Here is a small piece on South American football players who will be gracing a league near you this season (that’s if you’re in Europe):
Dorlan Pabon to Parma
The Atletico Nacional forward set the group stages of the Copa Libertadores alight, tearing ahead of Neymar, Damiao and co as the tournaments early leading goalscorer. He is the owner of a thunderous right foot and isn’t shy to use it. His tendency to shoot when given any opportunity does tend to draw some complaints from team-mates but this guy will give us a few jaw dropping moments in Serie A this season.
Junior Fernandes to Bayer Leverkusen
Fernandes was one of the stars of this season’s Universidad de Chile side. He almost always played out wide left with licence to drift inside at will. His directness and pace caused right-backs all over the continent problems in the Copa Libertadores. Although La U were knocked out in the semi-finals, Fernandes did disappoint from the quarter finals onwards as the sides Universidad de Chile met – Libertad and then Boca Juniors – took the approach of sitting deep against the ultra attacking La U and hitting them on the counter. Fernandes struggled badly playing in these highly congested areas of the pitch. It will nonetheless be interesting to see if he can make the step up in the Bundesliga. On his day he is thrilling to watch.
Alexis Rolin to Catania
The imposing centre-half has made the move to Serie A from Uruguay’s Nacional. He came to wide-known prominence in this season’s Copa Libertadroes after some outstanding performances in a very difficult group for Nacional. Rolin is a player whose physicality can take him to the very top. At times though he has been criticized for his over-exuberance in tackles and it is sometimes this lack of discipline that hinders him but if he matures somewhat in his first season at Catania, it will be no surprise to see some of the bigger fish in Serie A trying to take him.
Leandro Castan to Roma
Castan was a crucial player in Corinthians winning last season’s Campeonato Brasileiro and this year’s Copa Libertadores. After a failed spell at Helsingborgs in Sweden, he returned to Brazil and had to rebuild his career. He signed for Corinthians in 2010 and his performances in the past year have surprised everyone who knew him. At Corinthians he rose up from a roatation player to a central figure of the side. The fans of Corinthian took a real liking to the player and admired him for his no-nonsense approach and his passion. Some have even showed disappointment at the clubs decision to let him leave for only 5.5m euros. Castan is very similar to Rolin mentioned above. He is a physically imposing left-footed centre-back who relishes a physical battle. Castan though possesses a level of maturity that Rolin hasn’t yet reached. He is getting better and better every single month and being a starter with Roma is sure to make him a contender for a spot in the Brazilian 2014 World Cup squad.
Jackson Martinez to Porto
Commonly referred to as Jackson, he banged in the goals or Independiente Medellin and then Mexican side Jaguares. Last season Porto had to watch the borderline comedy act of Kleber and then Marc Janko at centre-forward. Neither one of these ever looked comfortable leading the line, constantly looking out of tune from the rest of the squad. Jackson cannot be compared to Falcao as he does not the deft touch of his compatriot, but he should still be a good addition to Porto’s starting line-up. His incessant movement and pace will give him a leg over last season’s centre-forwards and he arrives on piping hot form.
Lucas Ocampos to AS Monaco
In one of the more surprising moves of the summer, Monaco picked up one of the hottest young Argentinian prospects. This is the second summer in a row that River Plate have sold one of their most prized possessions, with Eric Lamela leaving for Roma last summer. Although they currently linger in Ligue 2, Monaco are an ambitious club and the signing of Ocampos showed this more than anything. Comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo may be flattering but Ocampos does move with the same grace and style CR7 does. For a player who spends much of his time out wide, he is also remarkably strong in the air. Question marks may be raised over whether Ranieri is the right man to guide Ocampos at such an impressionable point in his career.
Giovanni Moreno to Shanghai Shenhua
Moreno’s last couple of years have been ones to forget. A serious injury put him out of the game long-term, and after relapsing once returning, he finally found his way back to fitness. He struggled to find the form that once earned him the label of the future of Colombian football before his move to Argentina. Dorlan Pabon, mentioned above on this article, was the player Ateltico Nacional brought in to fill the void left by Moreno’s departure to Racing Club. The fact that Racing Club struggled at the wrong end of the table last season did not help Moreno. The move to China is an intriguing one and at Shanghai Shenhua we will see him line-up in a formidable attack alongside Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba. A trio which should exude copious amounts of entertainment in the Chinese Super League.
Angelo Henriquez to Manchester United
Henriquez is one of the trio of stars to leave Universidad de Chile for Europe this summer – the others being the previously mentioned Junior Fernandes who left for Bayern Leverkusen and Marcelo Diaz to Basel. Henriquez, usually deployed out on the right hand side but with freedom to roam inside, bestowed us with some terrific performances in the Copa Libertadores this year. Perhaps his most stand-out was La U’s 6-0 home victory over Deportivo Quito (overturning a 4-1 away defeat in Ecuador) in which he bagged a second half brace in the last sixteen round. Even at the later stages of the tournament when the likes of Junior Fernandes on the opposite wing started to become suffocated by opposing defences, Henriquez still showed moments of brilliance. In the second leg home tie against Boca Juniors in the semi-finals, Universidad de Chile tried in vain to overcome a 2-0 away defeat in Argentina. Every single positive move that night from La U came though Henriquez, his awareness and ability to spot and find a pass instantly and his intelligent lay-offs became the only source of life for the Chilean attack. Although the game ended 0-0, Henriquez was one of the La U players to look comfortable at that level. Caution must be erred though as Diego Rubio, a similarly hyped player formerly of Colo Colo of Chile, made the move from Chile to Sporting CP just over a year ago and he has failed to make the grade of yet. Henriquez is currently older than Rubio was when he made the jump and he has shone at a higher level than Rubio.