It is something of a surprise that until this year Gus Poyet was the only Uruguayan footballer to make a real impact in the Premier League. The South American nation may have a small population, similar to Wales at 3.5 million, but traditionally its footballers are physically robust, tactically astute, and expected to travel.
With Uruguay's recent success in the World Cup and Copa America, their invisibility on these shores appears to be changing. Sebastian Coates yesterday joined Luis Suarez at Liverpool and Alvaro Pereira is being pursued by Chelsea.
Andre Villas-Boas yesterday confirmed his old club, Porto, had received a bid for Pereira but said: "We're very far apart in terms of numbers and it'll be very difficult to make it happen, I'm not confident."
Nevertheless, since Chelsea have deep pockets, and Porto's business plan is predicated on developing talent then selling it on, a compromise should be achievable. At 25, with two years in Portugal behind him, Pereira is ripe to be sold and in Alex Sandro, the 20-year-old £8.5m Brazilian left-back, Porto have already signed a replacement.
Pereira did not travel to Monaco yesterday ahead of tonight's European Super Cup final against Barcelona, though his coach Vitor Pereira (no relation) said he "will return in the future".
Villas-Boas was yesterday reluctant to discuss another target, Spurs' Luka Modric, but had no qualms praising Pereira. "He has tremendous influence in the Uruguayan international team as well as Porto. He can play on the inside in midfield, on the left of midfield or at left-back and he plays regularly. Last season he had a shoulder problem but before that he hardly missed a match."
One player Villas-Boas has managed to secure is Juan Mata, despite Valencia being as loath to lose him as Tottenham and Porto are Modric and Pereira. "It was difficult in the beginning of the negotiations with Valencia," said Villas-Boas. "He was one of their biggest assets and they weren't very open to talk. We lost a couple of days. It's a big addition to the squad. He has an eye for goal and a magnificent record for assists throughout his career."
Mata is unlikely to start against Norwich on Saturday as Villas-Boas feels he will need time to acclimatise. "This league is very different in terms of intensity," he said.Reuse content