There’s no denying the Premier League is the most entertaining division in the world containing some of the world’s hottest prospects. This season however, saw an influx of South American talent recruited into English football. Usually dominated by English stars, a flurry of Spanish passers, French forwards, a hint of Dutch and the combined African nations, a change in personnel has revamped this league to become much more attractive.
As we look back over the previous three seasons, South American players have been subtly joining and proving their worth. Luis Suarez the stand-out name amongst the bunch, an individual star, passionate to steal the show. Sergio Aguero, the classy finisher with a killer touch most famous for the nostalgic ‘AGUEROOO’ moment. Willian also, a team-playing winger introducing his Brazilian flair to a fast-tempo game. All adapting quicker than most, is there something to be said about their style?
This season has certainly seen the same. Arriving was Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal’s goal-scoring machine who never seems to stop running. Angel Di Maria has showcased his burst of pace and trickery at Old Trafford whilst Diego Costa, Spanish international but born in Brazil, is showing his aggressive presence and powerful finishing. Lighting up the Premier League like a house on fire, these South American’s sure seem to be stealing the show. Enner Valenica, Mauro Zarate and Eduardo Vargas have all been recruited by West Ham and QPR respectively, an abundance of talent for the lesser clubs to thrive on. So what’s their special ingredient that makes them that bit more unique than the rest?
They’re fighters. Often raised in a culture stricken with poverty. Chile, Brazil, Colombia; none are the most structured economies in the world. You remember being a kid. Playing football on concrete and knocking in a stunner as the ball thunders off the tree and just past the jumper to seal that all important park win. Well it’s different in these countries. These stars had no football boots, a football or even a jumper to use as a post. The economic state reflected upon the youngsters, as they worked hard to ensure their privileges were earned. A quote from Alexis Sanchez’s brother read like this last month:
“We were the poorest of the poor so Alexis had to earn money any way he could from a very young age. He would wash cars for a few pence or perform somersaults for a handful of coins from onlookers.”
“Sometimes he was so hungry he would knock on the neighbours’ doors and ask for bread. The people in our neighbourhood had to look after eachother.”
“It was a tough life growing up. He was never like some pampered players you hear about. His poor background is what makes him so hungry to succeed on the pitch. He knows how lucky he is to be where he is and never forgets where he came from.”
The vigour these players grew up with highlights their work-rate. They’re proving to fight for their stardom, working the hardest on the field and pleasing their fans who travel miles to see them perform. Their strength and mentality is head and shoulders above the rest. They’ve trained, they’ve known what tough times are like, they are just proud to be where they are and this is their chance to show the world what they’ve developed. Granted, their passion and hot-head may take over, adding a bit of bite to their game if you know what I mean. But you see players like Mesut Ozil, Dimitar Berbatov who stroll the pitch, not smile nor flinch when conceding. It’s the culture, the attitude that these warriors were born into. Hero-worshipped by their nations, they are the stars of the Premier League.
Differentiating from the South-American stars, our home-grown players are well-nurtured from a young age, born into stardom without lifting a finger. Hyped from their debut, a 16 year old gets a run out for five minutes at home in the Capital One Cup, they’re the next big thing. Spoilt by the riches, dressed in Gucci, driving their fancy cars. It’s not the story for all English youngsters, but it’s the difference that plays diffidence between the nations and why we worship the South-Americans that small bit more.
Their finishing is often an attribute they can brag about. Alexis, Aguero and Enner Valencia have given the Premier League one heck of a preview of their abilities, scoring all sorts of goals that fan’s adore. Headers, volleys, acute angle finishes… the lot. These type of players don’t go home on time when training is announced done, no, they stay and improve. I can’t quite explain why they’re all lightning fast, but yes, there’s another skill they all seem to have! Often deployed in offence, it was Arsene Wenger who quoted: ‘Look across Europe and where are the strikers from? Many of them, at least 80 per cent, are from South America’ Their pace and style go hand in hand with the Premier League, as they often adapt immediately to the vigorous, physical challenge that it provides. Now performing on the world’s biggest stage, this talented group of individuals have given their all for this career, so why should they stop now?
It’s not just England that these players are showcased. Standing out all across Europe, you have Iturbe, Tevez and Icardi in Serie A, Neymar, Messi and James in La Liga and Lucas, Cavani and Ocampos in Ligue 1. The main men in their divisions, they also possess the ‘street-fight’ attitude that has led them to the big-time. These sought after stars have all played in England, and if not, have surely been tracked by English clubs. What better stage to perform on?
There’s no bigger event than the World Cup. A competition that all nations relish, this season, it would be the South American countries to stand-out from the crowd. These players show no-time between offence and defence. The transition is very quick, as are the players. Working as a nation, their hard-work and mental desire combines, and their rapid nature of winning the ball back once conceding it, well it makes for the perfect team. Chile, led by Alexis Sanchez, played the most enticing football within the group-games, showing a united effort and spectacular work-rate. Brazil portrayed flair, skill and enticing passing whilst Colombia repeated the same style. Argentina, eventual runners up weren’t half bad themselves. These squads were always the most popular amongst the fans. It’s the football that matters, and these South American’s sure provide the hunger and desire fans want to see when watching such a highly-anticipated event.
Gilberto Silva, Asprilla, Poyet and Nolberto Solano have done it in the past, but now is a new era with this contingent that alights the Premier League. Working hard to lead their clubs to glory, be prepared for the players to run out onto the pitch, not walk. Earning the craved life of being a footballer isn’t easy, and this is certainly the way to go about it. Ask these guys, they’re the real winners. Total-footballers; the new name for this unique category of player and we are DELIGHTED to have them embrace our league.
Thanks for reading,
By Liam Baldock.