By, Carlos Rivas
Kyle’s note: Today’s post is by a soccer blogger pal of mine, Carlos Rivas of www.studzupblog.com. Rivas discusses the relatively recent impact of foreign players in the English Premier League, including many Spanish and South American players. The entire content below was submitted to me by Rivas. It’s a fun read that brings up plenty of old and new talent. Enjoy!
This post from The Football Vault made me reflect on the impact players from the Western Hemisphere have in the Premier League. Nowadays it seems easier for Spanish and Latin American players to find success in the Premier League
Back in the day players were hesitant to make the jump from the warm weather of their home clubs or a familiar culture. And of course, language was also a big barrier. And clubs, likewise, had the same mentality. One has to think really hard to remember the last player that had a superstar status with a Premier League club. Maradona, Batistuta, Recoba, Romario or Francescoli would have never thought on making the jump to the Premier League. The most prestigious leagues were Serie A and La Liga. And with the language being a big factor, in addition to the weather in some places, it was very common to see players from Argentina in Italy and no Spaniard will need to play outside La Liga.
But the new millennium has opened the diversification in the Premier League. And players from Spain and South America are now the bigger stars of a team, or at least a very important part. Maybe it is the globalization of markets. Maybe the purchase power and salary expectations are making the difference. Maybe the pond became too small to make it in Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus or AC Milan.
And don’t get me wrong, Gus Poyet was very vital to the pre-Abramovich Chelsea. Faustino “Tino” Aspirilla scored some nice goals with Newcastle in the 90’s. But that is all we might remember.
We now see Diego Costa (Brazil/Spain), Alexis Sanchez (Chile) and Kun Agüero leading the top scorers in the Premier League. Like the post from The Football Vault said, Luis Suarez was the top scorer last season. But goals are not only coming from Spanish versions. Di Maria was a blockbuster move, and with De Gea, Valencia, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata the Red Devils have a competitive team in Spanish. Now it is up to their boss to play them.
The same thing could be said about City. In addition to Agüero, Jesus Navas, David Silva, Zabaleta and Fernandinho are important pieces to another South American voice: Pelligrini.
Like Jim Collins said in Good To Great. The Spanish success did not happen overnight in the Premier League. There were a series of events that had to take place for the flywheel to continue moving. Maybe Tevez and Mascherano were the pioneers. Maybe it was the defining move that saw 16-year-old Fabregas leave Barcelona for Arsenal. Maybe it was Liverpool’s gamble on taking a chance on a young Xabi Alonso.
Or maybe, it was the Premier League’s ability to expand to new markets, land better television deals and player’s agents seeing the opportunity to tap into new markets. Regardless, Spanish players are now breaking into a new territory in the Premier League: Superstar status. And Football fans around the world are grateful to enjoy even less known players like Joel Campbell (Costa Rica/Arsenal) and Leonardo Ulloa (Argentina/Leicester) overcome the odds of a new language, new culture, new weather and reach success.
For the complete list of Premier League scorers, I found this link. It’s pretty informative, check it out.
And if you feel like remembering El Tino Aspirilla, you can relive his hat-trick against FC Barcelona in the 1997/1998 season. Yes, that is the Barcelona coached by MUFC boss Louis van Gaal and with players like Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique, Luis Figo and Rivaldo, just to name a few.