Figures discovered back in August 2011 as the Premier League kicked off and Bolton , scoring 4 past a “capitulated” QPR , fired their way to the top of the league, a sure sign that the only way was down, revealed that out of the 1465 players that could’ve been picked for their respective Premier League clubs that weekend, only 42% of them are English. Amongst the other 849.7 players, we’ll presume the 0.7 is Carlos Tevez – and not just because he’s made less of a contribution than everyone else, but because he’s 5’6 – there are 39 South Americans, including: Brazil’s contribution of 14, Argentina’s of 13 and Uruguay’s offering of 3. (How thankful we are of our Uruguayan Premier League stars.)
However, despite the samba, latin flair and creativity that the successful footballing continent of South America endears us with, there remains the small disconcerting voice of some that South Americans are ill-fitted to the English style of play and unquestionably, the voice has valid examples of such players failing to adjust to the hustle and bustle of England’s top flight. Hernan Crespo did his best to justify the shortcomings of South Americans in England, when he joined Chelsea in 2003, explaining that he has to, “go to the bakers, go shopping, have the electrician coming round, get the car serviced, and for all these things,” he continues, “I have to go and speak in English.” For Crespo , who went on to spend three of the next five years of his Chelsea contract in Italy playing for Inter and AC Milan, the defining problem was the conflicting ethos of the Latin and the Anglo-Saxons, “We’re Latin, and all through our lives we’re used to someone giving us a hand. But that’s not the Anglo-Saxon way. The cultures are different.”
Juan , Roma’s 32-year old Brazilian centre back, seemingly hit the nail on the head when it came to justifying their on-the-pitch performances though, rather than their often short-lived stays in England, “technically, the Europeans are better than the Brazilians in terms of passing, shooting, heading. But we have more ability, with an unmatched capacity to dribble.” For witnesses of David Luiz this season, Juan’s compatriot, the above statement will ring true to the tune of John “Portsmouth Football Club” Westwood vigorously shaking bells: the eccentric former Benfica centre-back often makes marauding runs from defence, from his position alongside an ever more frustrated John Terry, pinging the ball from one foot to another with the aesthetic grace more befitting of a forward; however, when he comes up against a technical striker himself, whilst defending, he has the composure of a player “controlled by a 10-year-old in the crowd on a Playstation.”
It does indeed seem that the players that excel in the English top-flight from the flourishing footballing continent that currently boasts Neymar, Ganso and Damiao to name but a few Brazilians, are the ones that are prepared to sacrifice a little flair for a little rigidity and those that put their bodies on the line for the cause by: flying into tackles, running themselves into the ground and battling for the ball right until the final whistle. I’m talking of Tottenham’s newfound cult hero Sandro, The Kop’s tireless Luis Suarez and their equally valued Lucas Leiva . The evidence for the above claim is there too: whilst one Da Silva twin has made 20 Premier League appearances for Manchester United since signing as a 17-year old in 2008, the other has made over double that amount. Fabio is a left-back and Rafael is a right-back and it is Gary Neville’s successor that is commanding a starting spot in the Manchester United team when fully fit and it is no surprise: since joining the Red Devils the attacking and “fearless” right-back has tapered his game to suit the Premier League and willingly cut out the constant flamboyancy that his twin hasn’t, reducing the times that he’ll overlap his right midfielder and arrive in the opposition’s penalty box. Fabio however, continues to stick to his guns and is very much an attacking left back, operating more as a wing-back when he does play.
It is the willingness to change that has ensured that the amount of Klebersons from South America are reducing and the amount of Agueros are on the up and it is in no small part down to the changing of the English game too, as it adapts and changes to keep up with the rest of Europe and indeed the world, to ensure they continue to compete on the biggest of the club and world stages. The leaps and bounds that the Premier League has taken since 2005, when it comes to investing in los jugadores sudamericanos, are vast: seven years ago, the Bundesliga was the league of trade for 38 South Americans, dwarfing the Premier League’s figure by more than threefold, but now England’s figure is increasing towards the figure of Germany and Italy’s and the increased amount of players from the continent can only help, providing an attraction to other aspiring countrymen and a port of call, help and advice once here.
Nine South Americans have already joined the Premier League so far this season, through promotion through the ranks, promotion from the Championship and bought in from abroad, including: Sebastian Coates, Sergio Aguero and Andre Santos . January provides the opportunity for the influx of more players from the continent responsible for the most World Cup wins.
Eduardo Vargas, a supposed target for Chelsea and Liverpool , who plays up front as a diminutive, pacey goal-getter had a successful season with Universidad de Chile averaging a goal every other game. He was nominated for the South American Player of the Year Award, alongside eventual winner Neymar , and finished as a deserved runner up. However, his value of £10m clearly didn’t represent value for money or seem worth the risk for any actual interested Premier League parties, as the Uruguayan has made the much taken switch from Argentina to Italy by joining Napoli. However, the 3rd placed player in the award was Ganso and he may well be destined for the Premier League with Tottenham supposedly interested. Then again, maybe he isn’t, “Ganso ? I have never heard of him. I don’t know him, where does he play? What position?” said Harry Redknapp when questioned on the rumour. ““I don’t get to Brazil much,” added the Spurs boss, signalling a possible reason for the lack of South Americans in the Premier League, amidst his ignorance.
Liverpool are supposedly holding talks with Jaguares de Chiapas over the signing of £8m-rated Jackson Martinez , who is also interesting Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, as they hunt for a European spot and Arsenal have allegedly registered an interest in Argentinian Anderlecht striker Matias Suarez , who at 23 has scored six goals in six games in the Europa League.
However, whilst England are increasing their number of Brazilians, Argentines and the like, they are still behind Italy and Spain and the disadvantage is still proving itself as problematic for Premier League clubs chasing South American stars. Eduardo Vargas has already been snatched by Napoli, as was Erik Lamela by Roma in the summer, and if England are to continue to compete in the Champions League and push for major honours, then securing the stars of the future from this continent may hold the key.
Article courtesy of Jordan Florit from This is Futbol
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