It’s safe to say that when it comes to producing players with the perfect mix of flair, technical brilliance, and a certain element of shithousery, no continent quite does it like South America. We’ve been lucky to be able to see some of the best of these players ply their trade in our beloved Premier League over the years, and here we take a look at five of the best.
5. Pablo Zabaleta – Manchester City and West Ham
A hugely popular player and a key figure in the rise of Manchester City, Pablo Zabaleta arrived in Manchester in 2008 as the final signing prior to the clubs takeover by Sheik Mansour.
The Argentine full back was a model of consistency in almost a decade at the Etihad, winning two Premier League titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup as City emerged as a dominant force in English football.
Zabaleta also won the club’s Player of The Season award in 2012/13, and left the club for West Ham on a free transfer in 2017 where he continues to play in the Premier League. He left City having made 229 Premier League appearances for the club and scoring eight goals, including the crucial opener in the dramatic 3-2 win against QPR that sealed the title in 2012.
Testament to his commitment and consistency, on leaving City he was given a lifetime season ticket at the club.
4. Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal and Manchester United
Signed by Arsenal from Barcelona in the summer of 2014, Chilean superstar Alexis Sanchez quickly established himself amongst the Premier League’s finest players.
Quick, creative and with a tireless work-rate, Sanchez soon emerged as a fan’s favourite and won the club’s Player of The Year award in his debut season and again in 2016/17.
In his first season at Arsenal, he helped the club retain the FA Cup and was named PFA Fans Player of The Year having scored 16 goals in 35 Premier League appearances.
Perhaps his finest individual season for The Gunners came in 2016/17, scoring 30 goals in 51 appearances in all competitions, whilst providing a further 13 assists. That season he also won a second FA Cup, with Sanchez scoring in the final as Arsenal won the competition for the third time in four seasons.
With his contract running down, and having become frustrated with Arsenal’s inability to compete for the Premier League, Sanchez left the club for Manchester United in January 2018 in a straight swap for Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
His form since the move has been inconsistent, but United fans will be hoping the Sanchez that was so impressive at Arsenal can return to form at Old Trafford.
3. Carlos Tevez – West Ham United, Manchester United, and Manchester City
Perhaps one of the most controversial figures in Premier League history and the only South American to have won the Premier League with two clubs, Carloz Tevez arrived at West Ham in 2006 in a deal that shook the football world.
The unveiling of Tevez, alongside compatriot Javier Mascherano, stunned the division and the deals for the Argentine internationals were the first transfers that truly highlighted the issue regarding third party ownership of players.
Not that this should take away from the talents of the Argentine striker. In 2006/07, it was Tevez’s winner against Manchester United that saw West Ham survive relegation on the final day, having almost single handedly kept the club in the division with a run of seven goals in the final weeks of the season.
His form late in that season persuaded Sir Alex Ferguson to bring the Argentine to Manchester United where he would form a potent attacking trio with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. He would win two Premier League titles and a Champions League at Old Trafford.
Controversially, he left United to join neighbours Manchester City in 2009, becoming the first player in a decade to cross the city divide and prompting the memorable ‘Welcome to Manchester’ banner.
At City, he would go on to win a further Premier League title and an FA Cup, and left the Premier League for Juventus in 2013 having scored 84 Premier League goals in 202 appearances.
2. Luis Suarez – Liverpool
Another South American forward associated with controversy as much as his precocious talents, Luis Suarez arrived at Liverpool on deadline day of January 2011 as a replacement for Chelsea bound Fernando Torres.
Inheriting the famed number 7 shirt, the Uruguayan made an immediate impact, scoring on his debut as a substitute against Stoke City. From there the goals continued to come, he scored 11 the following season as Liverpool won the 2012 League Cup. However his season was marred by a three-match ban having been found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
In 2012/12, he began to establish himself as one of the league’s finest players, scoring 23 Premier League goals, winning the club’s Player of the Year award and earning a place in the PFA Team of The Year.
The following season, despite missing the opening five games following a ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, Suarez enjoyed perhaps one of the finest individual seasons the Premier League has seen.
The Uruguayan scored 31 goals in just 33 appearances as Liverpool came agonisingly close to a maiden Premier League title, winning the PFA Player of The Year, FWA Footballer of The Year, Premier League Golden Boot and The European Golden Shoe.
He was also named in the PFA Team of the Season and as Liverpool’s Player of The Year for the second consecutive season.
He left the Premier League in 2014 for Barcelona, having scored 69 Premier League goals in 110 appearances.
1. Sergio Aguero – Manchester City
The highest scoring non-European in Premier League history and Manchester City’s all-time record goal scorer, Sergio Aguero has been one of the competitions very best players since his arrival in English football in 2011.
Signed from Atletico Madrid, the Argentine was instrumental in delivering City’s first title in 44 years at the end of his debut season. Having scored twice on his debut against Swansea City, Aguero would go on to score 23 league goals that year, including the dramatic, stoppage time winner against QPR on the final day that delivered the league title.
Since then, he has added a further two league titles in 2014 and 2018, as well as three League Cups and two Community Shield trophies.
The 2014/15 season saw Aguero win the Premier League Golden Boot, whilst he was crowned Manchester City’s Player of The Year in both 2011/12 and 2014/15. Somewhat remarkably, 2017/18 was the first time the Argentine has been name in the PFA Team of the Year.
This is despite Aguero boasting the best minutes-to-goals ratio in Premier League history, averaging a goal every 107 minutes and his 146 league goals has seen him enter the top 10 goal-scorers in the division’s history.
Aged just 30, and leading the line for Pep Guardiola’s current champions, Aguero has plenty of time to move himself further up that list and further into Premier League folklore.