Mexican international goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa is nearing a move to La Liga side Malaga, according to Spanish newspaper AS. The 29-year-old is a free-agent, after leaving Ligue 1 side Ajaccio, and will qualify for a European passport by the end of the summer, crucially meaning he won't take up an allocated foreign player spot in the Malaga squad.
Ochoa spent three years at Ligue 1 side AC Ajaccio, joining from Mexican side América in 2011, building a reputation as a talented, if somewhat eccentric goalkeeper. The Mexican, capped sixty-three times by his nation, only missed two league games in his entire Ajaccio career, however he was ultimately unable to save the Corsican side from the ignominy of relegation to Ligue 2 in his last year with the club.
His crowning performance for L'ours came in the Parc des Princes, against a rampant Paris Saint Germain side containing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edison Cavani and Luca Moura. Ochoa saved twelve of the thirty-nine shots that came his way, including an exceptional point-blank header to deny Marco Verratti, as Ajaccio somehow managed to cling onto a point.
The World Cup
In Brazil, Ochoa's performances for Mexico, who escaped a tough group containing the hosts, Croatia and Cameroon, established the 29-year-old as one of the keepers of the tournament. Ochoa's stock rose significantly after a shut-out against Brazil, in which he pulled off a Gordon Banks style save to deny a Neymar header. Ochoa conceded just three goals as Mexico reached the second round, agonisingly losing to the Netherlands via two late goals, although Ochoa himself was named as the man-of-the-match.
The Mexican keeper is famed for his eccentricity both on and off the pitch. His goalkeeping style is very much all-action, often deciding to punch and parry rather than hold onto the ball. This can get him in trouble, although when he gets it right the results are eye-catching.
Off the pitch, Ochoa is somewhat of a celebrity in his home country, owing to his relationship with Mexican actress Dulce Maria. He was also accused, and subsequently cleared, of using a banned substance during the 2011 Gold Cup.
Malaga have pulled off something of a coup if they do sign Ochoa, who at twenty-nine still arguably has his best years ahead of him. He will be an able replacement for Willy Caballero, who's move to Manchester City has left Carlos Kameni as the only keeper in the squad.
Malaga supporters should look forward to the arrival of 'Memo', as when it comes to free-transfers, there won't be many better in Europe this summer.