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Brazil’s continually colourful impact on the Premier League


Brazil is a country that has produced some of the best footballers the planet has ever seen, such as Pele, Zico, Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo (R9), Kaka, Roberto Carlos and Neymar Jr, to name just a few.

A number of high profile Brazilian players have also earned their crust in the Premier League, with names such as Juninho, Edu, Gilberto Silva, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Fernandinho, Thiago Silva and now goalkeepers Alisson Becker and Ederson all having a huge impact for their respective EPL clubs.

In fact, according to the highly regarded football statistics website fbref.com, Brazil is tied with Spain as the nation best represented in terms of player numbers in the Premier League behind England.

Isaias Soares was the very first Brazilian to play in the Premier League, when he made his debut for Coventry City in the 1995-96 season, in a 2-1 win against Manchester City.

In the 2001-02 season, central midfielder Edu, who is currently Arsenal’s technical director, became the first Brazilian to win the Premier League.

Outrageous skill, trickery and flair are the traits often associated with Brazilian players. Left winger Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal has been one of the most exciting players to watch in the Premier League in recent seasons. He bravely made the move to North London in July 2019, aged just 18.

As a fast and tricky winger, he makes it almost impossible for defenders to get the ball off him, due to his quick feet. The 22-year-old has found the back of the net 26 times in 93 appearances for the Gunners, with the wide man beginning to show world-class potential under Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

Martinelli has now also broken through into the Brazil national side, having made six international appearances since his debut in 2022. He already has an Olympic gold medal to his name for his country.

Further back the pitch, Brazilians are typically very physical and strong when it comes to defending. Players such as Thiago Silva, Casemiro and Gabriel Magalhaes are Premier League rocks when it comes to defending, due to their physical strength and ability to dispossess opposition when they have the ball.

The knack of playing under intense pressure rarely phases Brazilian players either, with their national team playing quick football and not dwelling on the ball, a style of play which is implemented at club level in Brazil.

When it comes to transfers, many Brazilian players come to the Premier League with big things expected of them given their price tags. The most expensive Brazilian to join the Premier League is Antony, who signed for Manchester United for £82m, yet many United fans are still waiting to see his full potential in the famous red shirt.

In 2018, Philippe Coutinho left Liverpool and joined Barcelona for a whopping £142m. However, after lighting up Anfield with his samba skills a disappointing stint in Spain saw Coutinho’s career stutter. Premier League fans are able to enjoy his talents again now, with him currently playing at Unai Emery’s Aston Villa.

Some Brazilians have failed to fully adapt to life in England, such as Robinho and Jo of Manchester City, who cost a combined £50m and Anderson of Manchester United who joined for a fee of £25m.

None of those three appeared to thrive in English football, the pressure of playing in the Premier League, along with the difference in lifestyle appearing to impact their performances.

Brazil has certainly left its mark on the Premier League, with flowing football and flair being seen more often in the top flight nowadays. Brazilians have also been part of some historical teams and have won numerous trophies during their spells in England, always entertaining the fans along the way.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.


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