Real Betis' Mexican Starlet Diego Lainez poised for break-out in 2019-20
Having immediately impressed at Real Betis, fans of LaLiga should look no further for a breakout candidate next season than young Mexico international attacker Diego Lainez.
A left-footed attacking midfielder or wide-forward, 18-year-old Lainez has made a big impression since joining Betis last January and looks set to really establish himself as an important player at LaLiga level over the next 12 months.
Born in Villahermoso, Mexico, on June 9th 2000, Lainez joined capital city side Club America aged just 12, and worked his way quickly through their youth sides. A senior debut came at the age of just 16 years and eight months in a March 2017 Copa MX game against Santos Laguna, making him the third-youngest player in Club America’s history. He made his Liga MX debut three days later against Leon and quickly became a regular starter.
International observers got their first views of Lainez at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup in India, where he scored twice in the group stages against England.
By the following summer Lainez was starring at Under-20 level, guiding Mexico to the final of the prestigious Toulon youth tournament. He was named the competition’s best player, following the footsteps of former and current LaLiga stars including Thierry Henry, Joan Roman Riquelme and Kevin Gameiro.
A full international debut arrived a couple of months later, in a friendly against Uruguay aged just 18 years and two months, and Lainez is already established at the top level with four senior caps.
This impact meant that Lainez was soon included on many lists of the world’s most exciting young players. It was inevitable that a big European club would come in for the youngster, and Betis moved quickly to win a fierce battle for his signature in January 2019.
Lainez did not take long to show his new team's fans what he can do. On his LaLiga debut at the Estadio Benito Villamarin a few days later, he came from the bench and got involved as Betis hit a late winner in a 3-2 victory against Girona.
Verdiblanco coach Quique Setien has been intelligently allowing Lainez, still just 18, the time and space to get used to the mental and physical requirements of LaLiga Santander. Mexico international teammate Andres Guardado and Betis club captain and fellow winger Joaquin Sanchez have also helped him settle in the Andalusian capital.
Despite his short stature [1.67m] and slim figure [58 kilos], Lainez has shown a lot of character and confidence in making a big impact at LaLiga level so far. Setien has already deployed him on both wings, although he looks most dangerous starting out on the right, where he can cut inside onto his cultured left foot. A first LaLiga assist came against Barcelona in March, although his team were beaten 1-4, as the champions gained revenge for Betis' 4-3 victory at the Camp Nou in the reverse fixture.
With some summer adjustments expected at the Benito Villamarin, Betis will be hoping to challenge again in the upper echelons of LaLiga Santander next season. One thing is already sure though… Lainez has everything required to kick on now and become a star player in the team for many years to come.