Brazilians in the Premier League: Legends & losers

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Football News

With the 2014 Brazilian World Cup following the current Premier League season, this article examines which noteworthy Brazilian players have graced the English game successfully and which of them have "flopped". 

The article will feature Brazilian players that have spent more than six months representing their club and that have gained at least ten Premier League appearances.

With this in mind,  a total of 34 players have met these requirements representing 16 different clubs. Players that have arrived in the current summer transfer market will not be considered for the reasons stated above. Although some of the players have played more than the required games, not all of their journeys in the English game have been a story of success. 

The first Brazilian ever to play in the Premier League was signed by Coventry City in the season of 1995/6. His name was Isaias Marques Soares and his price tag was a fair £500,000.

The Brazilian signed a two year contract and immediately attracted interest after his illustrious career in Portugal. Isaias had already played a big part in Benfica's travels across Europe in the European Cup and was most famed for his spectacular performance against Arsenal at Highbury in 1991 where he scored two goals and assisted the other in a 3-1 victory against the Gunners. The player was forced to leave Benfica however in 1995 due a squad reshuffle in the Portuguese sides bleakest footballing period. His career at Coventry City was brief lasting just two season in which he only managed to appear in the sky blue shirt 12 times scoring two goals. His impressive CV certainly fooled the Coventry City fans and they were left asking where the Brazilian flare was that they were promised. 

Since Isaias' arrival in England, there have been many more Brazilians to follow and try their trade in the world's most difficult and exciting league. Some have become legends and club heroes whereas others have left a sour taste in the mouths of the fans they represented. The club that has been fielded the most Brazilians in the Premier League is Arsenal. The Gunners have played six Brazilians on more than 10 occasions with two of the players representing the side during the famous Invincibles season of 2003/04 when Arsenal went a whole domestic season unbeaten. 

Arsenal - Gilberto Silva is perhaps the favorite of all the Brazilians to have graced the Arsenal side in the Premier League. He was signed in the summer of 2002 from Atheltio Mineiro for £4.5million following an impressive World Cup winning campaign with Brazil. Gilberto amassed a total of 170 appearances in his 6 years with the Gunners scoring 17 goals and featuring as captain during some games. The player enjoyed the invincibles season winning the Premier League unbeaten. He also won two FA Cups with Arsenal in 2003 and 2005 as well as a Community Shield. Gilberto also featured in the Champions League final in 2006 when Arsenal were beaten by Barcelona 2-1. His career in England was a success and his style of play impressed the Arsenal fans, especially when injury forced Thierry Henry out of the side for lengthy spells in 2006/07 season, meaning Gilberto had to step up for the penalties. His goal scoring tally was second best in the team that season with 10 goals to his name. The most Gilberto has scored in a single season.

Edu arrived at Arsenal in January 2001 with big expectations. The Brazilian midfielder had been a success at an early age with his previous club Corinthians and had three major honours to his name upon arriving in London. Edu however endured mixed fortunes whilst playing for Arsenal. Like Gilberto, he experienced the unbeaten season and the successes of FA Cup & League glory. However, he failed to perform at a high level consistently which cost him a place in the 2002 Brazil squad. As his time at Arsenal went on, Edu saw his first team chances cut and in 2005 he left the club with 100 appearances to his name and just seven goals. 

Sylvinho: Brazilian left back Sylvinho spent just two seasons with the Gunners, but he is often remembered for his spectacular goals and positive attitude to life. The left back replaced long time fan favorite Nigel Winterburn in 1999/2000 but just a year later, promising youth prospect Ashley Cole was preferred to the Brazilian in the defensive position. This didn't stop Sylvinho to go on to have a successful career post-Arsenal. In fact the left back became a regular for Barcelona and was later signed by Manchester City on a year contract playing 10 times and scoring a wonder goal in the FA cup against lowly Scunthorpe United.

Other notable Brazilians for Arsenal - Denilson, Julio Baptista, Andre Santos

Chelsea - Alex arrived at Stamford Bridge in January of 2007 from PSV. His time at Chelsea will be most remembered for his spectacular long range goals. His first wonder goal was scored against Middlesbrough from a 30 yard free kick in his first season at the club. The following season, Alex scored once again from 30 yards in the Champions League against Liverpool which helped to send them to the semi-finals. Another noteworthy goal came against Arsenal in 2010 when he netted a 25 yard free kick in what was a 2-0 victory.

