With Liverpool having just signed an exciting Brazilian international in Firmino, I have taken a look at what I regard as Liverpool’s top 10 South American players over the last few years. The Brazilian influence began with the introduction of Fabio Aurelio and there have been several high quality South Americans to grace Anfield since. I wanted to include Jon “Cafu” Flanagan, but unfortunately his Brazilian nickname doesn’t allow him to qualify for the list.
#10. Mark Gonzalez
Born in South Africa, Gonzalez is a Chilean international. His arrival at Anfield was delayed due to work permit problems and the hype prior to his arrival at the club never quite matched what was previously anticipated. Although he scored on his debut against Macabi Haifa, Gonzalez was somewhat becoming more of a bit part player the longer the season went on, and this resulted in him being sold to Real Betis at the end of the 2006-2007 season.
#9. Gabriel Paletta
Paletta is perhaps one that got away. His career away from Anfield has been far more impressive than his career While at Liverpool. Labelled by some as the next Sami Hyypia, Paletta’s Liverpool career was quite disappointing and despite scoring on his debut in the Capital One Cup against Reading it wasn’t long before he was sold on to Boca Juniors. Since then he has gone on to play for Parma and now, Ac Milan.
#8. Sebastian Coates
Remembered by most for his incredible bicycle kick goal against QPR, Coates is another defender that has never quite fulfilled his potential. Despite already being a Uruguay international when Liverpool came calling, Coates never looked comfortable in defence wearing a Liverpool shirt. Injuries have not helped the defender settle into life at Anfield and Coates has never shown enough quality to suggest he will ever be good enough to earn a regular start for Liverpool. He has been loaned out to Sunderland where he has done well and he has aided their battle against relegation. Heavily tipped for an exit this summer, Coates may well be on his way out of the club very shortly.
#7. Emiliano Insua
Insua spent four years at Anfield and eventually left to join Sporting Lisbon. Again, Insua was another South American defender who never quite reached their full potential at the club. He managed 62 appearances and scored a fantastic goal against Arsenal in the Capital One Cup. Rafa Benitez was very keen on the young Argentine but he never looked like a realistic long term solution at left back.
#6. Fabio Aurelio
A true favourite at Anfield, Fabio Aurelio was a top quality full-back. He was composed on the ball and had an excellent eye for a killer cross. A dead ball specialist, Aurelio was the first Brazilian to ever play for Liverpool. He made 134 appearances for the Reds and scored some memorable goals. His most notable goals came against Manchester United at Old Trafford and at Stamford Bridge away to Chelsea. Unfortunately injury plagued his Liverpool career and his first team appearances were limited due to this. He was unquestionably one of the most technically gifted players in the squad and when fit he never disappointed. Ultimately he left Liverpool on a free transfer after six years at the club.
#5. Maxi Rodriguez
After signing on a free transfer from Atletico Madrid, Maxi Rodriguez soon became a Kop favourite. The vastly experienced Argentine was used sparingly when he first arrived at the club but a flurry of goals over the last few months of the 2010-2011 campaign seen him cement a more inclusive role within the Liverpool first team. Hat-tricks against Fulham and Birmingham City aided his claim for a first team place and many fans felt that he didn’t get as much playing time as he deserved. In his debut season in a Red shirt, Maxi netted 10 goals and was one of the suing lights for Liverpool in what proved to be a very difficult season for the team.
#4. Philipe Coutinho
Liverpool’s stand-out performer in the 2014-2015 season, Coutinho has developed into a top quality player. Now a Brazil international, Coutinho arrived at Anfield as a relatively unknown form Inter. Since then he has displayed incredible technique, scored fantastic goals and acted as a catalyst for Liverpool’s minor resurgence in early 2015. He was voted in the PFA team of the year and has attracted interest from numerous clubs across Europe. In February, Coutinho committed himself to the club until 2020 and signalled his intent to help bring success to Anfield. The 23 year old looks set to go on to achieve even more in a Liverpool shirt in the coming years.
#3. Lucas Leiva
Lucas signed for Liverpool in July 2007 and arrived with a huge reputation following his excellent dispalys in his native Brazil. Lucas also became the youngest player ever to receive the Golden Ball, given to the best player in the Campeonato Brasileiro, an honour previously won by the likes of Zico, Falcão, Romário, Robinho, and Kaká. Lucas struggled during his early Liverpool days and many fans felt that he was not at the same standard of the other midfielders at the club (Alonso, Gerard and Mascherano) However, over time Lucas became a firm favourite on the Kop and his consistency was one of the primary factors for his success in a Liverpool shirt. Since signing he has won club player and club young player of the year awards. Injuries have blighted his last couple of years at the club but Lucas still provides an excellent midfield option for Brendan Rodgers.
#2. Javier Mascherano
A ferocious midfielder who drove fear into his opponents Mascherano was a modern day destroyer for the Reds. Nicknamed “monster mash” by the Kop, Mascherano’s departure surprised many Liverpool fans at the time. Any ill feeling towards Mascherano was soon forgotten after he dedicated Barcelona’s Champions League victory over Man United to the Liverpool fans. Mascherano only managed two goals for the club but will be remembered fondly for his passion on the pitch and his unrelenting desire to win. He was part of what Liverpool fans labelled “the best midfield in the world” ( Xabi Alonso, Momo Sissoko, Gerrard and Mascherano oh oh)
#1. Luis Suarez
It comes with no surprise that Luis Suarez is number one on the list of Top South Americans to play for Liverpool. Ever since his arrival from Ajax, Luis was nothing short of magnificent on the pitch. His goal to game ratio was phenomenal and he is far and away the best striker the club has seen since Fowler. He finished his Liverpool career with 82 goals in 133 games. Before departing for Barcelona for €94mil(£75mil) in 2014, Suarez earned the PFA Player of the Year, FA Writers Player of the Year and the Premier League Golden Boot. His controversies have been well documented but Suarez will forever be remembered by Liverpool fans for his tireless work rate and his ability to score fantastic goals as he pleased. In his final season he scored 31 goals in 33 games and his partnership with Daniel Sturridge provided 54 goals in total which enabled the club to mount a very serious title challenge. Since leaving Liverpool he has won the champions League, La Liga and the Copa Del Rey. Time will tell if Firmino can overtake Suarez at the top of the list. Here’s hoping….