It is rare for a player to be capped at an international level before playing in his club’s first team. However, Arsenal’s Marcelo Flores is one of the few exceptions.
The highly regarded attacking midfielder was eligible to play for Canada after being born in Georgetown, Ontario. Due to his mother’s English ancestry, he was also of interest to England, who called him up for the under-16 lineup in 2019.
But after months of speculation, Flores, the son of former Mexican player Ruben, rejected both countries in favor of Mexico.
Arsenal forward Marcelo Flores chose to represent Mexico, ahead of Canada and England
In a lengthy statement he released on social media in May, he said: “If I exist – I come from a multicultural environment that identifies with different countries – I find it normal to question your identity and sometimes even your doubt your own origin.
“Canada and England are a part of me, they have made me who I am. I can’t lie, this was not an easy process. I love Mexico. My father instilled this passion from an early age and I was lucky enough to visit Mexico every year during my childhood.
“I have always been part of the Mexican national team’s system. That’s where I feel most at ease. This is where my sisters and I feel most at home, even though ‘home’ is thousands of miles away.’
Flores made his Mexico debut five months earlier in a 1-1 draw with Chile, but his first official appearance for the squad came in a 3-0 CONCACAF Nations League win against Suriname in June.
He took the field with nine minutes left and his impact was felt almost immediately, with a great pass forward that resulted in a penalty. Although Flores would be denied from 12 meters away, he certainly impressed manager Gerardo Martino.
Mexico manager Gerardo Martino was impressed with Flores despite his penalty miss in June
“Marcelo is everything a coach expects, the player who has desires to assert his dribbling, he does what we all expect of him, he does the ‘one on one’ which is one of the best qualities and the penalty is anecdotal. ‘ said Martin.
“It’s fine … we had Santi, Chavez and Orbelin, Santi decided to give it to him and the boy is inconsolable in the locker room, and it’s sad because this career has many disappointments, but everything that has happened has been good , everything is experience and everything is knowledge.
“Marcelo is something else, he needs rest and hopefully they can give it to him.”
For those behind the scenes at Arsenal, Flores’ net worth will come as no surprise. He joined the North London side in 2019 after three years with Ipswich Town. Flores was originally spotted by League One club coach Steve Foley on a coaching trip in the remote Cayman Islands.
The 19-year-old impressed with the youth teams last season before landing on the first team bench
Just a year after his move to Arsenal, Flores was awarded his first professional contract at the age of 17.
An attacking midfielder by nature, the 19-year-old can play across the front line and some have compared his style to Mesut Ozil. He can easily get around defenders, has an eye for pass and goal and is also comfortable with both feet.
“I prefer to play in a number 10/left position in a more free role. I like getting the ball to the feet, being isolated on the wing and beating a man so that I can have one-on-one chances to score goals,” he said. the athletic this summer.
“I’m quite a flexible player, I don’t mind playing as a number 9 or on either grand piano even as a number 8 and I’ve always been an energetic person so I like pressing a lot.”
Flores will be hopeful to be part of the Mexican squad that travels to the World Cup next month
Last season was his breakthrough season. The whirlwind campaign kicked off with the under-18 squad and Flores would score six goals and two assists in 11 appearances. He was then promoted to the Under 23 side and continued to shine under current Crawley Town manager Kevin Betsy with a further five goals and an assist.
His performances for the youth teams did not go unnoticed and were rewarded with a first call-up to the Arsenal first team. Flores then made the bench against Crystal Palace in April.
After all that, along with appearances for Mexico, the hope among some Arsenal fans was that Flores would play in the Europa League and Carabao Cup this season. But the youngster was loaned out to LaLiga 2 team Real Oviedo this summer in a bid to further his development.
He was loaned to Real Oviedo this summer but has struggled with playing time so far
The move has so far not gone as expected. Flores has played just 293 minutes for a struggling side at the bottom of the league, with just two wins from their first 11 league games.
If we are to believe reports in Spain, Arsenal will not hesitate to end the lease if the player continues to play a supporting role for Real Oviedo.
Flores’ lack of minutes this season has hampered his hopes for the World Cup. He failed to make the final Mexico squad and his chances of traveling to Qatar next month look slim.
While this year’s World Cup may come too early for him, Flores certainly has a bright future at Arsenal and could still become the next star to graduate from the famed Hale End academy.