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Report: Ajax in negotiations to sign El Tri’s Alvarez

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One of the Mexico National Team’s brightest stars appears to be heading to Ajax, where he could potentially be the replacement for one Matthijs de Ligt.

According to a report in Voetbol International, a publication in the Netherlands, Ajax technical director Marc Overmars confirmed the club’s interest in signing Club America and El Tri defender Edson Alvarez. Club America are reportedly demanding nothing less than nearly $17 million for Alvarez, who has in just two years become a regular for El Tri.

[READ: USMNT’s Boyd signs with Besiktas]

The report states that Wolverhampton Wanderers – which has Alvarez’s El Tri teammate Raul Jimenez – and PSV Eindhoven were also interesting in signing Alvarez.

The 21-year-old made his debut for Club America as a right back under long-time Liga MX manager Ricardo La Volpe in 2016, and just a few months after his club debut, he was already playing for the national team. He was included and featured at the 2017 Gold Cup, becoming Mexico’s youngest scorer in the competition (at age 19) and he then started all four of Mexico’s games at the 2018 World Cup, including against Neymar and Brazil in the Round of 16.

Alvarez has continued his strong play over the past year and has moved into more of a centerback and holding midfielder role at times. He played as a No. 6 for Mexico in its 1-0 win over the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2019 Gold Cup final, at times dropping into the back line to defend while providing support in the attack.

As Alvarez is still young but continues to grow, it’s a perfect time for him to join Ajax. There, he’ll face even better attackers than in Liga MX, and he’ll have a lot of responsibility on his shoulders to play for a prestigious club like Ajax. The pressure to perform will only make him better, like it’s helped countryman Hirving “Chucky” Lozano across the Netherlands at PSV Eindhoven.

Interestingly, Alvarez would be the second summer signing for Ajax with a North American connection. Defender Kik Pierie was actually born in Boston, while his father was studying at Harvard Medical School, though he’s been raised almost entirely in the Netherlands and has featured for the Oranje internationally.

Mexico unveil Gerardo Martino as new head coach

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Mexico officially unveiled Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino as their new head coach Monday, as the Argentine coach finally arrived as El Tri’s new boss after months of rumors.

Martino, 56, announced in October that he would be leaving Atlanta United after leading them in their first two years as a franchise in Major League Soccer. He left ATL in the best way possible, delivering MLS Cup in front of a sell-out crowd of over 73,000 fans.

As for his new gig with Mexico, Martino will be working with a team which is undoubtedly the strongest in the CONCACAF region and is coming off the back of a very decent 2018 World Cup where they got out of a ‘Group of Death’ then pushed Brazil hard but fell in the Round of 16 for the seventh-straight tournament.

Juan Carlos Osorio’s rollercoaster reign ended with that defeat, and El Tri have not had a permanent coach for the past six months with Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti in charge on an interim basis.

Speaking about his appointment, Tata revealed he has a strong squad which can already implement his philosophy and he intends to spend the next few months visiting his players in Mexico and also connecting with many of the El Tri players based in Europe.

“I am thankful for this new project here with the Mexican federation. I am grateful for doing this process respectfully between Atlanta and Mexico. I thank you for being patient… What interests me most is that the team has a strong playing style. That’ll get us closer to where we want to be,” Martino said. “First thing is to visit clubs in Mexico, to connect with the coaches at the clubs… If there is time then we’ll go to Europe. If there isn’t we’ll look to talk to all of the players.”

There is no doubt that Martino was worth the wait, as the former Paraguay and Argentina manager has a wealth of experience at international level, and his resume at Barcelona and top South American clubs such as Newell’s Old Boys speaks for itself.

What he achieved at Atlanta United saw his stock rise rapidly after the tough time he endured at Barca, and the fact he is coaching Mexico instead of the U.S. men’s national team will be tough pill for a lot of USMNT fans to swallow.

Martino was reportedly ruled out of the running to become the new USMNT head coach due to the language barrier, as he does not speak English fluently.

His first two games in charge of Mexico will be on U.S. soil in March, with El Tri playing against Chile in San Diego, CA and Paraguay in Santa Clara, CA. His next big test is the 2019 Gold Cup across the U.S. this summer, as Mexico are the red-hot favorites.

Martino will soon find out that the extreme pressure of Mexico’s fans mean that he will have to deliver success right away.

Atlanta’s Bocanegra responds to Martino to Mexico reports

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Another report claims that Tata Martino will take the Mexican national team job, and puts a date on the start of employment.

