Canada ends Marcelo Flores pursuit as player chooses Mexico
TORONTO – The dream of Marcelo Flores playing for Canada is over.
The 18-year-old Arsenal U-23 standout confirmed Monday he has decided to play his international football with Mexico.
Here’s something I’ve been wanting to share for a while 👇🏻🇲🇽 pic.twitter.com/9VdMdeWTp0— Marcelo Flores (@10marceloflores) May 16, 2022
Flores' decision to play for Mexico ends a long-standing recruitment mission by Canada head coach John Herdman to convince the prodigy to represent the country of his birth.
Herdman remained in regular contact with Marcelo through the process, as well as his father Ruben, who was believed to be influential in his son's decision. It is believed Flores' decision to play for Mexico is not dependent on whether he gets called into Mexico's World Cup side for Qatar. Flores has his heart committed to playing for El Tri, and Canada is out of the running.
Herdman and Canada did everything they could to try to convince Flores to choose Canada for his international football. Discussions continued up until recent weeks. when Flores informed Canada of his decision.
Herdman had previously worked with Arsenal to build out a plan for international integration that was designed to help with player development with club considerations, and is said to have impressed Per Mertesacker, manager of the Arsenal Academy, with his level of detail and care for both player and club. Arsenal agreed to let Flores join a potential Canada camp last January before the player decided to stay at the club with COVID complicating health and travel considerations.
Canada held out hope that the progress of the National team under Herdman, recent success as the best side in CONCACAF in World Cup qualifying, and the potential for Flores to be a key player for the program, may have served to convince Flores to choose the country of his birth over two well-established and successful international programs. Privately however, it was believed Flores' and his father's preference was to play for Mexico from the very beginning.
Although this decision is not unexpected, it's a frustrating loss for Canada missing out on a potential future star in the region.
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Flores is eligible to represent Canada, Mexico and England. Flores was born in Canada and raised in Georgetown, Ontario. His mother is Canadian of English descent. Marcelo's father, Ruben, is a former Mexican soccer player with previous coaching stints in Ontario and is the former manager of the Cayman Islands women's national team. Flores and his family moved abroad to join Ipswich Town in 2017, before being convinced to make the move to Arsenal in 2019. Marcelo was granted an English passport in 2021.
Flores will only be cap-tied to Mexico after he plays in a competitive match for country. After representing Mexico at the U-16 and U-20 levels, Flores made his Mexico senior national team debut in December as a late game substitute in a friendly against Chile. He came off the bench for Mexico again last month for 29 minutes in another friendly against Guatemala.
The decision to play for Mexico is a blow for Canada, as Herdman doesn't currently have a player of Flores' profile in his squad; a naturally gifted playmaking number 10.
Flores is believed to be one of the brightest young Canadian-born players emerging in the game. After impressing with Arsenal's U-18 squad, Flores was elevated to the U-23 squad earlier this year. Flores has four goals and an assist in 10 games in Premier League 2 in 2022. He also featured on the Arsenal bench for the senior team for the first time on April 4 for a Premier League game at Crystal Palace.
Canada is back in action June 5 in an international friendly against Iran at BC Place in Vancouver.
All Canada Men’s National team games can be watched on OneSoccer.