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The perils of the lure of Europe

Tim Vickery | 08:05 UK time, Monday, 26 January 2009

Held every two years, with the current version under way in Venezuela, the South American under-20 championships are a goldmine of talent.

I consider the highlight of my career catching Lionel Messi on the way up in the 2005 version in Colombia.

But there have been plenty of others - Ronaldinho and Roque Santa Cruz in 1999, Adriano and Maicon in 2001, Mascherano, Tevez and Daniel Alves in 2003, Mati Fernandez, Diego Godin and Hugo Rodallega in 2005, Alexandre Pato, Lucas, Ever Banega, Edison Cavani and Arturo Vidal two years ago - all wonderful players making a name for themselves on their way to Europe.

There are times, however, when Europe can come too soon, as the 2009 tournament has already made clear.

We are now a week into the group phase, which eliminates just four of the 10 nations.

The action begins in earnest on Saturday, when the six remaining countries play off with two objectives in sight - the title, and one of the continent's four places in the World Youth Cup, which this year is scheduled for Egypt in September.

But it is already too late for Peru. They have played their four group games and lost them all, and thus become the first team to be eliminated.

This has come as a blow as these are difficult times for Peruvian football. At senior level they lie bottom of the World Cup qualification table and off the pitch, things are just as bad.

Internal problems saw them threatened with suspension from Fifa and they lose the right to host the current tournament following wrangling between the local FA and the Sports Institute.


The one great hope was this generation of young players, who in 2007 reached the quarter finals of the World under-17 Cup and formed the base of this year's U20 side.

Great things were expected of them, and especially their star striker Reimond Manco.

Manco was brought up in Venezuela, who he represented four years ago in the South American under-15 Championships. Then he moved back to the land of his birth, was outstanding at under-17 level and moved from Alianza Lima to PSV of Holland.

He was following the path of his gifted compatriot Jefferson Farfan, now with Schalke in Germany after a successful spell in Holland. But there is a key difference.

Farfan moved to Europe after two years in the Alianza first team, during which time he established himself as the most devastating striker in Peruvian football. Manco went much earlier.

He had shown flashes of talent at senior level, despite being used as a substitute for Alianza more often than not, but when he left for Holland, it was too early. Just at the stage when he would have been best served by regular first team action, he has found himself on the bench or in the stands.

Back on familiar ground for the South American under-20s, his lack of sharpness was clear. His trickery won a penalty in the opening match against Ecuador, but otherwise he roamed the attacking line in a vain search for inspiration.

In the third game against Argentina he was taken off, and as frustration boiled over he was sent off in the fourth against the hosts. As he trudged off the field in Maturin, he may even have been reflecting that it might have been better to have stayed a while longer in South American club football.

Brazil have learnt this lesson. They took the conscious decision not to bring anyone back from Europe for their squad. Experience has taught them that the performance level of the youngsters is liable to suffer if they are not getting a regular game with their clubs. Even so, Brazil are not immune from the forces that have proved harmful to Manco.

Douglas Costa is a left-footed attacking midfielder of rare talent who made an immediate impression last year when he got into the Gremio first team - but then the global hype machine went into overdrive.

Before he had played three senior games he was already being linked with Manchester United and Real Madrid. From anonymity to "world's most wanted" lists inside a month - it is a huge burden for a teenager to carry.

Douglas Costa has looked like a man over-eager to live up to his billing in both the matches Brazil have played so far. He has been trying to do too much, running down blind alleys and falling over in search of a cheap free-kick.

He was taken off at half time in the last match against Bolivia, and as his replacement Tales scored the winner, Douglas might find it hard to get back in again.

But, unlike Reimond Manco, at least Douglas Costa still has time left to leave a positive impression in the 2009 South American under-20 Championships.

