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Rafa Marquez set to join Italian side Hellas Verona

Aug 4, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

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At 35 years old and coming off of his fourth World Cup, Rafael Marquez has decided to return to top-flight European football.

Marquez was once one of the top defenders in the world, playing in France before racking up over 160 appearances for Spanish giants Barcelona. Still in strong form, Marquez left Europe to join the New York Red Bulls of the MLS in 2010. However, his stint in New York was disappointing and Marquez himself admitted coming to America was “a bad decision.”

He then returned to his native Mexico, leading Leon to back-to-back Liga MX titles. After captaining Mexico for a record fourth World Cup in Brazil, it seemed as if Marquez’s storied career was coming to an end.

Almost 20 years into his professional career, Marquez no longer has the pace to keep up with the top strikers in Europe, which was seen during his play in the World Cup. He instead relies on his experience and positioning to prevent younger, fresher legs from breezing by him. Verona manager Andrea Mandorlini will look to Marquez to help his club’s defense, which allowed 68 goals in 38 games last season.

Hellas Verona finished in the middle of the Serie A table last season, and adding a seasoned veteran with experience on the world’s biggest stage can help a team in many ways beyond the score line.

  1. bruiserbrigade - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    I think it’s a good signing. Rafa Marquez was definitely a key cog for Mexico’s great defensive showing in the World Cup. And For a side looking for organization and toughness in their back four, the only player to captain a national team in 4 World Cups, is a logical choice.

    Speaking of, Hellas Verona does run a 4-3-3, which don’t be surprised if Marquez makes better on counter attacks. He’s got a great longball and vision. He initiated attacks for Mexico in the similar 3-5-2, and even going back to his FC Barça days (also 4-3-3), he would act as an escape valve for his teammates with great passing from the back.

    If it wasn’t for a few goals, Verona might have made the champions league. You gotta think Marquez was an immediate target after signing him right under Lazio’s nose.

  2. drewvt6 - Aug 4, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    Can we start a pool and place bets on the first date he kicks/punches/slaps an opponent?

    • mikeevergreen - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      You mean punch/head butt. He can’t get his foot that high anymore. Welcome to Italia, “Red Card Ralphie!”

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