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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Vancouver Whitecaps finish signing of Mexico's Efrain Juarez

Efrain Juarez and Rubens Sambueza
Efrain Juarez can play at right-back or in a holding midfield role.

The Vancouver Whitecaps completed the signing of former Mexico international Efrain Juarez from Liga MX side Monterrey on Thursday.

The 2010 World Cup veteran signed a two-year contract with a club option for a third season. The Whitecaps will use targeted allocation money to complete the signing.

Juarez has previously played at right-back, but Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson said he expects the 29-year-old to slot in the center of their midfield.

"We are very excited to add Efrain to our group," Robinson said. "He's an extremely talented player who has experience at the highest level, can play multiple positions, and fits the character type we want at our club.

"Efrain's preferred position is in the middle of the park and that's where I expect him to play the majority of minutes for us. We firmly believe in Efrain's technical ability, grit, and leadership qualities and we look forward to seeing him with our group."

Juarez told ESPN last week that the Whitecaps had made him feel as wanted as Philippe Coutinho in Barcelona, where Juarez spent two years in the famed club's La Masia academy.

"I spoke to the coach [Carl Robinson] and told him that I honestly felt like Coutinho, as if I'd signed for Barcelona or Real Madrid," the former Celtic player said on ESPN Radio Formula.

"I'm going to an important team, a team that is growing like the whole league and the interest they showed me from the first contact honestly made me feel like Coutinho, very important.

"Living in Canada is exciting for me, as well as for my wife and my son. And obviously playing [is important]. The last season with Rayados I didn't have the regularity and continuity and the [Vancouver] coach showed interest, which was important for me. Everything came together to make this a reality."

Juarez was part of Mexico's "Golden Generation" of players -- along with Giovani dos Santos, Carlos Vela and Hector Moreno -- that lifted the 2005 Under-17 World Cup.

After the 2010 World Cup, Juarez signed for Celtic, who loaned him out in 2011 to Real Zaragoza. Juarez returned to Mexico with Club America in 2012 before switching to Monterrey in 2014. The two-time Liga MX champion has 39 caps for Mexico, but hasn't featured since 2012.

A day earlier, the Whitecaps announced that midfielder Andrew Jacobson has retired following a 10-year career in MLS, and that Sporting Lisbon has signed Fredy Montero, who spend last season in Vancouver on loan from Chinese club Tianjin TEDA.

Christian Bolanos will return to Costa Rican club Deportivo Saprissa, while new contract talks with Nosa Igiebor fell through.

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