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The top 5 best and worst Brazilians to play in the Premier League

Some samba stars have proved more of a success than others during their time in England.
Jun 24th 2015, 2:00 PM 12,568 27

NEWS BROKE THIS morning that Liverpool had made their fifth signing of the summer transfer window, with the capture of Brazilian attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino for a fee reported to be £21.3 million.

Firmino had a superb season in 2014/15 with Hoffenheim, scoring seven goals and racking up 10 assists. He has also impressed during this summer’s Copa America but the debate has already begun on whether he can be a success in the Premier League.

From Oscar and Coutinho to Afonso Alves and Kleberson, some samba stars have proved more of a success than others during their time in England.

Here, we take a look back at 5 of the worst and 5 of the best Brazilian players of the Premier League era.

The best…

Gilberto Silva

Source: EMPICS Sport

Gilberto Silva was a vital part of the famous “Invincibles” side, who went unbeaten for an entire season on their way to winning the Premier League in 2003/04.

After an impressive showing for Brazil at the 2002 World Cup, Silva moved to North London and quickly became a fan favourite. Not simply a holding midfielder, Arsenal fans will remember him for his excellent distribution and as an expert from the penalty spot.

The defensive midfielder went on to make 244 appearances for the Gunners, where he won two FA Cups and one Premier League title. After six years at the club, the Gunners’ vice-captain moved to Panathinaikos in 2008.


Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Oscar signed for Chelsea in the summer of 2012, for a fee reported to be in the region of £25 million. At just 23, the attacking midfielder has already established himself as a regular for club and country.

An impressive debut season ended with 12 goals, plenty of assists and a Europa League winner’s medal. He was one of Brazil’s best players at the 2014 World Cup, scoring twice on their way to the semi-finals of the tournament.

He carried that form into this season, scoring seven goals and winning the Premier League title and the Capital One Cup.


Source: AP/Press Association Images

Philippe Coutinho joined Liverpool in January 2013 from Inter Milan, for a bargain price of £8.5 million. He has quickly become one of Europe’s most coveted creative midfielders. His sublime touch, passing range and vision has made him arguably the best player at the Anfield club.

Although Liverpool struggled for large parts of the season, Coutinho was one of the few consistent performers. He scored five goals and got five assists over the course of the league campaign, earning him a place in the PFA Barclays Premier League Team of the Year.


Source: Adam Davy

Ramires joined Chelsea from Benfica in 2010 on a four-year contract. Like Lucas Leiva at Liverpool, Ramires does not have the traditional Brazilian skill set. He is known more for being quick, direct and for his tough-tackling. But over the course of his Chelsea career, he has shown that he has the ability to score goals — and important ones at that. There were few more influential players in their triumphant 2012 Champions League campaign.

Ramires has won the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup and Capital One Cup so far in his Chelsea career. He had another successful year in 2014-15, scoring 4 goals and contributing 4 assists.


Source: Mike Egerton

In the mid-’90s, Juninho became the best and most loved Brazilian to play in the Premier League. The diminutive midfielder joined Middlesbrough in 1995, a surprising move that made him only the second Brazilian to ply his trade in England.

His silky skills and eye for goal made him a cult hero. This status was only further cemented when he cried following Boro’s relegation in 1997. In that same season, Juninho had played an integral part in guiding the side to both the League and FA Cup finals.

He left Boro soon after their relegation but rejoined in 2004, winning the League Cup with them in that year. He later told the BBC that winning that trophy with Middlesbrough meant more to him than winning the 2002 World Cup.

And the worst…

Afonso Alves

Source: AP/Press Association Images

There was great excitement at Middlesbrough in 2008 when the Teeside club broke their transfer record to sign Brazilian striker Afonso Alves, for a fee believed to be in excess of £10 million.

Alves had built up quite the reputation in Holland after scoring 45 goals in 38 games for Heerenveen. Alves’ most memorable moment in a Boro shirt came in his fifth appearance for the club, when he scored a brace against Manchester United.

In his first full season he managed just four goals in 31 league games. Following their relegation at the end of the 2008/09 season, the striker was sold to Qatari side Al-Sadd.


Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Manchester United signed Kleberson for a fee of £6.5 million in 2003, as a replacement for the departing Juan Sebastian Veron. He became the first Brazilian to play for the Old Trafford club.

The 2002 World Cup winner was injured in his second appearance for the club and only managed 12 appearances in his first season. The following season he could manage just eight and ended up being sold in 2005. He scored just two goals during his time at United.


Source: AP/Press Association Images

There was a real sense of excitement when Manchester City announced the signing of Jo in 2008. At the time it was rumoured that the undisclosed fee was around £19 million, which would have been a club record transfer for the club at the time. It was later discovered that the fee was closer to £6m.

The striker, formerly of Corinthians and CSKA Moscow, had scored 44 goals in 77 games in Russia but managed just one goal for City before being loaned out to Everton in 2009.He was then sent out to Galatasaray on loan and was eventually sold on to Brazilian side Internacional in 2011.

Roque Junior

Source: EMPICS Sport

Leeds United fans could be forgiven for having high hopes when Roque Junior arrived at Elland Road on loan in 2003/04.

The Brazilian was on the books of AC Milan at the time and Leeds fans’ believed that a defender of his quality was exactly what the relegation-threatened team needed. Instead, Leeds ended up conceding 20 goals and lost all five games Roque Junior played for the club.


Source: AP/Press Association Images

How can a player who won four Premier League titles, the Champions League trophies, the FIFA Club World Cup and two League Cups be deemed a flop?

Despite some flashes, Anderson struggled for the majority of his time at United with injury and fitness issues. Louis Van Gaal was quoted last year as saying that he couldn’t pick the Brazilian because he “wasn’t fit enough for the Premier League.”

After leaving United, he lasted just 36 minutes in his first match for Internacional before departing the pitch and requesting an oxygen mask.

What other Brazilians do you think deserve a mention as being one of the best or worst to play in the Premier League? 

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Donal Lucey


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