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Guardiola, Xavi laud Marquez's 'spectacular career'

Mexico
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Marquez takes director role with Liga MX's Atlas

Atlas
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 By Tom Marshall

Rafa Marquez: Atlas DNA similar to that of Barcelona

New Atlas sporting president Rafa Marquez wants his club to follow the Barcelona model.

Marquez was formally presented in his new position at his first club Atlas on Tuesday, just weeks after the 39-year-old captained Mexico at his fifth World Cup.

"I'm thankful for the trust placed in me," said Marquez in a news conference. "I'm starting a new stage with the team in which I took my first steps [as a pro] and in which I finished my career.

"It's a team I love and there is a lot of responsibility.

"We'll keep promoting beautiful football like Barca's, where I played and learned a lot, because the DNAs of Atlas and Barcelona are similar.

"I want to have a competitive team where the results are consistently positive, where we can maintain a balance for a long time and obviously compete for that longed-for title."

Marquez will be given full control over the sporting side of the institution, said club president Gustavo Guzman, and takes over a team with just one point from its first three Liga MX games in the 2018 Apertura and which hasn't won a league title since 1951.

"It'd be easy to have been an analyst to criticize or point out [things], but I'm working again in football, trying to improve our Mexican game starting with Atlas," said Marquez. "I'm rolling up my sleeves to get to work. I took time to reflect on this proposal, but today I'm committed to Mexican football and my country and trying to help it. That's why I accepted this challenge."

Marquez said he wants Atlas to imitate the formula the club had under Ricardo La Volpe, in which the institution reached the final of the 1999 Verano tournament with largely a young side.

"Today they still talk about that team, which reached a final and even though we didn't win defined an era," said Marquez. "That's what I'm banking on, trying to produce players, which is this club's philosophy, and trying to make them better each day so they can make the first team."

Marquez's name was included on a list of 22 people sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department almost exactly one year ago, but a report this week in El Financiero suggested that the former Monaco player has had his bank accounts in Mexico unfrozen and can go about his business as normal in Mexico.

Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.

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