If the veteran midfielder finds success in Madrid, El Tri will be the beneficiary as it looks toward Qatar.
According to a report by Chema G. Fuente of Mundo Deportivo, Atletico Madrid are set to close the long-rumored deal for Hector Herrera, inking the former Porto captain to a 5-year pact.
On paper the move looks like a deal that all Team Mexico fans can support. He will continue his career in what many observers consider the world’s best domestic league and will get a few more cracks at capturing a UEFA Champions League crown.
Atletico Madrid is undergoing a huge transition with key defensive studs Diego Godin, Juanfran, and Lucas Hernandez exiting, which would be compounded by the rumored departure of forward Antoine Griezmann. Is there enough talent throughout the roster to contend in the Champions League? One thing for sure; Atletico’s midfield is stacked.
Herrera departs Porto with over 230 caps, 5th all-time on the club’s list of appearances by a foreign player. The El Tri midfielder was the unquestioned leader as captain of the Dragons and he’ll arrive at a club loaded with Spanish talent – the core of Spain’s national team: Saul, Koke and Rodrigo.
It wasn’t that long ago that Diego Simeone left Mexican International Raul Jimenez on Atletico’s crowded bench. Raul was never given a real chance to show his quality, qualities that Wolves fans everywhere are marveling at as we speak.
Mexico teammate Diego Lainez struggled to secure consistent minutes in his first season in La Liga with Real Betis. Will H.H. get the opportunity to prove his worth in Madrid?
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Comparing Lainez to H.H. is unfair, however. Lainez is a youngster with a world of talent and a thin resume, while Herrera is an established star in Europe. Still, the move warrants questioning.
When the 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar, Herrera will be 32. He, along with Jimenez and Hirving Lozano, are among Mexico’s greatest recent exports to the European Leagues.
Over the last few seasons H.H. gained a lifetime’s worth of confidence, stemming from the amount of playing time he received while starring for Porto. A player with confidence is unafraid of the big moment and, instead, embraces it.
Porto fans will find it difficult to forget the moment during the 2017-2018 campaign when H.H. scored the game winning goal against Benfica to secure the club’s 28th title.
In the event that Mexico’s biggest stars return to El Tri it will be crucial for Tata Martino’s side to have an in-form Hector Herrera for qualifying matches and eventually in Qatar where they will look to reach what continues to be the elusive 5th game.
I have to agree with fellow Viva Liga MX contributor Dan Chapman that Arsenal would have been the ideal fit. Herrera would instantly fill the position left open by Aaron Ramsey and have two terrific options up top in Lacazette and Aubameyang. Additionally, Herrera’s strong defense would allow Ozil more room to operate.
In spite of all the potential hurdles Herrera will have to overcome, the glass remains half-full for him in Madrid. If Herrera can handle Simeone’s rugged style of management and secure a spot in the starting 11, his confidence will grow exponentially. And the opportunity to play against the likes of Leo Messi a few times a year won’t hurt his development.
The eyes of the Mexican fan will all be on Herrera as he continues his footballing journey in Spain. There is a definite risk in making this move, but the reward may be worth it for Herrera and El Tri.