Manchester United: The South American Connection

Rodrigo Possebon

South America has produced a host of truly world beaters over the  years. Pele, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo, Lionel Messi. Manchester United have had their fair share of South Americans also and here I’m going to look at those who became part of Manchester United folklore including my top five to sign for the Old Trafford club, those who didn’t quite make the cut and those who may still have a point to prove.

Rodrigo Possebon

A central midfielder who had bags of potential. Possebon was Brazilian born but gained an Italian passport from his father’s side. He had a style about his play that gave off an air of confidence and calmness on the ball. It was on his first Premier League start that Possebon was the subject of a horror tackle by Middlesbrough’s Pogatetz. It was this injury (first suspected as a broken leg) that ultimately killed off Possebon’s United career. When coming back from injury he was never the same player and Possebon was sold on to Brazilian side Santos.


When United bought Kleberson he was a World Cup winner. Bought in the same transfer window as Cristiano Ronaldo, big things were expected.  Kleberson had a fantastic World Cup for Brazil in 2002 and set up one of the goals in the final. Kleberson failed to match his form for his national team and only played 30 games in total scoring just twice. In the august of 2005 Kleberson was moved on to Turkish side Besiktas and now plies his trade in The North American Soccer League.

Diego Forlan

Forlan seems to be an anomaly. Classed around the world as a hotshot marksman it didn’t quite go for him in a United shirt. He did pop up with some important goals, for example, his brace against Liverpool at Anfield. It was his lack of consistency that saw him eventually leave for Villarreal in 2004  where he went on to become one of the highest goal scorers in La Liga and blossomed into a top striker eventually moving to Atletico Madrid.

The opposite could be said however for Radamel Falcao. Falcao became an instant fan favourite at Old Trafford and goals were expected from the Colombian Hotshot. Fans were willing him to score every game. However, a haul of just four goals in his season loan meant United didn’t take up the option to buy him’ Was this really the same man that scored 70 goals in 91 games for Atletico Madrid?  Falcao headed back to Monaco who instantly loaned him back out for his next season at Chelsea where he had an, even more, lackluster season with just one goal.

Juan Sebastian Veron

Alex Ferguson spent a then United record of £28.1 million to bring “Seba” to Old Trafford from Italian outfit Lazio. Veron  was used in a number of positions at the club centre midfield, attacking midfield and even deployed on both wings at some point and didn’t seem to settle into any of them. A few good games here and there were not enough to save his United career and so a switch to Stamford bridge came in 2003. United was able to recoup £15 million from the sale.

After looking at some of the South American players that just quite didn’t live up to expectations let’s look at our top five to wear the Famous United shirt.


Anderson never quite matched the dizzy heights expected from him at United but plugged on to be able to tally up 181 matches for the club. At times looked brilliant and at other times looked sluggish and unfit. With only nine goals scored much more was expected from the Brazilian wonderkid. Anderson holds four Premier League winners medals alongside a Champions League winners medal.

Gabriel Heinze

The Argentine full-back became a fan favourite at Old Trafford fairly quickly. His constant bombing forward was just what united needed to compliment Gary Neville who was doing the same on the right side of the pitch. Heinze played with pace and passion and was voted United’s player of the season for 2004-2005.

Rafael da Silva

Rafael and his brother Fabio both signed for United for the 2008/09 season. The little Brazilian showed heart and passion that made him a favourite at the Theatre of Dreams. It was the 2012/13 season that he really shone, playing a total of 40 games and scoring three times. Ferguson had stated that he was an “excellent footballer” and had been praised for his high energy.

Antonio Valencia

Still playing for United Valencia first made the switch to the Premier League with Wigan. It was his energy speed and strength that made United make a move for the Ecuadorian in  2009. Valencia was a quick right-winger and had a successful first season playing 49 games and scoring seven times so far. Lately, Valencia has been used as a makeshift right back and testament goes out to him for being able to adapt his game to keep himself in and around the starting lineup.

Carlos Tevez

Tevez had already lit up the Premier League with his loan spell at West Ham. United made a move for the argentine  superstar who made a formidable front three pairing alongside Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. Tevez played 99 times for United and has 34 goals, two Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy to his name in a United shirt. Things did, however, turn sour when Tevez made the move across the city to join United’s rivals at the Etihad. However while in a United shirt it’s impossible not to be impressed with his performances.

Manchester United still have a fair few South Americans at the club who may see their careers cut short or blossom under new boss Jose Mourinho.

Sergio Romero still holds his place as the Argentina national keeper and unless this comes under threat expect him to keep playing second fiddle happily to De Gea.

Marcos Rojo has had a very indifferent time at the club. There is no denying his determination and passion for playing for the club, but his performances will have to improve to be considered a genuine contender for the first team squad.

Guillermo Varela was David Moyes’ first signing for the club. The 23-year-old Uruguayan was loaned out to Real Madrid Castilla for the 2014/15 season where he played 33 games. Varela returned to Old Trafford. He made four senior appearances and helped seal the U21’s Premier League title scoring an injury time winner. With some good coaching could become a contender for the first team.

Andreas Pereira is the player that every United fan wants to see be given a chance. Although born in Belgium, Pereira’s father was Brazilian and Pereira has represented Belgium at U17’s but then chose to represent Brazil at U20 level. Will we see more of him under Mourinho or will we see him sent out on loan to gain some vital first team experience?

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