Mexico's Tata Martino: Liga MX foreigner rule hinders development

MEXICO CITY -- Mexico head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino has stressed that foreigner rules in Liga MX must be changed in order to clear the path to first team soccer for those coming through El Tri's successful youth team programs.

Mexico finished runner-up in the Under-17 on Sunday, as Brazil stormed to a late 2-1 victory, but with three U-17 World Cup finals in eights years for El Tri, Martino believes that nine non-homegrown players per 18-man match day squad in Liga MX games is too much.

The former Barcelona boss -- who is from Argentina -- said he will be talking to Liga MX owners in an attempt to get them to see the national team's point of view.

"The football people with whom I've talked -- coaches, footballers, ex-footballers -- are in agreement that the number of foreigners is excessive," said Martino in a news conference. "But then there is the other part, the business. I've always said that the business has to be looked after, but so does the sporting aspect, so we have to look for the middle ground."

Martino contrasted the greater opportunities young Argentines have to play in his homeland's first division compared to Liga MX.

"I'm not an expert in youth national teams, but what happens in Argentina is that the Under-17s are playing in the first team within a year ... I debuted at 17," added Martino. "It's about the players developing in the clubs, but then, in the right moment, those with the necessary quality moving to the first team."

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Martino also gave his opinion on LA Galaxy youngster Efrain Alvarez, who had a good U-17 World Cup overall with four goals, but was left out of the starting XI for the semifinal against the Netherlands and came in for criticism in Mexico when his Panenka penalty was saved in the shoot-out, after he'd come on.

"Efrain is no more and no less than a boy of 17, with lots to learn, just like the rest," stated Martino. "It's our responsibility to correct situations that he may have in his personal or sporting life ... I think we focus on Efrain because he is the best known player in the group and because he's a footballer of 17 years playing for the LA Galaxy first team, as well as because of his footballing ability."

Mexico faces Bermuda in Toluca on Tuesday in its final CONCACAF Nations League group stage game, with Martino expected to name a young side, given Mexico is already qualified to next June's semifinals.