Mexicans abroad: Nestor Araujo clinches Europeo of the Week award
A long list of the top talents in Mexican soccer are making names for themselves in clubs abroad. With several key figures playing week in and week out in a number of top European leagues, keeping track of all the high-profile stars can at times be daunting.
In order to help keep tabs on those across the Atlantic, we've created a weekly award that will be given to the most outstanding player. Along with a few honorable mentions -- and a "dishonorable mention" prize -- here are the noteworthy performances from Mexican players in Europe last week.
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Europeo of the Week: Nestor Araujo, DF, Celta Vigo (Spain)
It's much more than just the goals. Although Araujo should deservedly claim the latest award after recently scoring his third La Liga goal in 2019, what truly sets the 27-year-old apart from his fellow Mexican defenders in Europe is his stable role in Celta Vigo's starting XI. With more starts in the 2018-19 season than Diego Reyes or Hector Moreno, Araujo currently stands out from most of his peers as a key figure for his Spanish club.
Granted, Celta Vigo have run into problems of their own over the last few months.
A spot at 16th in the league table is far from ideal for the team that once finished in 6th a few seasons back. Relegation has now also become a serious threat. With only a one point lead over 18th-placed Rayo Vallecano, Celta Vigo now have little-to-no room for mistakes in their remaining matches.
Nonetheless, Araujo seems to have found a solidified place within the roster. Even after Antonio Mohamed was dropped as manager last year, Araujo maintained his starting spot in the backline. Personal success -- amid potential disaster for his club -- has so far been the theme for the central defender. For example, during last week's 3-1 loss to Getafe, Araujo not only scored the lone goal, but also finished with more completed passes than all but one teammate.
By the way, for those keeping track of scoring tallies in 2019, Araujo currently has the same number of goals in La Liga as Raul Jimenez with Wolves in the EPL this year (3) and has more than Javier Hernandez with West Ham (0).
Honorable Mention: Hector Herrera, MF, Porto (Portugal)
The team captain has once again emerged with another clutch moment. During last Friday's away game against Moreirense, Porto found themselves chasing a 1-0 deficit in the final stages of the match. Just when it looked like the Portuguese giants defeats would have to accept defeat, Herrera stepped up with a late equalizer in the 92nd minute that helped salvage a point in the eventual 1-1 draw.
Of course, when discussing the central midfielder, the idea of a potential move this summer has recently become a major talking point. If you believe the rumors, Ligue 1's Lyon has now joined the list of potential suitors that also includes the likes of Tottenham, Inter Milan and Napoli.
Honorable Mention: Diego Reyes, DF, Leganes (Spain)
Credit must be given to Reyes. Lost on the bench of a struggling Fenerbahce squad in Turkey, the 26-year-old appeared destined to remain without very many minutes for the rest of the season. When the news of a loan to La Liga's Leganes emerged in late January, it was met with a quiet response from the Mexican soccer community that didn't expect much from the lanky defender. Whether Reyes would even earn minutes for his new club, was a genuine worry as well.
And yet, after recently arriving, the defender has already made two immediate appearances. Three days after being presented by the club, Reyes made his debut in the 79th minute of last Monday's 2-1 away win over Rayo Vallecano. On Sunday, he was once again brought on off the bench in the 3-0 victory against Real Betis. Playing almost as a fullback, Reyes looked surprisingly comfortable distributing the ball on the right flank.
Dishonorable Mention: Antonio Briseno, DF, Feirense (Portugal)
In a desperate battle to avoid relegation, the last thing that Feirense needed was an own-goal from Briseno. During last week's 3-1 loss at home to Sporting, the Mexican defender opened up the scoresheet with an own-goal in the 44th minute of the loss. Following the defeat, Feirense have remained at the very bottom of the Primeira Liga table with only 14 points in 21 games.