by GIANFRANCO PANIZO
There's no place like home.
Mexican midfielder Pavel Pardo is the latest poster boy for that notion. The 32-year-old recently inked a deal with Mexican club America, where he played from 1999-2006, from German Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart.
Pardo, who's scored 10 goals for 'El Tricolor', left America for the Bundesliga following the 2006 World Cup. It didn't take long for Pardo to flourish in Germany.
In his first season, Pardo played a vital role in Stuttgart's Bundesliga championship, the club's third league title and first since 1992. In his sophomore season with Stuttgart, the defending champions finished disappointingly in 6th place. Though the team failed to contend for the Bundesliga crown, finishing 24 points behind winners Bayern Munich, Pardo become a mainstay with the club.
But after two solid seasons with Stuttgart, a coaching change and poor form saw Pardo lose his starting role on the team in 2008. With the lack of playing time he was receiving, it came as no surprise that Pardo put pen to paper with his former club earlier this month. Mexican media reported that America had bought back the World Cup veteran for $4 million.
However, Pardo is not the only European-based Mexican who has recently eyed a move back home. In what appears to be becoming more of a trend, Mexican players seem willing to head back to their native land if it means finding more minutes on the field.
Earlier this year, Omar Bravo and troubled Mexican Nery Castillo were linked to moves back home. Bravo, who just joined Deportivo La Coruna in May, was linked to a move to Santos Laguna due to his lack of playing time with the Spanish club. Castillo, on the other hand, had more than just rumors surfacing, he was actually denied a loan opportunity to head from Manchester City to Guadalajara.
"Nery spoke to Nestor (de la Torre, Guadalajara president) and confirmed he would like to move back home soon. But we have to analyze every offer," said Castillo's agent, Juan Carlos Padilla to soccernet.com back in October.
So why the sudden trend? Well, you could chalk it up to two reasons. The first is obviously the comfortability of playing at home in familiar territory and not having to adjust to a new climate, language and lifestyle. The second, Mexico's Primera Division is a strong technical league where many talented players, including the majority of the Mexican National Team players, ply their trade.
Now this trend does not mean that Mexicans will go extinct in Europe, it just means that you can expect more players to return to Mexico rather than play for division-two teams if they completely fall out of favor with their European clubs.
Besides, solid showings in the strong Mexican league can always reward players with more European interest, just ask Pavel Pardo.
What do you think of this story? Is it a trend? Do you think MLS can ever get to the level of the Primera Division and keep more of its players? Think Mexican players are better off in Europe?
Share your thoughts below.