There was once a time when Premier League clubs buying players directly from South America, specifically Brazil and Argentina, was borderline out of the question.
Sure, many of the game’s finest Brazilian and Argentine players have plied their trade in England’s top flight, but usually they had moved to Europe first before venturing over to England.
But there’s been a recent shift in the transfer dynamic, with January 2023 seeing a number of players from the continent arrive directly in the Premier League.
It’s a trend that is likely to continue, too, with a whole host of South American talent dominating the gossip columns both online and in print format.
The big question is, what’s changed?
There are a number of reasons why more players are going from Brazil and Argentina straight to the Premier League, but perhaps there is no bigger reason than Brexit.
The FA introduced new visa rules for overseas players as a result of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union – a points-based immigration system dependant on the strength of the league being played in.
Brazil and Argentina’s top flight have a higher status than many European leagues – increasing the chances of a player getting a work permit – and that’s opened up a whole new avenue of career opportunities for players who previously had to rely on the amount of international caps earned at senior level.
Players in Brazil, Argentina and other South American countries are largely more affordable too because accepted bids make up for the shortfall in commercial revenue, advertising and television money on offer in Europe – we all know how inflated transfer fees are on the continent.
Put simply, Premier League clubs are sensing an opportunity to sign top quality players at source, rather than paying a premium further down the line. It’s why there’s so many more stories of scouting teams being down in South America than there’s ever been before.
For the players in question, they can come to England and develop their game when they hit 18 years old, and no longer have to be fully-fledged internationals before they get the opportunity to spread their wings.
Football in South America is incredibly competitive but there’s no doubting that the pace and ferocity of the Premier League is bound to improve a player’s skillset.
That, coupled with the opportunity to train using state of the art facilities and work under the game’s finest managers, is a big draw for players looking to get their big break.
More and more talented teenagers are making the leap, knowing that loan moves are on offer should they take a little bit more to develop and adapt to their surroundings.
Danilo and Andrey Santos are perhaps the two highest profile arrivals in the January 2023 transfer window, joining Nottingham Forest and Chelsea respectively from Palmerias and Vasco de Gama.
Argentine maestro Carlos Alcaraz has joined Southampton from Racing Club, Brighton have signed Facundo Buonanotte, while West Ham have also got in on the act to sign centre-back Luizao from Sao Paulo.
Marcos Leonardo, Vitor Roque and Matheus Franca headline another cluster of talented players on the radar of Premier League clubs, so don’t be surprised to see the number of completed transfers rise before the winter window closes.