Comments on this piece in the space below. Any other questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Why doesn't South America rival Europe in terms of wealth and prestige (football wise)? Look at what it has. The quality of the football, players, the cash going in from transfers, plus the history and heritage of the great clubs (Boca, River, Corinthians et al).
Why aren't the South Americans (particularly Argentina and Brazil) playing their hand more strongly? European football, and the World Cup, wouldn't be the cash cow it now is without the Brazilian/Argentine influence. Those countries should be the China and India of global football. Instead they act like the Bangladesh and Vietnam of the world game.

Mwape Goble

Producing the players is one thing. Producing the structure to keep them is another.

In terms of international football, the prestige of the South American countries is undiminished. No European nation has ever won the World Cup in another continent, and Brazil and Argentina are the teams to beat.

European club football plays a part in this - although the premature move (as discussed above) is detrimental to many careers, it is also true that South Americans and Africans benefit from playing in the world's top leagues with their worldwide congregation of talent.

In terms of club football, South American is indeed operating below its potential, but it faces one giant problem that is outside its control. Salaries for the mass of the people are absurdly low - this places obvious limitations on ticket prices, sponsorship budgets and therefore on wages for the players - who will inevitably go where they can earn more.

The transfer fees paid to South American clubs are in general much lower than when the move is between two European clubs. Even so, the area of the game that makes money is that of producing players to sell - hence the fact that so many investors and companies are getting involved in it.

And operating as an export industry breeds dangerous vested interests - people with a stake in the failure of the domestic game.

You are not very well respected in South America, are you Mr Vickery? (fact)
- Manchester City are a very big club (fact)
- Manchester City made mugs of Chelsea with Robinho transfer (fact)
- Manchester City are by far the richest club in the world (fact)
- You dislike Manchester City (fact}

Ged, Manchester

What is your evidence for this last so-called fact?

I have indeed reported on Brazilian contempt for City - and there has been plenty of it.

The following are all extracts from last week's Lance!, Brazil's daily sports paper:
- Exchanging Milan for Manchester City is not worth it for all the money in the world. Kaka, this second category Manchester don't deserve your football." (Fernando Santos)
- "Kaka was an example of courage and character [because he didn't exchange a multi-European champion for a City who are hardly able to be a rival to their neighbours United -the Manchester who really matter." (Mauro Beting)
- "Kaka shouldn't exchange Milan for the dwarfish Manchester City - a type of Juventus of Javari Street [Sao Paulo club comparable to Leyton Orient] who now have a lot of money." (Eduardo Tironi).

There are plenty more what that lot came from. The fact that I have reported this doesn't mean that I agree with it - I've tried to stress that this is a misconception based on ignorance, and I've been on Brazilian TV explaining that City are big club with a strong tradition and fan base. If that has fallen on deaf ears, it could well be evidence for the first of your list of facts.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Another great blog, keep up the excellent work!

    Do not agree with 'Ged, Manchester' one bit. The fact that I wait every Monday for your blog to be posted shows how interesting it is. The best on the BBC!!

    Each week you look at a different aspect of football in South America, and it does not matter if you are discussing Brazil 3 weeks running etc. - something new is learned each week.

    I have a couple of questions - who do you think will be the next star in the Under 20 tournament and be subject to transfer come the summer?

  • Comment number 2.

    ......Are any of the games shown live in the UK? - where and at what time?

    Keep up the good work!


  • Comment number 3.

    great blog, tim.
    Thanks alot, always a pleasure on a monday.

  • Comment number 4.

    Ha ha loved that response to the City fan!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    Good blog as always and you have to laugh at Ged from Manchester who obviously just dislikes anyone saying anything that can be construed as negative towards Man City and needs to grow up and gain some perspective.

  • Comment number 6.

    Fantastic blog as usual. Agree with AB1987 - best blog on the BBC (Give this man a show - and not the 2' o clock saturday night graveyard shift he currently gets!)

    One question - Although Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela both starred for Mexico in the U-17 World Cup a couple of years ago both have found it difficult to break into their respective first teams. With Dos Santos seemingly on his way out with Spurs after Barcelona hardly broke sweat to keep him and Vela not being able to break into the first-team at Arsenal even with the absence of Eduardo (albeit with a few decent cameo's) - were these two elevated to wonderkid status too quickly, or are they still potential top class players?

