South American Football: Cautionary tales of Argentine imports to the Premier League
Only two players swapped South America for the English Premier League during this latest transfer window, and they landed on opposite sides of Stanley Park.
In the red corner, Uruguayan centre-back Sebastian Coates’s £7m move to Anfield is the steal of the summer. In the blue corner, there’s the improbable and unpronounceable acquisition of Denis Stracqualursi by Everton on a season long loan.
The 23-year-old striker topped the scoring charts in Argentina with 21 goals in 38 games for Tigre last term. During this hot streak Stracqualursi plundered a hat-trick against Boca Juniors at La Bombonera.
While ‘Tracagol’ sealed his hat-trick against Boca from the penalty spot nobody can expect the Argentine to pick up the creative slack left behind by Mikel Arteta. The out-and-out striker will instead look to show off his tireless application in front of goal as well as his pace, clever movement and aerial threat.
A lack of attacking alternatives means David Moyes has little option but to give his new addition plenty of time on the pitch. The necessity to throw Stracqualursi in at the deep end will give Everton fans an early indication of the lad sinking or swimming.
If the Argentine does hit it off with the Gwladys Street End it’s worth noting Denis Stracqualursi’s name fits perfectly to the tune of Gerry and the Pacemakers’ Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey.
The dismal pedigree of previous trans-Atlantic transfers from Argentina to England is impossible to mask, even if you happen to be Facundo Sava. It’s telling that the most successful goalscoring import from Argentina to the Premier League remains Diego Forlan’s move from Independiente to Manchester United.
The most recent case of a striker failing to pack his shooting boots when departing from Ezeiza is Wigan Athletic’s record signing Mauro Boselli. While Boselli was on the books of Estudiantes de la Plata he terrorized defences up and down South America as he shone not only in domestic competition but also in the Copa Libertadores.
The number nine’s build and bulging of the onion bag had him pegged as a custom fit for the Premier League. Dave Whelan was convinced and sanctioned the £6m move to the DW Stadium.
After a single goal in 12 appearances for Wigan the striker was first packed off on loan to Genoa and is now back in Argentina playing for Estudiantes. In his first six games back home Boselli has looked a shadow of the player who left for England. At least his Estudiantes team-mate Juan Sebastián Verón has a Premier League winner’s medal to show for his time in the north-west of England.
So Boselli slips into the Premier League folder of foreign flops alongside other strikers to have come direct from Argentina such as Luciano Figueroa, Emanuel Villa and Juan Carlos Menseguez.
But hang on, aren’t we always hearing managers tell us that we can’t judge strikers simply on their goal tally? We are instead urged to look at what else a forward is bringing to the table. Well if we forget about goals for a minute, there’s plenty that Argentine attacking imports have brought to the Premier League.
There’s Esteban Fuertes who joined Derby County from Colón de Santa Fe for £2.8 m in 1999. He may not have provided Jim Smith’s team with many goals but he sure taught us all a thing or two about travel documents.
Three months into Fuertes’ stint with Derby he was refused entry back into the UK at Heathrow Airport on account of the fake EU passport his agent supplied him. Following the Fuertes furore, any foreign player wishing to sign for an English club must now present a copy of their passport to the FA for inspection.
Another Argentine striker who was less than prolific but still managed to shake the marble halls to their very foundations was Daniel Cordone. Newcastle United’s £500,000 purchase from Racing Club was quick to get under the skin of the brass buttons following his Premier League arrival in 2000.
It wasn’t the passport in Cordone’s bumbag that gave Adam Crozier a headache but rather the contents of his jewellery box, as Sir Bobby Robson described at the time.
“We explained to the referee at the Manchester United game that Daniel had permanent earrings in and we said don’t expect him to take them out because we’ll have to cut his ears off … They were soldered in so he’s had a pretty decent operation to remove them … He was carrying too much gold around with him – he’s put on half a yard of pace!”
It wasn’t long before the shine was completely taken off Cordone’s stay on Tyneside. At the end of his only Premier League season he was sent back to Argentina.
Despite being back on home turf the striker still managed to get in further trouble with the footballing authorities. Cordone was banned from playing for a year after testing positive for marijuana twice in a 12-month period.
Apart from a brace against Liverpool, the performances of Facundo Sava were hardly earth shattering during his 2002-04 spell with Fulham. But on those rare occasions Sava did score, boy did he know how to celebrate. Who can forget the Argentine whipping out his Zorro mask to the delight of the Hammersmith End?
The man behind the mask is now back home and using his degree in social psychology to earn a crust. Fulham’s £2m signing from Gimnasia la Plata fondly recalls his midweek trips to London’s galleries and museums before he shuffled off to Celta Vigo.
Only time will tell what secrets are hidden within Denis Stracqualursi’s passport, bedside dresser or even tucked behind his shinpad. With so many cautionary tales concerning strikers to have made the same move as him the odds are clearly stacked against the youngster.
You can be certain though, even if Stracqualursi doesn’t give viewers of Match of the Day many goals to remember, he will find some other way to invigorate the English game in a manner befitting his predecessors.
Follow @TimSturtridge on TwitterArgentina, boselli, Everton, football, Liverpool, Premier League, South America, South American Football, the South American Football Show, veron
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