Marquez set to join Hellas Verona from Leon

The 35-year-old centre-back is poised for a return to Europe following his impressive displays at the World Cup this summer

Rafa Marquez is set to complete a sensational return to Europe after Club Leon confirmed he will join Serie A outfit Hellas Verona for the coming season.

Marquez, who won back-to-back Liga MX titles as club captain, was one of the standout performers of a Mexico side who somewhat surprisingly reached the last 16 of the World Cup and only narrowly lost to Netherlands.

“It is the player’s decision to look for new challenges,” a statement posted by club president Jesus Martinez on his Twitter account read. “We wish him the very best of success in his new club Hellas Verona in the Italian league.”

— Jesus Martinez M. (@jmartinez_leon) August 4, 2014

The statement added that Marquez will always be welcome to return to Leon in the future.

Marquez also sent a message thanking the Guanajuato club’s fans, claiming he would always carry them in his heart.

#GraciasLeon por todas las alegrías y desafíos. Los llevo por siempre en mi corazón.

— Rafa Marquez (@RafaMarquezMX) August 4, 2014

Marquez joined Monaco in Ligue 1 from Club Atlas in 1999, before signing for Barcelona in 2003 and going on to become one of the most successful exports in the history of Mexican soccer.

The centre-back left Barcelona following World Cup 2010 and endured a difficult spell at New York Red Bulls, before signing for Leon ahead of the Clausura 2013.

He lifted back-to-back Liga MX titles as captain of La Fiera, at a time when many thought his career was coming to an end.

Marquez’s return to form opened the door to a comeback to the national team when El Tri was struggling in qualifying for Brazil 2014 and he duly delivered as captain of the side for a record fourth-consecutive World Cup finals.

Verona finished 11th in Serie A last season, just three points behind AC Milan and six behind Inter.

The club have also confirmed the signing of Antonio Luna from Aston Villa on a loan deal with the right to make the move permanent.