Juliano Beletti was another player famous for his long range goals at Chelsea. Just like Alex, Beletti was a defender, so his goals came as a surprise to the Stamford Bridge faithful. In fact, Beletti was voted goal of the season by Chelsea fans for a thunderous goal against Tottenham Hotspur in 2008. The Brazilain represented the club 54 times scoring 5 goals. 

David Luiz is a fan favorite at Stamford Bridge, but loathed by the rest of the Premier League. Currently being chased by Barcelona, Luiz has certainly shined in the blue shirt, scoring some wondrous goals in the 12/13 campaign for Chelsea. His performances have certainly not gone unnoticed as he was selected to represent Brazil in the 2012 Olympics and in the 2013 confederations cup winning side. Although, sometimes prone to defensive mix ups, there is no doubting the ability of David Luiz as an aerial and long range shot threat. Whether he will remain at the club for the coming season is still up for debate.

Oscar arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2012 following an impressive season for Brazilain outfit Internacional. Despite this, many pundits were already criticizing the 21-year-old for his lack of physicality, predicting a tough time for the youngster in the Premier League. Oscar has since rose above those comments and endured a successful season for Chelsea during his first campaign. Scoring 5 goals in 35 games and assisting many more, Oscar has well and truly established himself at the top level. Expect more exciting football from this man this season. 

Manchester United - Fabio & Rafael da Silva  are the famous Brazilian twins who represent Manchester United. The brothers however have endured mixed fortunes. Rafael for example has become a first team regular with the Red Devils (despite his fiery outbursts) and has therefore enjoyed the success of six more major honors over his brother Fabio. Rafael has had his critics whilst playing for Manchester United with many ex players, fans and pundits expressing that he was too hot headed and naive to fit into the squad on a regular basis. Rafael has silenced these critics however by impressing Sir Alex Ferguson during his final season at United. It seems the youngster has matured and it has only improved his game. Fabio on the other hand has seen his chances at United suffer. After being sent out on loan to QPR between 2011 - 2013, he has experienced the heartache of Premier League relegation. 

Kleberson arrived at Manchester United following a world cup winning campaign in 2002 with Brazil. Phil Scolari's praise of the Brazilian led many to believe that Kleberson was the next best thing in world football. So in the summer of 2002, Sir Alex Ferguson took a gamble by signing the midfielder. His time at United however, is anything but a success. Poor performances saw the midfielder sold after just two seasons with the club and he is certainly one player many United fans will try to forget.

Anderson is certainly a player that stirs up plenty of mixed opinions in the footballing world. It will be his seventh season in a Manchester United shirt this year and Anderson has only amounted 98 appearances and just 5 goals. The Brazilian came to the red side of Manchester with high expectations, with many tipping him to become one of the world's best. His career however, hasn't quite gone that way, yet he can boast an amazing 10 major honours during his time at Manchester United. How influential Anderson was in winning those trophies is up for debate though.

Manchester City - Robinho the signing of Robinho on the deadline day of the summer 2008 transfer window signaled in a new era for Manchester City. The club record £32.5million deal was struck on the same day that new billionaire owner Sheikh Mansour took ownership of the club. The Brazilian was reported to be moving to Chelsea but in a shocking turn of events it was mid table club Manchester City that secured the former Real Madrid man. Robinho became an instant hit at Manchester City in his first season scoring 14 goals, making him the top scorer for the club that campaign. His second season at the club however saw Robinho drop down the pecking order after a lengthy injury spell and poor performances. After Mark Hughes was sacked by the owners and new manager Roberto Mancini was welcomed in, many of the press were asking questions over the Brazilians future. After coming on as a substitute and then being substituted himself, Robinho's future at City was certain to end soon. He was sold eventually to AC Milan and it left many fans with mixed opinions on the highly rated Brazilian.  

