Argentine-born Rogelio Funes Mori has had such an impact in Mexican soccer that he earned a spot in El Tri's senior team to face the Gold Cup 2021. Mexico coach, Gerardo Martino has chosen Monterrey's striker over a big-name player such as Chicharito Hernández.
The former River Plate player has become one of the greatest players in Rayados' history, amassing 121 goals that place him as the club's leading goalscorer alongside Humberto Suazo.
Funes Mori has been a complete standout since joining Liga MX, finding the net consistently every season. With a difficult outlook for Martino ahead of the Gold Cup, he decided to call up the 30-year-old, who has recently become eligible for Mexico's senior team.
Why is Rogelio Funes Mori allowed to represent Mexico in the 2021 Gold Cup?
This possibility has been discussed for a while over the last few years since Funes Mori's chances of being called up to Argentina seemed to be zero. Unlike his twin Ramiro, who played for the likes of Everton and Villarreal, Rogelio never seemed to be in consideration for La Albiceleste.
Meanwhile, he kept on impressing in Mexican soccer and established himself as one of the most prolific forwards in Monterrey's history. And only a few months before the 2021 Gold Cup, Martino realized he needed a dependable striker. Chicharito has been left out for a long time, while the likes of Alan Pulido and Henry Martín have failed to perform as expected lately. Martino also tried with Hirving Lozano leading the attack, but he isn't an outright No. 9.
Funes Mori has been uneligible for Mexico for a while due to FIFA rules. He has previously played for Argentina youth teams and has also taken part in one international friendly in 2012. The soccer governing body only allowed a switch to another national team to those players who have lived at least five years in the country he naturalizes for after turning 18 and who haven't represented another country unless they were holding the other citizenship while playing those matches.
However, FIFA changed the rules in 2020. From then on, a player would only be restricted to play for one national team if he had three caps or more after turning 21. This new rule no longer tied Funes Mori to Argentina as he had only one cap with the senior team and it didn't even count for being a friendly.
Therefore, the Monterrey striker qualified to make the switch, having lived five years in Mexico. The next step for him was to get the Mexican citizenship and wait for FIFA to approve the switch. He has done everything against the clock in order to make it to Mexico's Gold Cup 2021 roster. Now that he is on board, Rogelio Funes Mori might become Martino's first option for Mexico's attack in the upcoming tournament.