The biggest challenges facing Mexico's Europeos ahead of the 2017-18 season

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio laid down a challenge to his players after the Confederations Cup in Russia earlier this summer. The Colombian told each one of his 23-man squad to do everything possible to play at least 10 "high-level" games in the year leading up to the World Cup.

At least in the manner Osorio told the press about the challenge, it was a slightly ambiguous. What constitutes a "high-level" game, anyway? But the underlying message wasn't complicated: Mexico needs its players to be in the best competition possible, in form and getting minutes ahead of Russia 2018.

And while Mexico's summer trials and tribulations in the Confederations Cup and Gold Cup could be analyzed on many levels, it left one important lesson: No matter how you do the math, Mexico's most important players are in Europe, with only a couple of exceptions. And this season is historic, with more Mexicans in Europe's top leagues than ever.

With that in mind as seasons in various leagues in Europe are getting underway, here's a look at the challenges facing each of the Mexicans on the Old Continent:

Hector Moreno | Roma | Serie A (Italy)

The 29-year-old is the leader of the Mexican national team's defense and deserved the move to last season's Serie A runners-up, Roma, in the offseason. Playing in Italy will be a challenge for Moreno, as will earning a starting place.The Sinaloa native faces stiff competition from fellow left-footer Juan for a place at the heart of Eusebio Di Francesco's defense.

Andres Guardado | Real Betis | La Liga (Spain)

Like Moreno, Guardado also exited PSV over the summer. The Mexico midfielder went back to La Liga to join Betis and will be aiming to become an important player for the Andalusian side. He certainly has the experience and versatility to succeed.

Carlos Vela | Real Sociedad | La Liga (Spain)

Having just secured a move to MLS with expansion side LAFC, Vela will stay with Real Sociedad until January. Mexico fans would love to see him recapture the form of 2013-14, which saw him nominated as one of La Liga's top three forwards, ahead of Lionel Messi. This is a huge season for the inconsistent left-footed forward.

Hirving Lozano | PSV | Eredivisie (Netherlands)

Lozano is the only Mexico national team player so far this summer to make the jump to Europe. The Eredivisie isn't one of Europe's leading leagues, but with PSV desperate to make up for a poor last season and their premature exit to Osijek in the Europa League qualifiers, Lozano will have to settle quickly, with the likes of Gaston Pereiro and Steven Bergwijn also options for coach Phillip Cocu.

Raul Jimenez | Benfica | Primeira Liga (Portugal)

While you never really know for sure until the transfer deadline officially closes, Jimenez's celebration after scoring for Benfica in the Supercopa de Portugal suggests he'll be staying at the club. His career at the Portuguese club has been underwhelming so far. Now 26, if he can't earn a starting place this season, there will be serious concerns about just how far Jimenez can go in Europe, after already failing to impress at Atletico Madrid.

Diego Reyes | Porto | Primeira Liga (Portugal)

Real Sociedad? Back to Espanyol? Reyes shouldn't be short of options after impressing in La Liga last season, but he could do with sorting his future out as soon as possible, with his departure from Porto in the balance. The former Club America defender is on the brink of being a regular starter with El Tri -- partly due to his versatility -- and a good season would be a huge push.

Miguel Layun | Porto | Primeira Liga (Portugal)

Another Mexican still unassured about his place next season at Porto. Zenit St Petersburg have been linked with Layun, as have clubs in Mexico. At national team level, there is nobody near Layun in the full-back positions, meaning his final destination is of vital importance to Osorio's plans.

Hector Herrera | Porto | Primeira Liga (Portugal)

It could be the defining season in Herrera's career. Is this the year he finally dominates for Porto? Play well for his club and then at the World Cup and a move to a big club in one of the best leagues will be on. If Herrera doesn't, it could be a symptom of his career stagnating in Europe. A positive sign is that the midfielder was good in the Confederations Cup.

Jesus "Tecatito" Corona | Porto | Primeira Liga (Portugal)

"Tecatito" has the potential to be Mexico's next star, despite exiling himself from summer action with El Tri in slightly strange circumstances. And he shows brilliance in flashes. The goal for this season has to be to break out as one of the undisputed best younger players in Portugal's top division and take that momentum into the World Cup.

Raul Gudino | Porto | Primeira Liga (Portugal)

Playing backup to Iker Casillas isn't a bad place to be, although the Guadalajara native may be tempted if a loan deal comes up between now and the end of the month.

Antonio Briseno | Feirense | Primeira Liga (Portugal)

Mexico's Under-17 World Cup-winning captain back in 2011, Briseno struggled for minutes with Tigres and was played out of position at left-back while on loan at Veracruz. The 23-year-old defender now has a huge opportunity in Portugal to fulfill his early-career hype.

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez | West Ham United | Premier League (England)

It's obvious Hernandez was brought to West Ham to provide goals. But on a personal level, the ideal would be to establish himself to such a degree with the Hammers that it is his days with West Ham that define his career in the Premier League, rather than the first stint at Manchester United. That won't be easy, but should be the aim for a 29-year-old who is still in his prime.

Guillermo Ochoa | Standard Liege | Belgian Pro League

After either fighting for minutes or relegation in recent years, Ochoa now has the opportunity to win silverware. The Belgian league isn't the best in Europe, but Ochoa is paving the way as Mexico's first goalkeeping export.

Omar Govea | Mouscron | Belgian Pro League

The 21-year-old central midfielder already has two seasons in Portugal's second division under his belt and has started for Mouscron early on in this campaign. The loan deal from Porto is ideal and a top season in Belgium can put him on Osorio's radar, even if it is hasty to suggest he has a realistic chance of making the World Cup.

Marco Fabian | Eintracht Frankfurt | Bundesliga (Germany)

Fabian has proved the doubters wrong in Germany, ditching his party boy image and impressing on the field. Another good season for Eintracht Frankfurt and Fabian can push for a starting spot under Osorio at the World Cup, especially with Jonathan dos Santos now in MLS. In what is a huge season for Fabian, a two-month spell on the sidelines for a back injury is not a good start.

Carlos Salcedo | Eintracht Frankfurt | Bundesliga (Germany)

Another league for the injured Salcedo, but the 23-year-old has the wherewithal to adapt and shore up his place at right-back with Mexico. He was brought in by Eintracht based not only on his career with El Tri, but also from what he showed at Fiorentina last season.

Carlos Pena | Rangers | Scottish Premiership

It'll be fascinating to see how Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha uses Pena. He has the potential to be a top player in the Scottish first division, but may take time to adapt. Pena should be looking to prove himself and given Osorio's preference for physical players, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that he could make a run at the World Cup squad.

Eduardo Herrera | Rangers | Scottish Premiership

Already starting games for Rangers, Herrera has taken a chance by going to Scotland and looks to have settled in well. Banging in goals will be the challenge for a striker who didn't have a great record in Mexico. Still, the depth at striker with the national team isn't great.