Rafa Marquez set to join Italian side Hellas Verona

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At 35 years old and coming off of his fourth World Cup, Rafael Marquez has decided to return to top-flight European football.

Marquez was once one of the top defenders in the world, playing in France before racking up over 160 appearances for Spanish giants Barcelona. Still in strong form, Marquez left Europe to join the New York Red Bulls of the MLS in 2010. However, his stint in New York was disappointing and Marquez himself admitted coming to America was “a bad decision.”

He then returned to his native Mexico, leading Leon to back-to-back Liga MX titles. After captaining Mexico for a record fourth World Cup in Brazil, it seemed as if Marquez’s storied career was coming to an end.

Almost 20 years into his professional career, Marquez no longer has the pace to keep up with the top strikers in Europe, which was seen during his play in the World Cup. He instead relies on his experience and positioning to prevent younger, fresher legs from breezing by him. Verona manager Andrea Mandorlini will look to Marquez to help his club’s defense, which allowed 68 goals in 38 games last season.

Hellas Verona finished in the middle of the Serie A table last season, and adding a seasoned veteran with experience on the world’s biggest stage can help a team in many ways beyond the score line.