Willian, Fulham
Fulham's Brazilian forward Willian
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The four South American players with 300+ Premier League appearances

Across the three decades of its existence, the Premier League has been a haven for some of the best footballing talent from around the globe.

From Sergio Aguero to Luis Suarez, South America has provided English football with plenty of world class players.

On Wednesday night, Fulham’s Willian became just the fourth player from the continent to reach 300 Premier League appearances in the Cottagers’ demolition of Nottingham Forest.

Here is the full list of four and a look back at their spells in England’s top flight:

 

The four South American players with 300+ Premier League appearances

Nolberto Solano (302) – Peru

Nolberto Solano became the first South American to reach the 300-match milestone in 2008, while playing for West Ham United.

The Peruvian first arrived in the Premier League at Newcastle United from Boca Juniors in 1998, becoming part of a successful Magpies side under Sir Bobby Robson across the turn of the millennium.

Solano went on to play over 300 times for the club, while also having a spell at Aston Villa before departing the Premier League after a stint at West Ham.

A right midfielder with terrific technical ability, Solano also became the league’s first ever Peruvian and registered 49 goals and 62 assists in 302 Premier League appearances.

Antonio Valencia (325) – Ecuador

99-time Ecuador international Antonio Valencia took his first steps into the Premier League with Wigan Athletic, joining the Latics from Villarreal in 2006.

But it was at Manchester United where he really made his name. Transitioning from a utility right winger to a key starting right-back and captain, Valencia won six major honours at Old Trafford, including two league titles.

Clocking his 300th league appearance during the 2017/18 season, where he also won Goal of the Month for an outrageous strike against Everton in September, the Ecuadorian is certainly one of South America’s most underrated Premier League exports.

Pablo Zabaleta (303) – Argentina

The third South American to reach this milestone was one of the league’s finest ever right-backs – Pablo Zabaleta.

Arriving at Manchester City as a relatively unknown 23-year-old from Espanyol in 2008, ‘Zaba’, as he was more affectionately known, won the hearts of the Etihad faithful with displays of true passion and grit.

The Argentine was also capable of making marauding runs up and down the right flank, the like which helped him win the club’s Player of the Year award for the 2012/13 season.

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With two league titles and a further three domestic cups, Zabaleta remains a major cult hero for City and received many warm receptions when returning to Manchester with West Ham, after moving to the capital in 2017.

He hit the 300-game mark while playing for the Irons in his final season before retirement in 2019/20.

Willian – Brazil

Two-time league champion Willian celebrated becoming the first Brazilian to reach 300 appearances in the competition with an assist against Nottingham Forest, in Fulham’s 5-0 win on Wednesday.

The veteran has proven to be a shrewd addition for Marco Silva’s side, despite a failed stint at Arsenal.

Willian’s most certainly Brazilian but while he’s been plying his trade in England, he’s always been a London man.

After winning two titles among his honours with Chelsea, the former Shakhtar Donetsk man remains fondly remembered at Stamford Bridge. His time with the Blues saw the winger claim 63 goals and 62 assists across more than 300 appearances.

Now 35, and almost halfway through his second season at Craven Cottage, who knows how much longer Willian will stay in the Premier League? His current performance levels are showing no signs of dropping. Right-sided South Americans are clearly tailor-made for the Premier League.

Read – Five longest unbeaten home runs in Premier League history

See more – Michael Owen Exclusive: Greatest XI of former teammates

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