Leon | Andres Guardado left behind a trail of titles and achievements in Europe

The new Liga MX bomb arrives from Europe. Andres Guardado, one of the most important Mexican footballers in history, will return to Mexico after 14 years spent in the “old continent”. Five clubs, three countries and seven titles later, “The Little Prince” will stop in León to begin the final phase of a successful career that has included appearances at five World Cups and numerous individual accolades. An idol of Eindhoven and La Coruña, his task now is to impress the demanding audience at León’s Camp Nou.

Andres Guardado’s figures in Europe.SofaScore

Guardado’s emergence came very early. He made his debut at just 18 years old in the First Division wearing the Atlas de Guadalajara uniform. This was in August 2005. Just two years later, with the World Cup already in hand (Germany 2006), Guardado began his European mission. The Red and Blacks received offers from clubs such as Milan, Roma and Juventus, but eventually accepted an offer from Deportivo La Coruña in exchange for seven million euros. Guardado quickly became an important part of the Galician national team, although injuries to his right leg hampered his play in his first two seasons. He played in the UEFA Cup and the defunct Intertoto Cup, which he won, before falling out of favor in the 2010–11 season when El Depor confirmed their promotion to the Spanish second division. Guardado chose to remain in La Coruña and contribute to the team’s return to La Liga, which occurred a year later. With the blue and white team, the winger from Guadalajara made 149 appearances, scored 25 goals, made 31 assists and won two trophies: Intertoto and Second Division.

Luck was not on Guardado’s side at Valencia, his second team in Europe. For a year and a half he played for Naranjeros, where he played in a position he did not dominate: left back. Under the captaincy of Ernesto Valverde and then Mirsolav Djukic, Guardado struggled to feel comfortable on the pitch despite remaining a regular starter. For the Valencian, the “Little Prince” took part in 66 matches (including seven in the Champions League), celebrated a goal and made seven assists. In the middle of the 2013–2014 season, “che” loaned the Mexican team to Bayer Leverkusen. There, Guardado experienced his worst moment in Europe: he appeared in just seven fights and did not add any noticeable statistics. Then he was able to return to Mexico, but a good performance at the World Cup in Brazil with El Tri gave him a second wind.

He was noticed by PSV. In Eindhoven, under the tactical guidance of Philip Cocu, Guardado changed his playing style. From a left winger with a back and forth movement to an inside midfielder with a penchant for holding back. He already tried this position in Brazil in 2014, but brought it to perfection at PSV. His leadership matched the club’s culture, which soon made him captain and central player. He became the idol of the “farmer’s” fans, who composed songs and created mosaics in his honor during his three years of stay. During his time in the Netherlands, Guardado left 102 games, four goals, 22 assists and four titles: two leagues and two Super Cups (2015–2016).

You might be wondering – What was Liga MX like when Guardado went to Europe?

The journey ended at Real Betis, although it was his longest adventure. Six and a half years at the highest level. Quique Setien, Rubi, Alexis Trujillo and Manuel Pellegrini have always trusted the abilities of the man from Guadalajara, who has become a real mainstay in the midfield. His associative abilities matched Setien and Pellegrini’s possession game. Between 2017 and 2020, his importance in the activities of the Betic team was enormous. After that, he alternated up and down, due to constant injuries, although he never ceased to have an edge in the dressing room. He shared the captaincy, led the team to the Europa League and won Betic’s first trophy in 17 years and the fourth biggest trophy in its long history: the 2022 Copa del Rey.

In just 14 and a half years there were 542 games, 35 goals, 77 assists and seven championships. The legend of the “Little Prince” in Europe will now come to an end in Mexico.

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