Moreno, Layun deals the big positive for Mexico in transfer window
SAN ANTONIO, Tex. -- Mexico's 1-0 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday was Juan Carlos Osorio's last true chance to experiment ahead of the World Cup given it was a Liga MX and MLS-based squad in a non-FIFA international date.
The Colombian will have made his conclusions after Hugo Ayala's 65th minute strike secured victory, but nothing we saw altered the importance of El Tri's European legion to the team's chances of success at Russia 2018. In that sense, it was actually events in the European transfer market that arguably held more importance for the team in the short-term than its midweek game against Bosnia.
Overall, it was a good transfer window for Mexicans. Osorio had lamented the lack of playing time for key national team players earlier in January and as the final days of the window approached it looked as though there would be no Mexicans on the move.
That changed swiftly with the confirmation on Tuesday that Miguel Layun had signed for Sevilla from Porto. Then a chain of events sparked by Manchester City signing Aymeric Laporte led to Hector Moreno moving from Roma to Real Sociedad in a permanent deal.
Neither full-back Layun nor center-back Moreno were regulars at their clubs despite being essential pieces of the Mexican back-line. It's no wonder Osorio is delighted.
"We are very happy about Miguel Layun and Hector Moreno and hopefully the vast majority of players can play to give us the chance to take the best to the World Cup," said Osorio after Mexico's win on Wednesday.
Layun and Moreno weren't at their best for Mexico in the November friendlies, which served as a reminder that the players need to be in rhythm and confident when traveling to national team meet-ups, something that can only come from regular playing time.
That should now be the case come the March preparation games. Layun will be battling it out with Jesus Navas for the right-back spot at Sevilla but given the club made the effort to swoop and sign the former Club America player from under rival Real Betis' noses, it stands to reason that manager Vincenzo Montella must be planning to use him. That and Navas has played further forward for most of his career. It is a dream move for Layun, who had stagnated at Porto, providing he hits the ground running and can earn that start.
Moreno should have no problems at Real Sociedad. The former Pumas player is the leader of the Mexico defense and a vital left-footed cog in Osorio's side. He struggled at Roma and was given minimal chances by coach Eusebio Di Francesco.
At Real Sociedad, Moreno will be a like-for-like replacement for Inigo Martinez, who moved to Athletic Bilbao to step in for Laporte. Moreno knows La Liga from his time with Espanyol and should be able to make an immediate impact, with Osorio pointing out on Tuesday that Moreno is in good shape despite not playing much. It's also worth highlighting that the way both players pushed through the moves shows how important it is for them to come in Russia 2018 in form.
There was less positive news for Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Raul Jimenez.
There were suggestions that Hernandez wanted out of David Moyes' West Ham, but January injuries to Marko Arnautovic, Andy Carroll and Manuel Lanzini meant the club was unlikely to let the striker leave.
Hernandez has started West Ham's last two games but he'll need to make an impact in the next couple of weeks to hold his place when the injured players start to come back.
The other worry has been Jimenez, who has just one league start for Benfica this season. He just can't seem to find a way past Jonas for the start -- in large part due to 33-year-old's 24 games in 20 games this season -- and is battling it out with Switzerland international Haris Seferovic to be Jonas' back-up.
Overall, though, this was a satisfying few days for Mexico. A 1-0 win started 2018 on the right foot and at least two key players have made moves that should benefit both them and, by extension, El Tri.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.