  • Comment number 7.

    One more question Tim -

    Since players, as you say, go to Erope too quickly, isn't there a strong case to be made for European clubs to loan players back to South American clubs?

    Even young European players would surely benefit form the experience of playing abroad in such an atmosphere. Are there any such links between clubs from both sides of the divide?

  • Comment number 8.

    Nah, Tim, most of the brazilian media don't give a damn to most clubs that don't play Champions League football, and even some that do.

    I'm brazilian, and have some sympathy to Tottenham (its recent history resembles that of Palmeiras for me), and yet, when Gilberto (at that time on the first-team) moved to Tottenham, everyone but the guys who worked on the channel that broadcasted the EPL were asking "where did he go"?
    And on that same channel, one guy was saying that this same Juventus had more tradition that UCL's CFR Cluj.

    Don't take the brazilian media so seriously...apart from four or five, they all suck.

  • Comment number 9.


    What do you know of Rafael Carioca? Is he any good, I hear that he has moved to Spartack Moscow at the age of 19. Surely this will hinder him won't it?

    Also, as someone else mentioned - Giovani Dos Santos.

    I am extremely dissapointed with him this season. I know he has been injured, but he really doesn't seem up to the job in the Premiership.

    I found it strange at the time that Barcelona were not that fussed about him leaving and on top of that no 'Big' clubs seemed to be trying to take him. It all makes sense now.

    Can you explain his fall from grace. Will he stick it out here or go to an easier league? If so which league?


  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Tim, excellent blog as always.

    I have a question for you relating to your points on South American football's problems with competing with Europe.

    The problem with a financial imbalance because of the (relative) general poverty in the region seems relatively insurmountable without some miracle investor of epic wealth or a complete redesign of the game's infastructure, and limiting the movement of players beyond their 18th birthday is presumably not legally possible.

    Is there anything further you think FIFA or CONMEBOL could do to combat this tendency for players to leave at a younger and younger age? UEFA, no matter what they say in public, is presumably tacitly happy for the cream of SA to end up in Europe so is unlikely to come to Brazilian or Peruvian football's help.

    Perhaps you think the much touted 5+6 rule limiting foreigners is the way forward? Or maybe saying a player must have played domestically for at least one full season to play for that nation will stop players moving to Europe before playing regular first team football? Is FIFA the last hope?

  • Comment number 11.

    Another interesting and excellent blog, I always enjoy reading your blogs (fact.) Nice to hear about South American football. Sorry I don't know any players to ask you about!

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Tim, I literally just made this account so I could commend you on another fantastic article, essentially the only one worth reading on this website!

    I just wanted to ask you question I doubt anyone other than me would be interested in, do you think that it is possible for lower Premier League teams to sign talent from South America... or is that right solely reserved for the teams that are able to offer high salaries?

    For example, would a decent South American ever realistically consider joining a team like West Brom, where the salary would not be large and they'd be involved in a relegation dog fight, or would they only move for money and the chance to play at better clubs in Europe?

    I wouldn't blame them if they did only move to a bigger club! But at a lesser team in Europe surely they'd have a better chance at proving they can play over here and get first team experience and show case their talent to get to play for a bigger club?

  • Comment number 13.

    Thank you Ged for allowing me another chance to laugh at Citeh.

    Yes the whole world is jealous of are such a massive club that we all hate you with fervent intensity.

    When are you Citeh fans going to understand one simple truth? It takes years to become a big club. Just because you have money does not mean that every big star will join you.

    Those of you with sense understand this. However, there are some of you out there who just cannot understand why people did not think Kaka going to Citeh was the right thing and why they took the mickey.

    It is not about is about if Kaka had done this what would this say about football and human beings.....your team at the moment are going no where. You have nothing to offer other than money. It is not as if Kaka is at the end of his career. There was simply no reason for him to join.

    If he had it would only have been about money and he is so well paid why would he need it?

