The 18-year-old has moved from Club America to the Spanish side on a deal reportedly worth $14 million
Another young Mexico national team player is heading to Europe.
Club America winger Diego Lainez is flying to Madrid with Real Betis’ sporting vice president Lorenzo Serra Ferrer who was in Mexico City to work out a deal with America and the 18-year-old.
“Club America would like to thank Diego for the commitment and dedication that he showed during his years at our club, for the happiness that he gave to our fan base and for fulfilling the dream of being a champion with this team,” the club wrote in a news release.
Terms of the deal were not announced but media reports indicated the Spanish club paid a $14 million (£11m/€12m) fee for Lainez with America retaining 20 percent of his sell-on value. Lainez’s deal with Betis will run until 2024.
Ajax also had made an offer to America in the winter but given the choice by the club, Lainez elected to join countryman Andres Guardado with Betis rather than moving to the Netherlands. The first significant offers for Lainez arrived in the summer of 2018 after his standout showing at the Toulon Tournament. Lyon and other European teams made bids but were put off by the large fee America was demanding for the player.
After several youth call-ups, Lainez got his first minutes with the senior national team in September 2018. He took part in contests against Uruguay and the United States, impressing in his time on the pitch with El Tri.
The left-footed winger made his debut in league play in 2017, entering America’s starting lineup after the club realized the player former Aguilas boss Ricardo La Volpe intended to start against Cruz Azul wasn’t registered to play in first-team matches. However, it was a long-awaited debut for America fans who watched the Tabasco native impress with the club’s youth teams.
Once he made his debut, he continued to earn minutes under La Volpe and Miguel Herrera, the manager’s successor in the capital. While Herrera used a cautious approach with the young player, Lainez ended the tournament as a regular in Herrera’s starting lineup as America lifted the 2018 Apertura title in December.
That provided not only the first major trophy of Lainez’s career but also a chance for a storybook goodbye.
“It’s my dream,” he said in December when asked about moving to a European league. “That’s what the directors are looking at. My dream is very close. Hopefully it comes together.”
Now that the move has happened, Lainez will need to work to earn minutes from manager Quique Setien.
He becomes the fourth Mexican to play in La Liga this season along with Guardado, Hector Moreno, Miguel Layun and Nestor Araujo.