Manuel Veth –
Dubbed the Mexican Christan Pulisic Club América’s 17-year-old wunderkind Diego Lainez is at a crossroad. Bursting on the scene last season Lainez started in seven games and made nine Liga MX appearances overall.
Although he was left off the scoresheet, the then 16-year-old was the only bright spot in what was a dismal Liga MX Clausura campaign for Las Águilas. By many accounts, one of two Mexico’s most prominent clubs América failed to reach the Liguilla (playoffs) altogether and ended up partying ways with head coach Ricardo La Volpe, who was responsible for integrating Lainez into the first squad.
La Volpe was then replaced with former América head coach Miguel Herrera—although a fireplug Herrera is widely considered Mexico’s most talented head coach. Not unlike José Mourinho Herrera has the gift to unify a dressing room for the common good.
That common good is above everything – including developing young and promising talent. Herrera is, therefore, not a coach that will put his arm around youngsters guiding them along the way to bigger better things.
Lainez – His development has stalled this season
Instead, it is all about pure performance, which is not always the ideal environment for now 17-year-old talent like Diego Lainez. It is, therefore, no surprise that Lainez’s development has somewhat stalled this season.
Starting in just four matches, Lainez has averaged 42 minutes in 11 games for Club América in Liga MX this season. His limited playing time has meant that he has not been able to make a significant impact on any games this season.
That is somewhat reflective of his attacking numbers where he stands at 0 goals and 0 assists. Digging a bit deeper his figures show that he has made 1.1 successful dribblings on average per game and won 3.5 duels (49% success rate) per match. On the negative side, Lainez was dispossessed 0.8 times per game this season.
All of this does not make for a fantastic reason. But those that have watched Lainez on a regular basis know that the young Mexican is a special player.
Although players do not like to be compared to one another the comparison to US men’s national team player Christian Pulisic is the most fitting. A classical winger Lainez will not necessarily shine by scoring goals but rather by creating chances by playing the second last pass.
Fast, dynamic and with the ability to change directions on dime Lainez can be the difference maker when given enough playing time. That lack of playing time is now what the youngster and his family want to address.
As the German portal transfermarkt.de reported, Lainez now seeks to make a move to Europe where AS Monaco and RB Leipzig are the favourites to sign the winger. Ideally, to a club that can give him playing time right away. According to the Mexican paper Record, Lainez wants to avoid the fate of his brother Mauro, who stagnated while playing for América’s rival Pachuca.
Could MLS interfere?
Valued €500,000 Lainez would likely command much more than that on the open market. On the other hand, clubs from Europe would run through open doors with the player’s agency, which has now determined that the winger needs to move abroad.
Furthermore, Lainez will turn 18 on July 9 after which he would be allowed a move away from Mexico. His 18thbirthday could not be better timed. Lainez could participate in the full season preparations with any club in Europe before the likes of Leipzig or Monaco determine further steps – perhaps a loan move to a smaller club.
Leipzig and Monaco are not the only clubs interested, however. Across the border, Major League Soccer clubs will also follow this development closely. The likes of Atlanta United, Los Angeles FC, LA Galaxy, Toronto FC and a host of other MLS sides have all increasingly targeted young Latin American talent in recent months and signing Lainez would be a major coup for MLS.
There is also a scenario in which New York Red Bulls could sign the Mexican to eventually pave the way for him to end up with Red Bull’s Bundesliga side in Leipzig. Either way despite a tough season for the young star the sky seems to be the limit when it comes to his future.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth. Or contact him via email: [email protected]