The continent has produced some of the most skillful players of our time yet it is only recently that they have succeeded in the English top division.
In previous decades players like Ricky Villa and Ossie Ardiles were a rarity while others such as Austin Delgado were cult, fan favourites rather than roaring success stories.
The first South American to really set the heather alight was Juninho in 1995 who swapped Sao Paulo for the north of England and Middlesborough. At the time Bryan Robson was creating a mini-revolution and recruited Juninho along with countryman Emerson and the Italian striker Ravenelli.
Although the experiment was ultimately a failure leading to Borough’s relegation Juninho was a shining light. His marauding runs and intricate skill reminded of Peter Beardsley in his pomp.
Since then the fortunes of South America have been mixed. With as many impressing as fading into the shadows.
At present the South American footballers are excelling like never before and more and more clubs and managers are putting their faith them.
Current top 11 South Americans in England:
Despite being roundly criticized in his first few games (anything to do with replacing England’s Robert Green?) Julio Cesar has gone on to become arguably the best goal keeper in the division. After Inter Milan many thought his career was dwindling into obscurity but his transfer to QPR is looking like a success. So much so that he has been re-called to the Brazilian national team and attracting attention form bigger EPL teams.
At left back I have Ecuador’s Antonio Valencia. Last year Valencia was named Man United’s player of the year and inherited the historical No.7 jersey. He is a versatile and useful player down the left hand side popping up with the odd goal but creating more for his team-mates for club and country.
On the right hand side I have Argentinean, Pablo Zabaleta who plays for Man City in England. Zabaleta is a main stay for Man City and was an instrumental figure in City’s title win last year garnering much praise for his committed attitude and lung bursting runs down the wing.
In the centre of defence I have opted for David Luiz and Fabio Colloccini. Both players are prone to the odd mistake, especially when to they try and out smart midfielders and end up fooling themselves. However, both are adept defenders and would compliment each with Luiz being more attacking minded and a link to midfield.
Lucas has only recently returned to Liverpool’s midfield but already his influence is telling. Despite not having the attacking instincts of other Brazilians he is an excellent central-defensive midfielder.
On the left wing I have chosen Jonas Gutierrez of Newcastle and Argentina. A firm fans favourite at St James since arriving in 2008 the silky winger has racked up near to 200 appearances in 4 years creating bucket loads of chances for his attackers.
In the middle is Ramires of Chelsea and Brazil. The tough tackling little midfielder is comfortable as defensive cover or in attack. He is known for his acceleration, dribbling and ability to open up the tightest of defences.
Since is record move to Southampton Ramirez has impressed all in difficult circumstances. He could play as a second striker but seems better as a right hand sided midfielder. I would not be surprised if the Uruguayan was pinched by a bigger team at this seasons end.
Although not the tallest nor biggest both Kun Arguero and Luis Suarez would be a match for any defence. What they lack in height they more than make up for in speed, guile and tenacity. The English press have been fairly unfair to Uruguayan, Suarez since his move from Ajax to Anfield. Although his comments to Evra were unsavoury the assorted hacks have been quick to pounce on any little mistake or error while absolving their own of same indiscretions. He is an amazing player with the ball at his feet and starting to match his Ajax goal form
Arguero wrote his name into history with his last day, last second title clinching goal. The little Uruguayan has been a revelation in the EPL and a integral cog in the Sky Blues machine. His goals are often acrobatic, impressive and vital.