top of page

Why the Premier League needs to pursue a love affair with South America

Brighton's Julio Enciso

Brighton’s Julio Enciso marked Paraguay’s Independence Day with a second half strike which ultimately led to Arsenal’s Premier League title capitulation. The 19-year-old also became the youngest Paraguayan to score against the Gunners.

This wasn’t his first Premier League goal. A 91st minute strike helped Brighton secure all three points away to Bournemouth, before his wonder goal at Stamford Bridge almost exactly a month ago caught plenty of attention.

Enciso’s very own segment on Match Of The Day that evening saw pundits laud more praise on Brighton’s scouting system, after Kaoru Mitoma’s breakthrough season proving to be extremely successful, to undersell the Japanese’s debut year in the Premier League.

I can speak for most Brighton fans who must have been curiously watching YouTube clips when the club announced they had signed Julio Enciso for almost £10m from Paraguayan club Libertad, as the club continued to explore away from Europe for further profitable players.

Premier League teams following suit

Brighton aren’t the only club who has opted to search through South America for potential stars. Nottingham Forest spent £17.5m on Palmeiras’ Danilo in the January transfer window, and with three goals in his last four matches, the 22-year-old could well be Steve Cooper’s saviour as Forest moved out of the relegation zone thanks to the Brazilian’s recent contributions.

Wolves are another club which appears to have seen the light, who fought tooth and nail to land Joao Gomes’ signature from Flamengo last summer.

The 22-year-old has only featured in nine Premier League matches to date, but with two Copa Libertadores titles to his name, who played a key role in shielding their defence, there’s no reason why he can’t continue to progress and step up in the most challenging league in world football.

It isn’t just the so-called smaller clubs who enjoy a bargain from the South American continent. Manchester City signed River Plate’s Julian Alvarez for £14m plus add ons in 2022.

Despite living in Erling Haaland’s shadow this season, the Argentine has still contributed 13 goals across all competitions.

This wasn’t the first time the Premier League champions have brought a successful striker to England’s shores. Gabriel Jesus signed back in 2016 from Palmieras and after six glorious seasons for the Cityzens where he won ten trophies, he secured a summer move to North London in 2022.

Brazilian football has always caught the attention of football fans across the globe. It’s hard to ignore a country which has won five World Cup trophies.

Yet with the Premier League only having a total of 34 Brazilians in the league to date – it begs the question; why aren’t English teams exploring the South American market more?

Time and time again clubs have fallen out of the Premier League, and often fallen further, due to poor investments, or the lack of expanding their transfer activity out of Europe. With transfer fees prices and agent fees only continuing to soar, it’s time for teams to be smarter in the market.

Obscene prices pushes clubs elsewhere

The summer transfer window is around the corner, and the club’s outside of the so-called big six are once again set to struggle with the ludicrous prices of players which have proven themselves on these shores.

West Ham’s Declan Rice has been rumoured to cost more than over £100m this summer, while Brentford’s boss Thomas Frank has claimed fellow England international Ivan Toney should be worth a similar figure with other clubs interested.

These figures only highlight the importance that Premier League clubs should be scouting across South America, as well as Asia – it almost feels like a must in this day and age.

However, this isn’t a completely alien process as Brighton, Nottingham Forest and Wolves have all shown that in this day and age young prospects who can grow into stars are in fact available – and often for a fraction of the price.

Of course, not every Brazilian brought to the Premier League will be the next Neymar – Matheus Cunha, for example, has struggled to adapt to the demands of England’s top-flight in his debut season. Yet with a healthy CV including Atletico Madrid and Leipzig, it’s too early to be too critical.

There’s a clear appetite from South American players to come over to the Premier League and prove themselves – and although some will argue this pushes native players in academies further down the pecking order, clubs have been guilty of pushing out their youngsters for years with unnecessary expensive transfers.

The South American market remains untapped when it comes to the Premier League, but recent performances from Enciso and Danilo will have turned plenty of heads, and as a result a change in approach may be adopted by more clubs in the coming transfer windows.


bottom of page