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.
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)
*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: http://alvaro-elojodelondres.blogspot.com
@AlvaroLevrero – for quality tweets on Uruguayan football.