    Maybe one day....three or four years from now you will be challenging.....but your club are trying to go from a Robin reliant to a Ferrari just by buying the gear need more than this.

    But anyway continue citeh fans with your indignation....It makes the whole laughing stock extend for a few more weeks.

  • Comment number 14.

    Good to see that you haven't forgotten the rest of the continent after all.

    I agree that many youngsters are jumping ship for the better salaries in Europe far too soon.

    For me there is no genetic superiority in South American football, the main contributory factor in the production line of talent is the fact that the best players are stripped out of the South American leagues at each transfer window, leaving gaps in the first team squad to be filled by enthusiastic teenagers. By the time players like Ortega, Aimar, Saviola, Tevez, Gago, etc reached the age of 20/21 they had 100 odd games in the first team in the league and at continental level, that is a huge amount as compared to youth players at English clubs nowadays (How many English players under the age of 21 are playing regular Champions League football?).

    The problem is getting worse though as the European clubs are signing them sooner and sooner. and Ever Banega didn't even manage one full season at Boca before joining Valencia and Insua didn't even play a single first team game before joining Liverpool.

    I can't see FIFA doing anything to help South America in this issue, given their fundamental disregard for several South American nations with their high altitude ban.

  • Comment number 15.

    Great blog as usual Tim!

    Want to get your thoughts of Fabio and Rafael. Fabio played for ManU this weekend and looked just as promising as Rafael.

    In relation to your blog, Fabio and Rafael have left early from Fluminense and it will be interesting to see how they develop.

    I understand Fabio is supposed to be a better prospect (especially after the U-17s World Championships) and was expected to make a greater impact, but unfortunately he got injured.

    My question is whether you see the twins as future Brazilian wing backs (assuming Quieroz doesn't get his way) - I'm not sure who holds these positions since Cafu/R. Carlos; I know D. Alves is in great form for Barca.

    Also back in Brazil; are they aware of Fabio and Rafael’s talent as they we whisked away early from Fluminense?


  • Comment number 16.


    Again you demonstrate that you are miles ahead of every other blog. Infact, only robbo on top form can touch you!

    Love the repsnse to the city fan!. What the blue mancunions dont understand is that saying FACT!! after a sentence doesnt make it a fact!!

    Keep up the good work tim! Looking forward to the next clumn you do on Columbia. They seem to be enigmas!

  • Comment number 17.

    Erm... Ged? What on earth are you thinking making such ridiculous comments?
    I am a City fan and am quite frankly embarrassed to be associated with you.
    Seriously, Kaka would be slightly crazy to come to City (much as I would have loved him too). We are not yet big enough for him to join. I would rather we didn't sign players that are only with us for money anyway.

    Tim has not (in my opinion) slated Man City, and lets be honest here, we're not really THAT big a club these days.
    In the past we've enjoyed some success, but we have a way to go before we're mentioned in the same category as Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal. Especially by commentators abroad.
    Lets get some perspective, and get over Kaka.

    Tim, great blog as usual. It is a shame that the allure of Europe is so tempting to young South American players. I suppose a lot of them have their heads turned by agents. Are the rules the same in S.America the same as Europe when it comes to the movement of young players? Although a lot of clubs are export businesses now, I am sure some would rather they could hang on to their brightest prospects.

    It is sad to hear about the financial difficulties of South American football over recent years, as it no doubt a gold mine of talented players. Brazil and Argentina aside, the rest of the South American countries aren't really up there with the European sides, even though they undoutedly produce some quality players.

    We complain about the evils of money in Europe, but it certainly isn't any better where you are is it?

    Once again, great blog - and thanks for publicly lambasting that fool.

  • Comment number 18.

    We're dealng with human beings here, so it's never ging to be an exact science - there are some who benefit from moving early - going to Barca as a pre-adolescent didn't do Messi any harm.

    In the case of Fabio and Rafael I can understand United's decision to get them over early - in Brazil full backs are more attackers than defenders, so by catching them young United are able to develp the defensive side of their game.

