players from Argentina have more access to European passports than players from Chile or Peru, and these players can move to Europe easily than others.

Of course, playing in Mexico cannot be compared to playing in Europe, even if we are talking about teams that are not among the world-class clubs. However, more players decide to play in Mexico because of all of these reasons. It has its impact on the Liga MX. As more talented players come, the level is rising, and both Mexican and South American players are improving. In the end, the decision to play in Mexico maybe doesn't sound so bad now.