South America is notorious for some of the worst Premier League players that fans have ever seen. Many players have opted for a move to England only to flop upon arrival. However, the region has also produced some of the greatest footballers of all-time, many of whom are still playing in the Premier League to this day.
We take a look at the greatest South American XI in Premier League history…
Goalkeeper – Heurelho Gomes (Tottenham, Watford)
There are limited options in the between the sticks so I have opted for former Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes. The Brazilian was signed by Juande Ramos from PSV and became the number one at White Hart Lane. His Tottenham career did not go to plan as a number of high-profile blunders left his reputation in tatters. He later moved to Watford and played 44 games for the Hornets as they reached promotion. Gomes was impressive during Watford’s first season in the Premier League and was rewarded with a new contract.
Right-Back – Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City)
Since joining Manchester City from Espanyol in 2008, Pablo Zabaleta has remained one of the club’s most important players. The Argentine joined a day before Sheikh Mansour took over the club and has made the right-back position his own. Zabaleta has made over 300 appearances for the Citizens and has two Premier League medals from his time in Manchester. Zabaleta is an excellent defender but also gets forward to help his side in attack.
Centre Back – David Luiz (Chelsea)
David Luiz joined Chelsea in 2011 which saw £20m and Nemanja Matic head to Benfica. Luiz was known for some erratic defensive performances as the Brazilian could regularly be seen making forward runs from defence. He lifted the Champions League and FA Cup in his first season with the Blues. Luiz was also known for some spectacular long-range goals from defence. The 29-year-old later joined PSG for £50m which made him the most expensive defender in history.
Centre Back – Alex (Chelsea)
Brazilian defender, Alex, was signed by Jose Mourinho from PSV in the summer of 2007. The defender was known for his trademark free-kicks which were usually blasted from distance. He soon became an important member of the first-team during Guus Hiddink’s reign as manager. However, injury problems restricted Alex’s influence on the first-team and the arrival of Luiz led to an official transfer request and a move to PSG; re-uniting with Carlo Ancelotti.
Left-Back – Juliano Belletti (Chelsea)
Though naturally a right-back, Juliano Belletti is our left-back due to limited options in that position. The Brazilian left Barcelona for Stamford Bridge after falling out-of-favour in Spain due to the wealth of defensive options the Catalans had at their disposal. He soon became the first-choice right-back and won Chelsea’s goal of the season in 2008. Belletti became a utility player for the Blues as he could play in a variety of roles and left the club when his contract expired to join Fluminense in 2010.
Centre Midfield – Gilberto Silva (Arsenal)
After some impressive performances in the 2002 World Cup, Brazilian midfielder Gilberto Silva joined Arsenal for just £4m. He enjoyed a fine second season with the Gunners next to Patrick Vieira in the engine room. Gilberto was instrumental as Arsenal went the entire Premier League season unbeaten in their road to lifting the trophy. He spent six successful years in North London becoming a hugely influential player under Arsene Wenger but left to join Panathinaikos when he found first-team appearances limited. Gilberto is remembered as one of Arsenal’s and the Premier League’s greatest ever midfielders.
Centre Midfield – Javier Mascherano (West Ham, Liverpool)
Another South American midfielder to make his name in the Premier League was Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano. The Argentina international initially moved to England with West Ham but complications with the legitimacy of the transfer led to a loan move to Liverpool. He quickly became a crucial player alongside Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso meaning the Reds made his transfer permanent for around £20m. He was held in high regard at Anfield and the club would not block his dream move to Barcelona in 2010 where he has won numerous Spanish league and cup titles as well as two Champions League crowns.
Centre Midfield – Gus Poyet (Chelsea, Tottenham)
Uruguayan legend, Gus Poyet, joined Chelsea on a free transfer in 1997. The former Real Zaragoza playmaker won the Cup Winners’ Cup in his first season with the Blues and scored 14 goals in his second season in England. He continued his fantastic goalscoring form for Chelsea in the following campaign where he added another 18 goals to his record. He left following the arrival of Claudio Raneiri with 49 goals in 145 appearances from midfield. Poyet joined Tottenham where he ended his career before managerial spells with Brighton, Sunderland, AEK Athens and currently Real Betis.
Right Forward – Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Arguably the best striker in the world, Luis Suarez blossomed into a world-class forward during his time with Liverpool. The Reds spent £20m on the Uruguayan international from Ajax who quickly marked his arrival with a lovely chipped finish against Stoke on his debut. Suarez nearly fired Liverpool to their first Premier League table in 2014 and broke numerous club and Premier League goalscoring records. He scored 31 goals in 33 appearances and was named PFA Player of the Year. He later joined Barcelona for just over £60m and has gone from strength-to-strength alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Left Forward – Carlos Tevez (West Ham, Manchester United, Manchester City)
Argentinian striker, Carlos Tevez, was another player to join West Ham in a controversial transfer from Corinthians. Nevertheless, Tevez became a cult hero for the Hammers as his goals secured safety in the Premier League; including a strike against Manchester United on the final day of the season. Tevez went on to join the Red Devils initially on a two-year-loan deal due to complications over his ownership rights. He was in fantastic form for United who wanted to make the deal permanent only for Tevez to join rivals Manchester City instead. The forward lifted the Premier League trophy with City before leaving for Juventus.
Striker – Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Sergio Aguero cemented his name in the history books when he netted the stoppage time, title winning goal for Manchester City against QPR back in 2012. Aguero is one of the most clinical strikers in the world and continues to show his worth to the Citizens. Despite being extremely injury prone, the Argentina international consistently delivers when it matters most meaning he is one of the most feared strikers on the planet. The former Atletico Madrid striker has scored 137 goals in just 209 appearances since moving to Manchester.