In what very much looks to be a landmark moment for Liga MX, 29-year-old Andre-Pierre Gignac has snubbed reported interest from the Premier League and elsewhere in his native France in order to join Mexican side Tigres.
[ MORE: Thursday’s transfer rumor roundup ]
Gignac, who scored 21 league goals for Marseille during the 2014-15 season (Ligue 1’s second-highest scorer, ahead of both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani), will reportedly earn an annual salary of $4.5 million while at Tigres, and on Thursday he received a hero’s welcome at the airport in Monterrey just hours after his signing was announced.
Not every player is capable — abilities aside, but in terms of personality and mentality — of bucking standard logic and making the Europe-to-North America jump at such an early, still-productive point in their career. The idea of bona fide stars taking their talents to another continent while still in the primes of their careers requires a certain type of person: one who craves — and thrives on — individual prominence and notoriety just as much as the elite competition and shared status of Europe’s top leagues.
When Sebastian Giovinco made his move from Juventus to Toronto FC this winter, it signaled a turning point that not only had a well-known, respected and extraordinarily gifted player would choose to come to MLS at the tender age of 28, but that this was the type of player ambitious MLS teams now chased. Giovinco has already proven a worthwhile investment ($7 million per year) for TFC (7 goals and 6 assists in his first 12 games).
Liga MX has long been home to some of South America’s “other” top talent that either never made it to or caught on in Europe, and that’s served the league very well in competitions like Copa Libertadores and the CONCACAF Champions League. With the arrival of Gignac — and the doors his signing of undoubtedly opens — the sky is the limit for some of Mexico’s most deep-pocketed — and, more importantly, salary cap-less — teams in this ongoing North American arms race.