El Tri wonderkid Lainez’s future lies away from America

first_imgThere were plenty of America fans in Puebla last weekend, and they were treated to a 2-0 victory by their team. Even after the game, though, some left disappointed. Diego Lainez, the teenage sensation who will suit up for Mexico against Uruguay on Friday, came on only for a late cameo.Manager Miguel Herrera was asked about the decision and if he felt he’d disappointed the fans after the contest. The prickly manager bristled at the question, pointing out fans came to see more than simply Lainez.”I expected that they came to see America. Lainez isn’t America,” Herrera said. “He’s a great player, an extraordinary player and surely he’s going to make a difference. Lainez deserves his call-up. He’s done things well and now has to show he’s ready for this.” Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! He certainly looks ready, with interim manager Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti including the 18-year-old among a number of young players for Friday’s match and the one next week against the United States.He sounds ready, too. “It’s really good that we’ve been taken into consideration being so young,” Lainez said at a news conference this week. “We’re going to get experience and learn. It’s a great chance to show ourselves and to have international contact with senior national teams.”All that makes the caution Herrera and America have exercised all the more strange. The manager has been hesitant to put Lainez in, leaving the teenager on the bench or out of the squad last tournament even as the team struggled to find the back of the net down the stretch.Lainez stood out in Toulon this summer, getting looks from a number of European teams at the prestigious youth tournament, and earned a regular place in the America senior team for the Apertura. Even after Jeremy Menez and other attackers went down with injuries, though, Lainez has continued to mostly see spot duty. He’s gone a full 90 minutes just once and started four of Las Aguilas’ eight matches.It’s not the approach Herrera’s predecessor, Ricardo La Volpe took. The veteran Argentine is known for tossing young players in whenever they look ready, which resulted in both Lainez and defender Edson Alvarez making their professional debuts in 2017. Lainez’s debut came after a clerical error when the team tried to put a different player in the squad but found out he was not properly registered. Since then, his time on the field with America has been limited. It’s a contrast to the approach taken by many Liga MX teams recently. Most notably there’s the example of Hirving Lozano and Erick Gutierrez, who both became regular starters with Pachuca when they were 17 before making the jump to PSV. Other teenagers are having breakout years as well, with 17-year-old Marcel Ruiz playing a huge part of Queretaro’s surprising turnaround, 19-year-old Jonathan Gonzalez again putting grit into Monterrey’s midfield and a hoard of young talents seeing frequent minute for Pachuca.Diego Lainez MexicoPachuca is a smaller club than America, but Lainez has showed he has the talent to contribute even to one of the country’s biggest and best teams. Lainez’s national teammates are seeing far more time than he is. Cruz Azul winger Roberto Alvarado, who turns 20 Friday, already has 586 minutes for a team sitting in first place. Alvarado also is a bright prospect, but he hasn’t turned the heads of European giants like Lainez has.That all adds up to Lainez’s future being away from America – and the Americas. Porto winger Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, Lozano and defender Carlos Salcedo have set the standard for rising Mexican stars by rejecting big money to stay in Mexico and testing the waters in Europe. “I’ve seen myself in Europe since I was young. It’s something that comes in everyone’s DNA. I’ve been patient, rejecting offers in Mexico and in other leagues that play better and now I’m in a competitive league like the Bundesliga,” Salcedo said this week. While he’s been measured, Lainez has been calm in the face of reports that there was interest for him. “It’s an honor for people to speak well of you. I simply am doing what I like to do. I love being on the field, and [when I’m there] I forget about everything,” he said in June when reports emerged that two Ligue 1 clubs wanted his services.America sporting director Santiago Banos said Thursday the club rejected an offer from Roma to bring the player to Serie A and that the player understands and respects the club’s position. While Lainez is content at America for now, Banos said he’d gone as far as speaking to the player’s parents to make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding his future.”I spoke with them, I reiterated that at the right time we’ll open the doors for Diego. It’s not about keeping him here,” Banos said Thursday. “The one in charge of those things, above all the economics, is Mauricio (Culebro, club president). On the sporting side, clearly it wasn’t what we wanted because we want Diego to stay with us for longer and surely it’s not what the club expected in economic terms. You have to wait for the right circumstances to come together both for the player and for us and Diego could leave without issue.”That’s easy to say now, but if Lainez continues his rise and plays the part he’s expected to in the next cycle for El Tri, the phone will keep ringing. Lainez’s desire to get to Europe and not only see playing time but see time against some of the best players in the world will only grow as well.America fans away from the capital may be justified in their disappointment at seeing Lainez only for a few minutes in person. His future is not in Mexico but abroad – it’s only a matter of time for a move to come through.last_img