David Medrano of Azteca Deportes has the report, saying that Martino will be announced as Mexico boss on Dec. 8 (the date of the MLS Cup Final).

[ MORE: USMNT-Italy to be hosted in Belgium ]

Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra did his best not to comment on the report in a Tuesday radio appearances, saying the Five Stripes have been having “ongoing discussions” with Martino.

From 929thegame.radio.com:

“It’s all good. There’s all kind of rumors, for our coach, for our players, for everything. I guess that means we’re relevant in the soccer world at the moment, which is a good thing. We’ve been having ongoing discussions. We can’t control what goes on in the rumor mill but we’re doing our job. Tata’s our manager, and going forward we’re looking to get into the playoffs with the Supporters’ Shield under our belt and that’s about as much as it is right now.”

As recently as Sept. 28, Martino had said he hadn’t had discussions with anyone outside Atlanta.

He has also been linked with the Colombia job, while several have connected the dots between the USMNT job and Martino‘s expiring contract in ATL.

As for how hard it would be to replace Martino? Bocanegra seems to think it won’t be as difficult as some fear.

“Each coach has a unique style. We have a philosophy and a way of playing as a club. Within that, you try to put people in place that fit that style, fit that philosophy. That’s where Tata fit nicely. Each coach out there will put his own spin on things but it’s the club that has the long-term vision, playing the younger players.”

Wolves’ Jimenez scores game-winner in El Tri comeback victory

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Raul Jimenez may have been a bit jet-lagged from his long trip to Mexico from across the Atlantic Ocean, but he certainly didn’t show it, Thursday evening.

Jimenez scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal, dispatching a penalty kick past Keylor Navas as the Mexican Men’s National Team defeated Costa Rica, 3-2, in comeback style in Monterrey. It was the 27-year-old’s 16th goal for El Tri and Jimenez is beginning to cement his role as the main target man, while higher-profile names such as Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez don’t get call-ups.

[READ: USMNT player ratings. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly]

It was a back and forth affair in a rare friendly match played within Mexico (in Monterrey) but outside of Mexico City. Former Arsenal striker Joel Campbell’s diving header at the far post put Costa Rica up 1-0 but Victor Guzman equalized on a wonderful volley five minutes later into the upper 90. Costa Rica took the lead again through a Bryan Ruiz penalty kick, only for Club America forward Henry Martin to pull his side level, providing Jimenez the opportunity for his heroics in the 71st minute.

The win breaks a streak of four straight defeats for El Tri, and three straight in friendly matches.

For Jimenez, while it’s a penalty kick goal, it should continue to boost his already sky-high confidence. Jimenez has put in multiple Man of the Match-worthy performances in recent weeks, and he’ll have a chance once he returns to England to make a statement again. Wolverhampton has back-to-back matches in late October/early November against Tottenham and Arsenal.

Wolves striker Jimenez headlines young El Tri squad

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Interim Mexico National Team boss has selected a young squad ahead of a rare pair of friendly matches set to be held this month in Mexico. The El Tri selection features a mix of European and domestic-based players, headlined by Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Raul Jimenez and PSV Eindhoven’s Hirving Lozano. But the squad is also noteworthy for who isn’t included.

El Tri regulars Hector Herrera, Javier Aquino, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa, Hector Moreno and Carlos Salcedo were all left off the squad, in addition to the MLS-based big names including Carlos Vela, Giovani Dos Santos and his brother Jonathan. Jonathan Dos Santos was called up for El Tri’s last camp in September but neither Vela (inconsistent play) or Giovani (injuries) have been selected since the World Cup.

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With so many veterans missing, it’s a chance for some fresh blood to rejuvinate the squad. While Club America youngster Diego Lainez was not called up this window, a trio of uncapped players with extensive youth national team experience are in the squad: goalkeepers Gibran Lajud (Club Tijuana) and Raul Gudino (Chivas) and defender Josecarlos Van Rankin (Chivas). Jonathan Gonzalez, after sitting out El Tri’s last match against the U.S. Men’s National Team, is also back in the squad.

Jimenez, who featured for Mexico at the World Cup, has two goals and two assists in seven games for Wolves so far this season, delighting the crowd at the Molineux during matches as the Wolves’ No. 9. Jimenez received Man of the Match honors in his last two matches, a 1-1 draw at Manchester United and a 2-0 win against Southampton.

Mexico hosts Costa Rica on October 13 in Monterrey before facing Chile in Queretaro on October 16.