    Fabio was indeed the more impressive of the two playng for Brazil at Under-17 level. He captianed the side, and adding up the South American U-17 Championhips and the World U-17 Cup, he scored an extraordinary 10 goals to Rafael's 1.

    As that goal tally suggests, Fabio was playing from left back rather than at left back. Perhaps part of the explanation for Rafael's earlier success at United (along with Fabio's injury and the form of Evra) is that it might have been easier to get him to adapt to playing amore tactically disciplined game.

    As ageneral rule, though, I 'm all in favour of players being in the first team - at whatever level - rather than sitting on the bench at a higher level. Step by step.

    Manco's an excellent example - he moved at the very moment when he would have become a first team player for Alianza. When hes hould have been crossing the divide between promise and reality he was crossing the Atlantic instead.

  • Comment number 19.


    I read an article on Manco and it stated that he and the rest of the team received a monetory reward for qualifying to the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup. He used the money not for his own personal needs and wants, but to give his mother an operation she needed, and to help his father with his diabetes.

    I believe that money is a major issue in that when a player is brought up in a poorer area, the need for them to be out earning is vitally important to contribute to their family.

    Yes these players are brought up with the ball at their feet, which results in magnificent players being produced, but if the offer comes up to move abroad, which would bring the ability to support their family and improve their standard of living, they are bound to take this.

    But at what cost? - the issues you have discussed is a concern but the social factor must be considered when looking at why certain players move abroad i.e. Manco

    What are your views on this? Families who are poor and cannot afford medical care - and rely on their young 'wonderkid' to move abroad at the earliest opportunity and earn big bucks? Is this a common concern in South America?

  • Comment number 20.

    an extremely common concern - very often a youngster who shows some promise has the economic hopes of his entire extended family heaped on his shoulders.

  • Comment number 21.

    In reply to Ged

    1) Manchester City are not a big club - fact
    2) Manchester City have a South American player who didnt get into Real Madrids first XI yet you still paid £32million - Fact
    3) Manchester city will never win the league - FACT
    4) You are a rich club but money doesnt buy you love! - FACT
    5) How do you feel having an ex United player as manager - FACT! ever thought he may be doing this to send you down???

    neways Tim, love the blog as always and do agree that South American players do make the move too early in their careers.. I suppose if they are good enough then they are old/young enough but most of the time they should stick to their own.

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Tim, first time commenting here but your blog helps me to cope with the Monday blues! Saw a comment above from CraftyWBA and wanted to add my own weight to that question, as to whether the lower (or as I'm assuming he means, non-Sky 4) Premier League teams would be more available to bring in young South American talent?

    I'm an Evertonian, and our history in that area extends only to a young lad called Rodrigo, who I remember having a quality look about him but got injured, and Anderson da Silva, who's now at Barnsley. I'm not suggesting we start bringing in raw and unproven players, who we then can't give a game (I know Liverpool have done this fairly unspectacularly recently with Leto, Insua, etc.) But with such a reserve of quality players coming through and the chance to impress on the European stage, you would think a team like Everton, or West Brom, would look around South America a bit more. You only have to look at the contingent at Wigan to see how what many may consider a gamble can pay off.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Comment number 23.

    It seems a very interesting topic. I remember reading years ago that when Saviola first moved to Barcelona his family desperately needed the money as his father (I think) was very sick.

    Also, Riquelme, possibly the biggest star playing in South America, never seemed to want to move away from Boca but did so after one of his siblings was kidnapped and held for ransom. This also happened to Robinho (who would have gone anyway) when his mother was kidnapped.
    As much as I agree that many of these players move too early, there are many factors that us observers don't even consider.

    I am from Ireland and generally for an Irish player to make it as a professional footballer it involves going over to an English club at the age of 14 or 15. Although there is an argument that they might be served better by staying here for a few more years (Roy Keane and Kevin Doyle are examples) the reality is that if they don't go when the offer is there it might never come again.

