The imminent arrival of Sergio Aguero at Manchester City is part of the growing trend towards Premier League clubs recruiting players from South America.
Increasingly clubs are viewing imports from the traditional football strongholds of Argentina and Brazil as providing good value for money, although most of the sums spent are far less than the £38m that City are having to lay out to convince Atletico Madrid to part with Aguero.
Recruitment of players from South American countries annually accounts for nine per cent of all transfers in the Premier League. According to figures from football analysts Prozone, the figure has gradually increased over the past five years, up from 7.9 per cent in the summer of 2006. In the last window in January 2011, that figure was up to 12 per cent of all transfers into top flight clubs.
The rise in interest comes despite a marked rise in interest in British players, thanks to the home-grown quotas that apply to the English top flight and have added an extra premium to players from these shores.
In January, 46 per cent of all transfers involved British players, compared to 33 per cent in summer 2010 and 39 per cent in January 2010.
An important factor in the trend towards South American players has been a marked increase in players bought directly from clubs in their home countries, rather than via a club in continental Europe.
A recent report by Prozone states: "FA Premier League clubs are increasingly looking towards Latin America for new talent. This follows a trend in Spain and Italy where nearly 50 per cent of all "expatriate" players recently recruited were from South America. There has been an 8.9 per cent increase in the number of players recruited from South American divisions into the Premier League over the last four years."
It clearly pays to recruit directly from the source. Aguero will cost City £38m, but was valued at £20m when he joined Atletico from Independiente in Buenos Aires in 2006. A more extreme example is Kaka, who cost Milan £7.5m to recruit from Sao Paulo in 2003, and was sold for £56m to Real Madrid in 2009.
The Home Office immigration rules mean it is impossible for English football to become packed with South Americans like the leagues in Spain, Italy and Portugal. There is however a growing enclave of Latin expatriates who have dispelled the theory that players from South America cannot thrive in English football, following a succession of expensive flops such as Robinho, Juan Sebastian Veron and Hernan Crespo.
In all, there were 28 players from South America in the Premier League last season, including 12 Brazilians and eight Argentines.
Manchester United have three Brazilians in their first-team squad – Anderson and the Da Silva twins – and Ecuador's Antonio Valencia. The expectation is more will follow. United have first refusal on five young Brazilian teenagers, who flew to England last March and were guests at United's home game with Bolton.
Chelsea are also taking their Latin lessons, with Brazilians Alex, Ramires and David Luiz already on their books, and teenage sensation Lucas Piazon due to join in January. They also have taken out an option to buy three of the best youngsters at Fluminense as part of the deal that saw Deco move to Rio de Janeiro 12 months ago.
There are also three Brazilians at Liverpool – Lucas Leiva, Fabio Aurelio and Alexander Doni – and two Argentines – Maxi Rodriguez and Emiliano Insua – and the Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez.
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