Sebastian Coates seems destined to be great, but he needs time to learn the European game.

Sebastian Coates’ days in Liverpool FC seem to be numbered. The undoubtedly talented centre-back had some good performances playing in Merseyside, but is not seen to have fully understood the certain components of European football. This, to me, is remeniscent of the Paco Casal days of Uruguayan football, when a high number of talented players (late 90s-mid 2000s) would end up rotting in the benches of top European teams. According to Alvaro Levrero (a panelist from Diario El Pais who now lives and writes from London, England) the Uruguayan league simply does not provide the right type of preparation for players to immediately thrive in big European teams that demand consistent domination on their part.

Sebastian Taborda (left) went from Defensor Sporting to Deportivo la Coruña. 5 goals in 2 years, and he was promptly shipped back.

A few examples to take into account
Note: “Big clubs” refers to the wealthiest European institutions: Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, etc.

Players who immediately went to big clubs
1. Carlos Diogo (Real Madrid to Zaragoza to Huesca): Diogo was one of Uruguay’s most promising young talents. He barely was featured in Real Madrid and is now in Spain’s 2nd Division.
2. Martin Caceres (Barcelona to Recreativo to Barcelona to Juventus to Sevilla to Juventus): Caceres was not considered ready by Juventus and Barcelona, but did well to adapt his skills while on loan with Recreativo and Sevilla.
3. Diego Forlan (Manchester United to Villarreal to Atletico Madrid to Inter Milan): Diego Forlan had to save his career by moving away from a big club such as Manchester United, where he barely got any playing time.

Players who transitioned in (relatively) small teams first
1. Luis Suarez (Groningen to Ajax to Liverpool FC)
2. Paolo Montero (Atalanta to Juventus): One of Uruguay’s all time great captains spent 4 years adapting to the European game in Atalanta before moving on to a successful career with Juventus.
3. Alvaro Pereira (Cluj to Porto to Inter Milan)

Would Lucho have had the same success had he immediately gone to Liverpool?

*Note: There are personal factors which influenced the failures or successes of each of these players.

What do you think of this long standing issue? Are Uruguayans not conditioned to succeed immediately with big clubs? Thoughts on why this generation of Uruguayans seem to be more successful than past ones while playing in Europe?

My 2 cents: 
I feel that Uruguayan players have an advantage over young European players who play in small teams. Unlike their young European teammates, Uruguayan players are already  playing professional Division 1 football by age 16-17, and, if they are good, will have gained valuable experience playing in elite South American club competitions at a very young age. They also have U16 and U20 international experience. Essentially, the Uruguayan league provides them with all the necessary tools to succeed in Europe, so long as they have constant playing time to adapt themselves.

Please share your thoughts on this long standing issue.

Alvaro Levrero:
@AlvaroLevrero – for quality tweets on Uruguayan football.

MaroonFox4 MaroonFox4 2 like

16 Responses so far.

  1. Maldoror55 Maldoror55 says:

    Yes Juan Albin is also very interesting player.Attacking midfielder.

    Uh btw Nico you should little bit change your spotless admiration of European “football superiority”.Today in the final of Intercontinental cup Corinthians have beaten Chelsea,and have become the best world team of 2012.
    Congratulatins South America.Auspicious win.

    Current score: 0
  2. celeste24283050 says:

    real madrid shocked as albin pulls a late equalizer for espanyol 2-2 was the final score albin is looking good

    c.sanchez,mora should really be called up

    Current score: 2
  3. NicoGF NicoGF says:

    nacho gonzalez interview is ready!! ill work on it on monday.. will be here posted within 1 week

    Current score: 2
  4. celeste24283050 says:


    Current score: 4
    • celeste24283050 says:


      Current score: 2
    • SangreCharrua SangreCharrua says:

      I wonder if this would be enough to convince T that this guy maybe the right sided player to make a more mobile, futbol playing midfield we need. My god even in Fifa 13 ultimate team do we have a recognized right midfielder the closest is Urreta, el Flaco & Surraco. It is amazing that we have a wealth of left footed players and we struggle for the right

      Current score: 1
  5. Recobenzo says:

    Coates is nowhere near out of Liverpool. He was played yesterday….he is used for Europa Games but when they needed a win to go through, he was probably not going to unseat the starters and they were going with the safer …more experienced players on the bench.

    He might need to be loaned out though to get more playing time…I would agree with that.

    Does Anyone know though what is going on with the Uruguay NT wikipedia section of 2012-13?
    This used to be kept up very well. Now…. Nothing for the last 3 months?
    I know the NT is not doing great but come on?

    Current score: 1
  6. Nolan Berlin says:

    On this subject, according to Italian sources, Matias Vecino confirmed he is leaving Nacional for Fiorentina either in January or June depending on when he gets his passport.

    What do you guys think of this move?

    Current score: 1
  7. Dutchfan dutchfan says:

    Interesting blog this Alvaro Levrero. Thanks for sharing it.

    Current score: 0
  8. in_your_bright_ray in_your_bright_ray says:

    Great article! So many more I can think of off the top of my head…

    Antonio Pacheco (Penarol to Inter)
    Martin Rivas (Danubio to Inter)
    Fabian Carini (Danubio to Juventus)
    Cesar Pellegrin (Danubio to Juventus)
    Bruno Fornaroli (Nacional to Sampdoria)

    However there were some others who went to smaller clubs and didn’t do to well like…

    Juan Manuel Salgueiro (Danubio to Real Murcia)
    Diego Arismendi (Nacional to Stoke)
    Marcelo Tejera (Penarol to Southampton)

    I guess it’s the player that really makes the difference but there is merit to what the article is saying.

    Current score: 8
  9. NicoGF NicoGF says:

    i guess you have a point there. maybe our league isnt too good.

    Current score: 1
  10. NicoGF NicoGF says:

    nacho team won 6-1 today

    Current score: 1
  11. Graham says:

    I think Coates will be a success. He has had some indifferent performances and some really good ones. During his time there has been a complete change of ownership and management structure. Also, there are 3 established, experienced central defenders keeping him out. He was bought to be developed and I expect him to be at Liverpool for many years to come. Interesting article 🙂

    Current score: 2
  12. alexp says:

    I agree 100 %, I think Lodeiro in Ajax is another clear example too, very good article.

    Current score: 3

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