The 12 Greatest South Americans In Premier League History
With Sergio Aguero having become Manchester City’s greatest goal scorer of all time, it got us wondering about how his fellow South Americans have performed in the Premier League. There have been some great players from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and more to grace these shores, but which has been the best. With plenty to choose from, here are the top 12 best South American players to grace the English top flight in the modern era.
12. Gabriel Heinze
The no nonsense full-back was not at Manchester United for long but he quickly earned himself a cult following and had no small success at Old Trafford despite the brevity of his stint there. He made 83 appearances for the Red Devils over three seasons, although the middle of the three was ruined through injury. He won the Player of the Season in his first campaign and was captain by the end of the third. It was a shame Heinze left the league then, but his stay was very enjoyable. If brief, and saw him win the Premier League and the League Cup.
11. David Luiz
The enigmatic Brazilian could still have a lot more in his Premier League locker, but he has already achieved an awful lot in his two stints with Chelsea. At times something of a laughing stock during his first spell with Chelsea, but it is easy to forget that Luiz won the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup during those first four seasons. After two years at PSG he returned and has added the Premier League title to his trophy cabinet. He is nearing 200 appearances for the Blues and looks likely to go down as one of their most successful players in history.
10. Nolberto Solano
There is an awful lot of love for the Peruvian up in the north east of England as he has become something of a Newcastle legend, at least of the Premier League era. The winger turned up at St James’ Park in 1998 from Boca Junios with most not knowing much about him, but he quickly made an impression, appearing 38 times and scoring six times in his debut season. He was an incredible workhorse for the Magpies, making 40 or more appearances in four separate seasons, with his most being 52. Including spells with West Ham and Aston Villa, he finished with a record of 425 games and 63 goals in English football which is some return for a man that first cost Newcastle under £2.5m and was his first countryman to grace the Premier League.
The diminutive Brazilian was the star of an exciting Middlesbrough team that were attempting to be the North Yorkshire Galacticos and failing quite badly. Despite the experiment of bringing in a host of star names to play alongside the likes of Curtis Fleming and Phil Stamp not working, Juninho’s presence was memorable. He came second in the FWA Player of the Season award in 1997 and returned to Boro in 2002, winning the League Cup in 2004. He will forever be a hero at the Riverside and be remembered fondly by English football fans across the country.
8. Gustavo Poyet
A thoroughly elegant and impressive midfield presence throughout his time at Chelsea and Tottenham, Gus Poyet was one of the most sought-after Premier League players during his pomp in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He scored 54 goals in the Premier League, which is a cracking return from midfield and he lifted the FA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Cup Winners Cup with Chelsea for his efforts. He nearly added the League Cup to that haul, but lost in the final with Spurs in 2002 after scoring 14 times in his debut season.
7. Philippe Coutinho
It was something of a surprise when Liverpool were able to pick up Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan for just £8.5m in 2012 and it duly proved to be an absolute bargain of a signing. The tricky Brazilian has gone on to be the star of the show at Anfield numerous times, steadily increasing his influence and his goal tally throughout his stay with the club. Capable of absolute genius in terms of passing and spectacular goals, he might not have long left with Liverpool but the fans on Merseyside should enjoy him while his time at the club lasts.
6. Gilberto Silva
Not the man to provide the South American flair that many of the rest of this list can do, but Gilberto Silva was vital to the greatest Arsenal side of all time – the Invincibles. The team that went unbeaten and won the Premier League in 2003-04 was heavily reliant on Gilberto’s anchoring of the midfield and he was just as important as anyone else in that side. The tough but classy enforcer also picked up a couple of FA Cups and two Community Shields in his six seasons with the Gunners, racking up 237 appearances in total. Underrated and easily forgotten, but a truly great South American presence in the Premier League.
5. Alexis Sanchez
Since his arrival in the Premier League in 2014 the Chilean has not only been Arsenal’s runaway best player, but arguably the best player in the division. A wonderful mixture of skill, endeavour, tenacity and flair, Sanchez has been superb for the Gunners and his statistics bear that out. Despite not playing as a fully-fledged striker, Alexis managed 25 goals in his debut season, 17 in his second and 30 in his third – which is exceptional work. Whatever happens with him at the Emirates from here on in, those three seasons, which have brought two FA Cups, will be remembered as incredible from the little man.
4. Carlos Tevez
Some would say his abysmal attitude should preclude him from a spot this high, but his performances and statistics suggest he very much deserves his place. Carlos Tevez turned up at West Ham in 2006 in one of the most surprising transfers in Premier League history, but ended up being written into the clubs folklore by saving them from relegation with his goals late in the season. A move to Manchester United followed, where he racked up 99 appearances, 34 goals, two Premier League titles and the Champions League – not a bad spell. He controversially crossed the local divide to play for Manchester City and his record, at least in finding the back of the net, was even better there – notching 73 goals in 148 games and winning the Premier League again. His stay at the Etihad ended bitterly, but his time in England was eventful, entertaining and extremely successful.
3. Antonio Valencia
Antonio Valencia is the kind of player whose brilliance will not truly be realised and appreciated until after he retires. Some will scoff at him being so high on this list, but he has been one of the most reliable performers in the Premier League for almost a decade. A winger converted to right-back and now the captain of Manchester United, the Ecuadorian is already past 350 Premier League appearances and seemingly has plenty more in his locker. He has developed into an excellent defender and is always a threat going forward, as his 23 United goals attest to, thus far. He has two Premier League title to his name, along with an FA Cup, two League Cups and a Europa Legaue – not too bad at all.
2. Luis Suarez
Controversial and often unpopular during his time in England but Luis Suarez was absolutely lethal and the best striker in the division at times whilst he was wearing a Liverpool shirt. The Uruguayan nutter had three-and-a-half seasons at Anfield and got better and better during that time, peaking in a sensational 2013-14 campaign. Suarez seemed unstoppable that year, scoring 31 times in 37 appearances and winning the Premier League Player of the Season, PFA Players Player of the Year and the Golden Boot. His Liverpool career only yielded one League Cup but Suarez took them very close to a Premier League title, and he is certainly not to be blamed for the lack of silverware. 82 goals in 133 games is more than his fair share.
1. Sergio Aguero
Undoubtedly the greatest South American in Premier League history, and with time to further cement that position, Sergio Aguero has been a delight to watch since his arrival on these shores in 2011. The Argentinian came to Manchester City from Atletico Madrid and made a stunning impact on debut, coming on for the final 30 minutes against Swansea to score twice, assist once and make his new fans purr. In his six completed seasons since then he has only failed to score 20 goals once and has managed 30 or more on three occasions – all of this despite a poor track record with injuries. His 26 goals in 2014-15 won him the Premier League Golden Boot and he may well go on to win it again and again. What a player.