South American Signings – The Ones to Watch

South America is known for producing some of the most exciting, eye catching and most notably best players of all time. Its hardly uncommon for European clubs to sign the bright stars of the continent if they impress in the League or on the International stage in the World Cup or the Copa America. Here we look at some of the South American imports who have entered the European football scene summer.

Sebastian Coates

We start with Sebastian Coates (Pronounced Kwa-tez for those of you still making coat jokes), who has joined Liverpool from Nacional for a deal believed to be worth £9 million.

Coates has certainly risen to prominence on a much wider scale in the past few months, becoming a regular in the Uruguay national team, winning the Copa America and winning the Young Player of the Tournament too.

Don’t let the nickname ‘Little Lugano’ fool you either, Coates towers above his centre back partner at 6ft 6in. Seen as a potential replacement for Jamie Carragher, the 20-year-old may well have to fight for his place for now, as the Daniel Agger and Carragher partnership has done a good job at the back so for the Reds this season.

I think the biggest fear with Coates is, like many players who arrive directly from South America, can be big letdown’s, and Liverpool already know the feeling of failed defenders from the continent in the form of Gabriel Paletta and Emiliano Insua. Liverpool haven’t just jumped in and signed Sebastian because he picked up his accolade at the Copa America, he has been on Director of Football Damien Comolli’s radar for the past two years now, and for him to take that much interest in him, it certainly speaks volumes for his potential. Liverpool need a sturdy defence to return to where they want to be and i’m sure if he settles in under a manager like Dalglish, he could well be the final piece of the jigsaw at the back, and a bargain at that.

Erik Lamela

Lamela, a product of the renowned River Plate academy, joined Roma from the fallen giants this summer.

After the relegation of River Plate, the club had no choice but to sell their best and brightest to ease a financial crisis, and Lamela was one of their very best, and has a bagful of talent at just 19 years of age.

Lamela came through the aforementioned River Plate academy, and he is just one in a very long list of starlets the club has created, having had world class stars such as Alfredo Di Stefano, Roberto Ayala and Esteban Cambiasso on their books to name a very few.

Speaking of Cambiasso, Lamela and Roma alike are confident he can be the next South American star to follow in the midfielders footsteps and take the Italian football scene by storm. Erik has also broken into the Argentinian first team, so he is moving in the right direction at an incredible pace. I’m not exactly saying he’ll be on par with Lionel Messi, but i’ve read about and seen enough to consider him a very exciting talent and one to watch out for if you’re a Serie A enthusiast.

Joel Campbell

Joel Campbell signed for Arsenal after some impressive displays in the Copa America, but must wait until next year before he graces The Emirates Stadium as he has gone on loan to Lorient FC due to a problem with his work permit.

The Costa Rican International was one of the outstanding players of the group stages this summer, and as you’d expect, garnered interest from a number of European clubs, but the Gunners won the race for the striker, costing them a mere £1 million.

He possesses that much sought after ability in any team skip passed defenders with relative ease. He may also be a useful winger, as he is known for his crossing as well as his finishing.

In tough times for Arsenal, Joel is probably one of the very few highlights of an otherwise forgettable summer and start of season and could well have done with him for both the ever growing list of injuries and suspensions.

There hasn’t really been a Costa Rican footballer of note in the Premiership since the days of Paulo Wanchope, but now there are two, with Fulham’s acquisition of FC Twente’s Bryan Ruiz for £10.6 million, a player I highly rate and hope succeed’s in England.

Maxi Moralez

Maxi Moralez joined newly promoted Italian side Atalanta from Velez Sarsfield for €5 million. Some of you may be scratching your heads wondering who this guy is, well wonder no longer.

Now Maxi isn’t brand new to European football, Russian football fans could remember he had a brief, unsuccessful stint at FC Moscow in 2007 following an impressive string of performances for the Argentina U-20’s, but at 24 years old he returns a more matured player who will be ready for a new challenge.

Moralez has everything you want in an attacking midfielder, he is creative, fast and has an eye for goal, boasting a record of 25 goals in 3 seasons for Sarsfield.

Atalanta fans may not be patient with their new acquisition, as he not only must fill the boots of retired club hero Cristiano Doni, he must also help the club climb out of -6 points deficit they obtained due to their involvement in a match fixing scandal.

Maxi broke onto the International scene at senior level in March when he played against Venezuela, and if he can help the ‘Nerazzurri‘ enjoy a successful first season back in the top flight, he could find himself playing alongside Sergio Aguero and Mauro Zarate again, who also played with Moralez in the 2007 South American Youth Championship.

Denis Stracqualursi

Just when you think you’ve mastered the proper pronunciation of Diniyar Bilyaletidnov, Everton sign this guy.

Initially, I knew very little about Denis, but he has a surprisingly impressive goal record at parent club Tigre scoring 21 goals in 38 games last season.

He should find his chances of starting very high in a depleted Everton strike force which has seen Jermaine Beckford, Yakubu and James Vaughan all leave, while Louis Saha and Victor Anichebe atr struggling with injuries, the latter two’s absences coming as no surprise anyways.

The Toffee’s can only sit in hope that Denis can bring his form over to the Premiership, otherwise its a very worrying situation for Everton on the goalscoring front.

Something notable he brings is his physicality, he should be ready for any tough defender who he comes up against and may be seen as somewhat of a South American Duncan Ferguson.

Ricardo Alvarez

We’ll wrap up with the transfer of Ricardo Alvarez who made the move from Velez Sarsfield to Inter Milan for €12 million.

Alvarez’ move is a strange one given the price tag, although there is no doubting how technically gifted he is and he still has a potential to fulfill. The winger wasn’t a regular starter for much of the season, only gaining much praise from fans and the media for his form in the Copa Libertadores but he did play his part in helping them win the Torneo Clausura.

His versatility will be useful as he has shown in his time at Velez that he is capable of playing anywhere across midfield, relatively comfortable on either wing or centre midfield.

In a League that has seen much success from South American players, it will be interesting to see what Inter Milan can get out of Ricardo. If managed correctly and his potential is fulfilled, they will have a real talent on their hands, with the €12 million fee looking like a bargain.

The Italian sides are showing that they want to turn South America’s brightest prospects into real talents, signing up the likes of Maxi Moralez, Erik Lamela and of course, Alvarez, and lets be honest its hard to argue with the league’s record of successful players from the continent, so they’re always worth keeping an eye on.


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