As Rafa Marquez officially retires, who will take his place for Mexico?
Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared on ESPN Mexico and has been translated for FC.
GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Now that Rafael Marquez has officially retired from Mexican football, he leaves a huge void for club and country to fill. However, several players are ready and willing to take on such a high responsibility.
We present a list of players who, based on their skills, play, career, sense of honor and physical abilities, could arguably get in the mix to become his natural successor at centre-back for the Mexican national team.
Cesar Montes, Monterrey
Montes, nicknamed "El Cachorro" ("The Cub"), comes from the Monterrey development system. Though just 21 years old, he also a player with enough maturity to play at the most demanding competitions. At such a young age he has already been tipped as a bonafide option for first-rate Mexican football teams after some consistently outstanding performances.
Thanks to coach Antonio Mohamed, Montes' potential seems limitless. Playing alongside the experienced Jose Maria Basanta has been useful to him, giving him an example to look up to. The Hermosillo-born player is poised as a future Mexican export to Europe, too; therefore he could be a strong option to replace Marquez in defense.
Hector Moreno, Real Sociedad
The Culiacan-born player could very well have the upper hand when it comes to following in Marquez's footsteps. The 30-year-old has built an impressive resume since becoming a pro, including playing in Europe for over a decade. Therefore, he has enough experience to take on the challenge.
He actually playing time with Marquez during Mexico's World Cup qualifiers, the other half of a duo among the very best we've seen in this El Tri generation. Moreno is currently trying to regain his highest level playing in Spain for Real Sociedad, aiming to get to Russia with the required skills to be able to match the high demands needed to compete in football's top international competition.
Edson Alvarez, Club America
The America youngster is still undoubtedly a work in progress. Alvarez has shown plenty of upside in his performance at international tournaments with El Tri, with enough things in his play to remind us of Marquez under former Mexico manager Ricardo La Volpe. It doesn't surprise us, then, that "El Bigoton" gave Alvarez the chance to play in Liga MX's first division, displaying his class in Mexican soccer's most demanding tournament.
While Alvarez is still in the development stages of his career, he certainly has shown enough to be considered a solid alternative for El Tri in the not-so-distant future.
Antonio Briseno, Feirense
Briseno is yet another young Mexican defender who has shown serious potential. His relentlessness and drive made him pursue opportunities in Portuguese soccer after doors in Mexico closed to him. He's now playing in the Liga de Ascenso. Just like Marquez, Briseno -- nicknamed "El Pollo" ("Chicken") -- is an Atlas prospect. He has skills similar to Marquez when it comes to the high-ball game and with the ball at his feet.