Italian side Hellas Verona could have pulled of a major transfer coup with the acquisition of Mexican veteran Rafael Marquez.
The 35-year-old, who was a crucial part of the Barcelona sides that won the Champions League in 2006 and 2009, returns to Europe having been plying his trade with Leon back in his native homeland after being released by New York Red Bulls in 2012.
After turning down offers from major European clubs including Juventus after leaving the MLS, the Mexican could now make a huge impact in the division at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi.
Verona offered former Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni a return to Serie A last season and the Italian’s experience proved key as they finished in the top half of the table having just been promoted from Serie B one year previously.
Marquez’s knowledge of playing on the grandest stages of them all could prove pivotal in ensuring that they maintain their top-flight status for yet another season, especially with the plethora of talent that Serie A possesses.
His best days have been and gone, but with the financial dependency on remaining in the top division at an all-time high the need for weathered reinforcements has never been higher.
Marquez signs on having spent the majority of his career participating at the highest level.
His time over in Spain at the Nou Camp yielded plenty of silverware, and saw him form a solid partnership with club captain Carlos Puyol prior to the arrival of Spaniard Gerard Pique from Manchester United that proved so crucial in Barcelona’s rise to the top of the European scene.
His no nonsense, combative style saw him make plenty of enemies during his time in Catalonia, whilst in spite of his age he remains the captain of the Mexico national team and oversaw their run to the last 16 at the World Cup in Brazil this summer.
Despite struggling in America he boasts a CV impressive enough to suggest that magic could still remain and he could take Serie A by storm by keeping Verona in the division for another year.
Serie A retirement home
Marquez signing on means the 35-year-old becomes the latest in a long line of ‘golden oldies’ to grace the division.
38-year-old Mario Yepes continues to lead by example at Atalanta, whilst Italian duo Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo continue to churn out masterful performances at Juventus.
Serie A is now the league where older players come to finish their careers, which speaks volumes about its popularity in spite of the global dominance of the Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga.
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