Brazilian Samba Stars have generally succeeded all around the globe, especially in Spain's LaLiga, but a handful of Seleção players have left their mark in the Premier League too.
Sometimes the weather and considerable language barrier prevented Brazil's best from producing their very best in England on a long term basis. But, in typical Brazilian fashion, players from South America's biggest country have always managed to turn a few heads.
🦁 Brazilians in the EPL era
🦏 Julio Baptista
Julio Baptista's time at Arsenal didn't go according to plan, but "The Beast" did famously score four goals for the Gunners at Anfield in 2007 in a memorable 2007 EFL Cup quarterfinal. Arsenal won 6-3 that day.
Now the Gunners technical director, the tall Brazilian was also a technically-gifted left-footer in the heart of Arsène Wenger's midfield. He was part of the Invincibles squad in 2003/04 and marked his final game at Highbury with a goal after his teammates gave him the honour of converting a penalty. Arsenal won 7-0 against Everton with goals from Robin van Persie, Robert Pires (2), Patrick Vieira, Edu himself, Dennis Bergkamp and Mathieu Flamini.
🧱 Gilberto Silva
Nicknamed "The Invisible Wall" by sections of fans, pundits and the media, Gilberto was one of the finest examples of a pure defensive midfielder in world football at the time. He was a key component in Brazil's 2002 World Cup-winning side, allowing their famous attackers to do the damage while he mopped up behind them. Gilberto captained Arsenal and scored their first-ever goal at the brand new Emirates Stadium in 2006.
🙃 Afonso Alves
In 2008, unfashionable Premier League outfit Middlesbrough splashed €17m million on their record signing Afonso Alves. The burly Brazilian striker didn't cut it in England though. However to this day, he's the second-most expensive player in the club's history.
Speaking of expensive Brazilians, Alisson arrived at Anfield in 2018 for a hefty price tag of €72.5 million, but the 'keeper has more than repaid the fee and faith placed in him by the club's hierarchy. He's the Brazil #1, a Champions League winner and looks set for Premier League glory this season too. He even got an assist against Man United this season for Mo Salah's late goal to seal a 2-1 win.
Aged 22, Brazil international Juninho Paulista surprised the world when he signed for Middlesbrough in 1997 despite concrete interest from some of Europe's elite clubs. The little fella, as he was affectionately known by Boro supporters, spent two spells on Teesside between 1995 & 1997 and again between 2000 and 2004. The little magician was known for his mastery over set-pieces and ability to conjure chances out of nothing and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in Middlesbrough's history, having won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002. Juninho Paulista, as he's known, is not to be confused with Lyon legend Juninho Pernambucano, also a genius in dead-ball situations.
🗿 Lucas Leiva
He wasn't always Liverpool's most popular player, but Lucas Leiva sure knew how to get the dirty work done in the midfield engine room. At 33, he's still operating at a high level with Lazio in Serie A. An underrated footballer, not as good as Gilberto Silva was in a defensive midfield role, but he was pretty solid.
Fresh off winning the 2002 World Cup with Brazil alongside Arsenal man Gilberto Silva, Kléberson arrived at Old Trafford to much fanfare, but he didn't deliver on the promise and is widely regarded as a Premier League flop. He only made 20 Premier League appearances between 2003 and 2005.
🔥 Gabriel Martinelli
By the looks of it, Arsenal has a sensational prospect on their hands. He's the first Gunner to hit double figures for the club since Nicolas Anelka in the 1998/99 season and scored a memorable solo goal at Stamford Bridge a few weeks back to announce himself on the grandest stage. Still only 18, this guy looks set to go to the top of the game.
Chelsea's utility man wasn't known for his goal-scoring prowess, but his cheeky chip at the Nou Camp against Barcelona still goes down as one of the most important in the club's history. He fulfilled a variety of roles with distinction at Stamford Bridge and was a manager's dream.
An integral cog in the Man City machine over the past seven years. Sure they've got some of the finest attacking midfielders and strikers on the globe, but where their midfield general? Fernandinho's versatility has gotten City out of many sticky situations, none more so than this season when he has stepped into a centre back role with most of Pep's first-choice defenders out injured.
If Man City stakes a serious claim for the Champions League crown in 2020, their chances may well hinge on the 34-year-old's experience and big match temperament.
The Premier League is back with only four fixtures this coming weekend as 12 out of the 20 clubs put their feet up for some much-needed test. Liverpool, however, is in FA Cup 4th round replay action tonight.
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