Top 10 South Americans in Premier League history
With the likes of Gabriel Jesus (Brazil), Alexis Sanchez (Chile) and Sergio Aguero (Argentina) currently starring in the Premier League, it seems like there has been no better time as a South American to be playing in England’s top flight.
Given the cultural differences – as well as the climate ones – it’s no wonder that players from South America haven’t been as common in England as players from Europe and that a lot of them – the likes of Emerson, Robinho and Juan Veron – just couldn’t adjust to the ways of the Premier League despite being excellent players in their own right.
Quite a lot have been major hits in their time in the EPL, though, winning plenty of silverware and gaining a ton of fans in the process. Here then are ten of the best South Americans in Premier League history.
#10 Antonio Valencia
Hailing from Ecuador, it’s a sign of Valencia’s success in England that he’s currently into his ninth season with arguably the biggest club in the country in Manchester United and over those nine seasons he’s been a regular first-team player. He’s not the flashiest member of United’s cosmopolitan squad but he’s been consistently good enough for four managers – Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho – to keep on picking him.
Valencia first came over to England with a much smaller club, though – Wigan Athletic – where he spent three seasons, the first on loan, and was a big hit with the fans, essentially being ever-present in their 2008/09 Premier League campaign. His move to Old Trafford followed for a relatively small fee of £16m, becoming United’s first signing of the 2009 close season.
Perhaps his greatest asset? His versatility. Initially beginning life at United as an attacking midfielder, Valencia’s first team prospects grew hugely under the reign of Van Gaal, who converted the Ecuadorian into a right back and a right wing-back, and he hasn’t looked back since, essentially becoming United’s go-to man in the position.
Most recently, he scored his first goal of 2017/18 – a 20-yard half volley against West Ham that will probably go down as a Goal of the Season contender.