Flair, flicks, and passion - The top 10 most valuable Premier League South Americans
In 1994, Ipswich Town’s Uruguayan midfielder Adrían Paz became the first South American to play in the Premier League. Ever since, viewers have had the pleasure of watching some world-class talent, trickery, flair and class from players from the South American continent. From Juninho’s infamous free-kicks, to Luis Suarez’ sumptuous half-volleys, to Fernandinho’s impassioned midfield displays, South Americans have dazzled on the English stage. Argentinian Sergio Agüero is also the highest foreign goalscorer of all-time in the English top-flight with 184 goals.
Outside of Englishmen, Brazil currently have the most players in the Premier League with 32, with a further 27 players from the other South American nations in the league, highlighting the influx of the continent’s stars making the move to England, but which of these players have the highest market values?
Which players make the top 10?
The most valuable South American import to the Premier League is Chelsea’s Moisés Caicedo (Market value: €90 million), signed for €116m from Brighton in the summer. Last season, only Declan Rice, then of West Ham, made more interceptions than Caicedo in the Premier League, and he also made the fifth most tackles, with his dominant midfield performances earning him the big money move to Stamford Bridge. The second most valuable South American is Newcastle midfielder Bruno Guimarães (MV: €85m) after a superb campaign, where he scored four and assisted four from midfield, and in which Newcastle finished fourth place and qualified for the Champions League.
Next up are three players all valued at €80m - Arsenal’s Brazilian winger Gabriel Martinelli, Chelsea midfielder Enzo Fernández and Manchester City forward Julián Álvarez. Martinelli was the third highest scoring winger in the Premier League last season, whilst Álvarez has become a regular in City’s star-studded side, playing just off of Erling Haaland in a central role, and has scored seven goals in 18 games this term. Fernández was signed for a Premier League record €120m last January from Benfica, after winning young player of the tournament in the World Cup as Argentina triumphed.
Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus and Liverpool’s Colombian winger Luis Díaz are the next pair, both valued at €75m. Jesus hasn’t been prolific since trading Pep Guardiola’s Man City for Mikel Arteta’s Gunners, but his tireless work-rate and link up play have made him a fan favourite at the Emirates, whilst Diaz will be hoping for an injury free season, after a knee problem ruled him out of 21 Premier League games last term. The Liverpool duo of Uruguayan striker Darwin Núñez and Argentine Alexis Mac Allister, alongside West Ham’s Lucas Paquetá, complete the list - all valued at €65m.
Scott Christensen, Transfermarkt Area manager in Argentina:
“Caicedo played for a year in South America (at Independiente del Valle - a team brilliant at working with young players) before being sold to Brighton. He was outstanding in the U20 Copa Libertadores won by IDV, where he was the club’s captain and where he actually faced Enzo Fernández’s River Plate in the final. He always dreamed of playing for Chelsea but I would have never expected the €116m fee the Blues paid for him.
“Fernández, as mentioned, is a player from River's youth team. Surprisingly for the star he ended up becoming, Enzo was loaned to Defensa y Justicia instead of easily establishing himself in River's first team. His performance at Defensa was outstanding and therefore after a year, he returned to River and since then he never stopped growing as a player. After just two years in the 1st Division he was sold to Benfica, where he had outstanding numbers and 6 months later sold to Chelsea. He had just played about two friendlies before the World Cup but they were enough for the coach to consider him. His talent was clear and Lionel Scaloni decided to play him over Leandro Paredes at the start of the tournament. I think we'll see the best of him ahead of Caicedo.
“Álvarez is 23 years old and has already won everything. He wasn't a starter in the Copa Libertadores and Champions League but he's won both. In Argentina, Julián was the same player you see now at Man City, he really works for his team and is one of the least selfish players I've ever seen. He just likes to play and win and you'll probably never see him with a bad attitude. Marcelo Gallardo made him adapt slowly at the 1st Division level, but his performances and goalscoring abilities earned him a place in the starting eleven very quickly. 2020/21 was his breakthrough season where he showed he was a top talent. He was top scorer of the Argentine league and won the TM player of the season award with more than 60% of the votes.”
Marcos Watts, Transfermarkt Area manager for Brazil:
“Guimarães left Athletico Paranaense as a very promising player for all he did as a youngster in the club and for the U20 and U23 National Teams - he was a key player for the Gold Medal winners in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. For how well he developed at Lyon, it was no surprise to see Newcastle paying €42.1m to get him. He's now a key player for Brazil's midfield and it should remain like that for the next few years.
“We only saw Gabriel Martinelli play in the regional tournaments as a pro in Brazil. Most people don't even remember he played for Ituano before joining Arsenal, but he was also in the Olympic gold medalist squad - not playing as big a role as Guimarães, but he had a very well deserved place in the team. Everything else regarding his development should be merited to Arsenal. He's currently not a starter in the National Team, but blame it on Brazil's impressive amount of attacking options (and Vini Jr). If he stays at this pace, he could be Brazil's 12th man or even a starter in a different role in the near future.”
Top 20 Most Valuable Premier League South Americans
Updated November 13th, 2023