Andres Guardado’s time at PSV has come to an end as he leaves for greener pastures and to test himself at a higher level again. Phillip Cocu deserves credit for facilitating his positional change from winger and fullback to midfielder but Guardado has rarely disappointed since finding his feet in the Eredivisie. He has proved to be a leader for a young dressing room and an entertainer for a passionate fan base.


When Andres Guardado joined PSV in the summer of 2014, the Dutch club was in the midst of an injury crisis as midfielders, Stijn Schaars and Oscar Hiljemark had suffered long-term injuries. The youngster, Jorrit Hendrix who had played at centre-back and defensive midfielder was the only deep midfield option. Guardado had just come off an unflattering loan stint at Bayer Leverkusen where he mainly played at left-back as he tried to invigorate a career that had originally promised so much and was beginning to stall. There were rumours that Hirving Lozano’s move from Pachuca to PSV broke a Mexican transfer record but Guardado was previously the most expensive player to transfer from Mexico to Europe from Atlas to Deportivo La Coruna.

Jorrit Hendrix started the season as the main defensive midfield option and gained plaudits as he was even touted for a call-up to the Dutch National Team. Guardado was an option off the bench as the Mexican was drawn out of position easily to chase runners to the flank and leave his defense vulnerable. Guardado’s instinct as a winger and left back led him to chase the ball out wide while Hendrix’ instincts as a centre-back led him to drop in between the two centre-backs so the winger, fullback and spare centre-back could create a 3v1 or 3v2 situation out wide. Hendrix played his best game against Utrecht in a match where he ran the midfield and scored his first goal for the senior team before being sent off after two yellows in the first-half of the next game against ADO Den Haag.

This presented Guardado with an opportunity to earn a place at the heart of PSV’s midfield and he never disappointed. With all his shortcomings, Guardado’s long-range passing was unmatched at PSV and moved PSV forward quickly in an attack with Memphis Depay, Luuk De Jong, and Luciano Narsingh. His calm on the ball began to help set the tempo for PSV in a midfield with Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Maher as he has not relinquished his position in the PSV midfield till now. Guardado’s statistics were beginning to match the likes of Thulani Serero at Ajax and Jordy Clasie at Feyenoord as he was already creating a higher amount of chances than the duo and winning a higher percentage of his duels.

Guardado had reached cult hero status by the end of the season without even signing a permanent contract as the PSV fans began to create Mexican tifos at home and away games. PSV eventually won the Eredivisie as De Jong, the rest of the PSV squad and the PSV fan base serenaded Guardado with the chant ‘Mi Amigo Guardado’ to which he jovially danced to. At that moment, it was obvious PSV would sign Guardado to a permanent contract and after much haggling from Technical Director, Marcel Brands and Valencia, PSV gave the Mexican a permanent home.

If Guardado’s first season was strong, his second was awe-inspiring as he began to brandish that magic wand of a left foot he has as he truly began to express himself. In the UEFA Champions League opener against Manchester United, he volleyed a through ball to Maxime Lestienne who crossed for Luciano Narsingh to score a diving header and the winning goal in the match. Guardado was joined by his Mexican counterpart Hector Moreno as PSV and Mexico’s undying passion for football began to intertwine with both players beginning to thrive in Holland.

Guardado began to display a confidence and leadership that resulted in him taking the captain’s armband when De Jong was injured, taking set-pieces and crossing for Moreno to score important goals and being the true technical leader of the team. The Eredivisie is home to pint-sized defensive midfielders as Lasse Schone’s move from attack to Peter Bosz’ controller role showed last season but like Schone, Guardado was also thriving at the European level.


Late, in a Champions League home match against Wolfsburg with PSV 1-0 up, the ball was bouncing out for a throw-in on the left flank with Guardado chasing it and a Wolfsburg player breathing down his neck, Guardado jumped and hoofed the ball over his shoulder with his left foot for the ball to loop over the Wolfsburg defence and perfectly onto the right foot of De Jong who prodded it over the Wolfsburg goalkeeper to double the team’s lead and seal an important victory. Few can tell if the assist was a fluke or another piece of Guardado brilliance but it is certainly worth a watch through a grainy view on YouTube.

Guardado was the elder-statesman of a young side and against CSKA Moscow at the Phillips Stadion in the match that would determine if PSV would go through to the next round or not, PSV’s young side was nervous and in those early periods of nervousness, Guardado exuded calm and grace in possession. He pinged alarmingly accurate balls to Jurgen Locadia on the left flank which created moments of worry for the Russians but the Mexican even maintained his calm after he was wrongly adjudged to have fouled a CSKA player in the box for a penalty. PSV would win that match 2-1 to progress to the UEFA Champions League knockout phase for the first time since the 2006/07 season.

PSV opened the second-half of the season with a tough match against Feyenoord at De Kuip and Guardado sent an accurate and well-weighted long ball from the right-flank deep in the PSV half to the left flank of the Feyenoord half for Luciano Narsingh to take on the ball and finish in a 2-0 victory. If one thought that was a fluke, he did a similar thing the next week at home to FC Twente where he chipped another perfect pass for Narsingh to score in a game where he managed three assists. His first two assists were set-pieces for his compatriot Moreno to score in one of two games for PSV where he has managed a hat-trick of assists. Guardado then got his fifth assist in a row the next week against Excelsior as he hit a sumptuous cross for De Jong to score. The Mexican became worth his weight in gold to PSV as he was struggling for fitness before the UEFA Champions League last 16 match against Atletico Madrid with Phillip Cocu and Davy Propper communicating as much to the media.

“Andrés is a very important player for our team. Not only in quality but also in personality. A real connection factor. He is an example of a player who has an effect on other players. I’m glad he’s reconnected,” said Cocu in the press conference before the match.

“Guardado helps the team forever. He is very important for the team, especially in a match like tomorrow’s,” said Propper in the same press conference.

Guardado wasn’t just creating from free-kicks but scoring them too as he was an integral part of PSV’s second consecutive Eredivisie title. At the title parade, this time it was him singing ‘Mi Amigo Guardado’ with all the PSV supporters. His final season at PSV was less fruitful but it was impressive to watch him maintain the same level of performance throughout while PSV’s other title winners dropped their level. Against Excelsior, PSV were looking to launch a rapid counter from a corner so Jeroen Zoet threw the ball to Guardado on the left flank who launched an accurately lasered switch ball to an onrushing Davy Propper who provided the finish that the delivery deserved.

Against Willem II, he set up Nicolas Isimat-Mirin and Marco Van Ginkel from corners before taking a shot on and lashing it in from range with his left foot. He finished the game by tigerishly regaining possession to pass to Van Ginkel on the edge of the box for the Dutchman to bag a brace and for Guardado to manage a hat-trick of assists in a game for the second time for PSV. He finished with nine assists consecutively in his last two seasons as he was PSV’s leading assister last season. He has done more and more to mesmerize and endear himself to the PSV supporters as he truly found a home for himself at the club and will always be kept in high regard.

He may be 30-years-old and on the cusp of 31 but his left foot is as sharp as it has ever been. He is a threat from set-pieces, crosses, and long balls as he deserves one final opportunity to prove himself at the highest level in his new role. PSV will be sad to see the back of him but it is the circle of life as he will be replaced with the eager Hendrix who made his Dutch National Team debut last season. Guardado resurrected a healthy relationship between PSV and Mexico which will continue to endure after PSV added the exciting Hirving Lozano to their ranks. Watching Guardado will make one wonder if his moments of genius are intended or unintended before he answers the question by executing the spectacle a second time to the bewilderment of all spectators.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)