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 By Tom Marshall

Mexico international Rafa Marquez nears Atlas return - reports

Rafa Marquez has enjoyed one of the most successful careers of any Mexican player.

Longtime Mexico international Rafa Marquez is nearing a return to his first club, Atlas, with ESPN Deportes and other outlets reporting a deal is in place with his current team Hellas Verona.

The 36-year-old former Barcelona defender is scheduled to travel to Guadalajara on Saturday, and could sign for Los Rojinegros as early as Sunday, with a possible presentation on Monday, according to ESPN Deportes.

Atlas sporting director Heriberto Morales confirmed on Wednesday that "Rafa is very interested in coming" and that the Liga MX outfit was in talks with Hellas Verona. The club also sent out a tweet Friday that seemed to hint at Marquez's return, indicating, "Some loves are eternal."

Marquez left Atlas when he was 20 and has enjoyed one of the most successful careers of any Mexican player, with perhaps only Hugo Sanchez having done more in Europe.

Marquez moved to Monaco from Atlas in 1999 and won Ligue 1 in his first season. From there he went on to Barcelona in 2003, with whom he won four La Liga titles and two UEFA Champions Leagues.

A difficult spell at MLS franchise New York Red Bulls followed in 2010, before he returned to Mexico with Club Leon, where he was an integral part of La Fiera winning back-to-back Liga MX titles. Then Marquez made a shock move in August 2014 to Hellas Verona in Serie A, but he has always maintained a desire to retire at Atlas.

The Zamora, Michoacan native is the only player in history to captain his national team in four separate World Cups, and he is still involved in the Mexico national team set-up.


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