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This Liga MX star predicted Pachuca would dominate

As Liga MX's biggest star over the last decade, André-Pierre Gignac knows a lot about winning, and he already knew how good Pachuca would be

Andre-Pierré Gignac knows a lot about winning. Since he entered Liga MX in 2015, his club Tigres has won four Liga MX titles, three Campeón de Campeones, a Campeones Cup, and a CONCACAF Champions League. Tigres bowing out to Pachuca in the Liguilla is no knock on his résumé, as Gignac is arguably the most decorated foreigner to ever play in Liga MX.

Gignac coming from a different country makes him an ideal critic of Liga MX. Not burdened by any obligation to play for the national team nor any upbringing surrounded by the Mexican media, Gignac can use his years of experience in Liga MX to form unbiased opinions about Mexican fútbol. And when an interviewer asked him in August about what Mexican fútbol lacks, he didn’t talk about philosophy, or tactics, or personnel. He talked about one team:

@apoyo_a_mexico Quieren parte 2? #gignac #futbolmexicano #ligamx #pachuca #tuzos #seleccionmexicana #andrepierregignac #francoescamilla ♬ sonido original – Apoyo_a_mexico

“El modelo es Pachuca,” the Frenchman said. He continued, saying that Pachuca puts their players in the best position to succeed from the very beginning and that Mexican fútbol needs to develop around that model for players to succeed in Europe and on the international stage. Gignac, arguably the league’s greatest player in the last decade, gave flowers to a team with a bottom-three payroll and even less popularity. It was a bold statement.

But he was right. El modelo es Pachuca, and they just proved it.

The Pachuca model broke through

Pachuca doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on players like Tigres, Club América, or Chivas do. The only teams that spent less money on players this year were Tijuana and Necaxa, who combined have not won a Liga MX title since the 20th century. Pachuca’s highest-paid player, 37-year-old Argentinian defender Gustavo Cabral, doesn’t even land in the top-50 highest-paid Liga MX players.

Instead of money, the Pachuca model relies heavily on player development, and it has succeeded in sending stars like Hector Herrera, Chucky Lozano, and Erick Gutiérrez to Europe. It’s also allowed them to get great value out of young players like Érick Sánchez and Kevin Álvarez before a bigger team snatches them up with a heavy contract. As a result, Pachuca has the seventh-highest market value according to Transfermarkt despite having the youngest team and the third-lowest payroll in the league. That seems like a winning strategy.

Except it hadn’t won very much until this year. Pachuca last won a league title in Clausura 2016, a year where they once again employed the youngest team and spent a bottom-half payroll, but also had future stars like Chucky, Gutiérrez, and Rodolfo Pizarro on the squad. Since then, it’s been a string of missed playoffs and Liguilla heartbreak for Los Tuzos, as is typical for teams in a shortened Liga MX season.

But with a little bit of luck and good timing, Pachuca made up for last season’s disappointment. They are the champions and the future of the league.

What can El Tri learn?

To steal a movie quote, any club that isn’t tearing down their team and rebuilding based off the Pachuca model is a dinosaur. Tigres needs to get younger, Cruz Azul and Chivas need to spend smarter, and Pumas…I don’t even know. But can El Tri learn any lessons from Los Tuzos?

They’ve already started in a way, with three current Pachuca players and three more veterans still on the plane to Qatar. That’s more players than Chivas, Tigres, and Club América has representing the national team. But considering the problems with El Tri, it’s obviously not enough.

In order for El Tri to succeed, Mexico can’t just rely on Pachuca’s academy to develop talent nationally. They need every club in Liga MX to develop young talent, sell their young talent to Europe, and support their players against the best competition in the world. Only then can El Tri compete internationally.

And though it should take some work, the blueprint is already there. Gignac already knows: El modelo es Pachuca.