Elano was a fan favorite at Manchester City and was most famous for his spectacular free kick against Newcastle United. His immediate awe of Manchester made him a popular character at the club as he admitted he enjoyed life in the city and was surprised by the generosity of the club towards him. His first season at the club in 2007/08 was a success with 10 goals and an impressive assist rate. The fans were singing his name loud and proud and were expecting big things for the next campaign. The summer saw the arrival of former City favorite Shaun Wright-Phillips and the signing of Brazilian superstar Robinho. Mark Hughes decided to drop Elano from a number of Premier League games throughout the season causing Elano to seek regular football elsewhere. When the Brazilian left the club the at the end of the season City fans were still raving about his impressive goals and his role in bringing City from mid-table to Europa League contenders. 

Other notable Brazilians for Manchester City - Jo (also played for Everton), Geovanni (also played for Hull City).

Liverpool - Fabio Aurelio was the first Brazilian to sign for Liverpool football club in the summer of 2006 on a free transfer from Valencia. Over a six year period Aurelio amassed a total of 87 appearances and three goals. The reason for Aurelio's lack of appearances was due to his career being blighted by injury. In fact, the Brazilian suffered a long injury spell in every season he played for the club. 

Lucas Leiva on the other hand has been more of a success at the Kop since arriving in the summer of 2007. He has become a solid member in the Liverpool midfield and despite a long term injury spell Lucas is still a popular player at Liverpool and a consistent performer. Lucas also holds the record of becoming the first Brazilian player to score for the club in 2008 when he curled a 25 yard shot into the top corner against Havant & Waterlooville during an FA Cup tie. 

Phillipe Coutinho is the most recent Brazilian addition to the Liverpool squad. The talented youngster was brought in during the January transfer window of 2013 and arrived with high expectations. Thus far the player has lived up to those expectations with three goals in 14 appearances.

Middlesbrough - Juninho arrived for his first spell with Middlesbrough in 1995 surprising football experts around the world. Then 22-year-old and destined for big things, the player joined the newly promoted side from the North of England despite being linked to some of the top European sides. Surprisingly Middlesbrough has been the destination for a number of Brazilian players. Boro' was far from the golden beaches of Brazil that most of these players experienced and the industrial city wasn't exactly the most picturesque place they could have transferred to.  Despite this, Juninho fell in love with the club and had 3 spells with the side, 1995-97, 1999-2000 & 2002-2004. Juninho was known for his size standing at just 5ft 5 inches and was nicknamed "TLF" (The Little Fella) by the Boro faithful. He was an extremely influential player for Middlesbrough during his first spell with the club. Despite this he endured an FA Cup final defeat, a League cup final defeat and relegation to the old Division 1. 

His second spell in 1999-2000 was due to being loaned out by Atletico Madrid. His return was popular and he scored 4 goals in 24 games for the tee-side club. The Brazilians final spell at the club was between 2002-2004. This time he was signed by Middlesbrough for £6 million. His performances helped Middlesbrough win the 2004 League cup and Juninho went as far to say that his victorious season with Boro meant more to him than winning the World cup with Brazil in 2002. Juninho will always remain a legend in the eyes of Boro fans and will go down as one of the great players of the Premier League. Juninho's love affair with Middlesbrough will go down as one of the unlikeliest relationships English football has seen.  

Other notable Brazilians for Middlesbrough - Afonso Alves, Doriva, Emerson, & Fabio Rochemback, 

Other noteworthy Brazilians to have played in the Premier League include;

Emerson Thome (Sheffield Wednesday, Chelsea, Sunderland & Bolton Wanderers)

Julio Cesar (Queens Park Rangers)

Cacapa (Newcastle United)

Roque Junior (Leeds United)

Rafael (Birmingham City)

Sandro and Gomes  (Tottenham Hotspur)

The journeys of the Brazilian players in the Premier League has been a mixed bag of success and failure with the majority of Brazilians failing to make any lasting impact for the clubs they played for. For some, the culture shock was too much and for others the football simply did not suit them. However, the stories of Juninho, Rafael da Silva and Gilberto Silva prove that Brazilians can make it in the Premier League. The flare and excitement that these players can offer is only good for the Premier League, and with the current crop of Brazilian youngsters producing some eye catching football, maybe we'll see an influx of samba stars in the future. 

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