    I'm sure Tim that with your knowledge of South American football you could come up with a few examples of players who chose not to go when the offer was there and never got another one.

    Great column. Keep it up.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi Tim,

    Interesting read, south american football amazes me with the talent that it produces.

    I will shortly be in Brazil myself for 4 weeks travelling i start in Rio from the 16th of Feb.

    what is the best and safest way for me to go about trying to get tickets to a match?

    I will also be in Buenos Aires, Uruaguay and Santiago. Any recommendations on who to try and see?

    Don't worry Iv got accomidation so im not after a place to kip ;)


  • Comment number 25.

    Great blog Tim.

    Love to read up on the column as it gives me some ideas of folk to sign on Football Manager. haha.

    As for the City fan giving it the big licks, its just another case of being jealous...

    This is how it feels to be city...
    this is how it feels to be small
    this is how it feels when your team wins nothing at all..nothing at nothing at all..

  • Comment number 26.

    great blog as usual.Milan just signed Mattioni from Gremio as well as the captures of Viudez and Cardacio last summer.Could you please give me your opinion of these players as well as Thiago Silva.Thanks!

  • Comment number 27.

    By the way Ged your post had be me in stitches.if you added magic tricks to your act you would kill on the chidren's birthday party circuit!

  • Comment number 28.

    Moving too young is a concern but to me the most important thing is where they move to and what the immediate prospects of football are.
    Crazy transfers to places like Qatar (zarate) are obviously rash. Laucha Acosta is a great young player but Sevilla already had LUis Fabiano, Kanoute and more.

    I'm pleased that two weeks ago i posted about Eduardo Salvio being one to watch for Argentina. The team hasnt clicked yet but he's scored in all 3 games.

    Post 24 - i hate Boca but its probably the best experience. Also try Racing and Huracán (where independiente are also playing).
    If you fancy a division 2 game, my team Chacarita are home on feb 28th and march 14th. We make a fantastic atmosphere!

  • Comment number 29.

    Firslty, brilliant blog as usual, always a good read on a monday!

    My point is about the issue of players moving abroad too early. Obviously there are many examples of this that you quote a lot. But there are a few examples of players that do move early and seem to do extremely well. For example the da silva twins at united are very young, and as far as im aware didn't play too much for their previous club (was it fluminese?). They have come over, and adapted brilliantly and were talking about Manchester here, a place that couldn't be more different from their native Brazil.

    Surely the success of these players depends more upon the support they are given at the club they move to and not so much about the number of first team games they play in their home leagues. For example the twins moved to a place where there are a few brazillians already and a couple of portugese, and Fergie had learnt from the Veron experience that they need special attention to acclimatise when they arrive.

    Surely the failiure is on the clubs behalf and not the players if they dont quite settle and live up to their clear potential.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Tim,

    I understand the economic need for some to jump swiftly to Europe at the first opportunity. But is there any structure in place to give any sort of guidance to these young players? Do any clubs have the players' best interests at heart or are they glad to take the money and run?

    For example, perhaps a policy of not selling any youngster who has not been in the first team for at least one season.

    It's such a shame but it continues to happen. How can a youngster with a handful of games move to say Barca, Man Utd etc. and ever hope to get into the first teams? To do that they must be a Pele, Maradona etc.

    Is there no way to balance the forces of economic need and what is best for the player's development?

  • Comment number 31.

    People in england might not appreciate the power of outside influence on young players in SA.
    Its very common that agents and 3rd-party investors own a large percentage of a player's economic rights. Obviously it is in their interest to acheive a transfer with a return on their investment being the priority rather than career prospects.
    Impressionable young players can be easily dazzled by the offer of a fat contract under pressure.
    The Tevez situation might seem strange and even immoral in england but in Argentina it is perfectly normal.

  • Comment number 32.

    Great Blog again Mr V,

    More insightful stuff, Keep it up!

    I dont think that the early moves of South American talent to Europe is going to end anytime soon, unless the SA economy takes a massive influx to catch up with the European economy?!

    Maybe, i know this has been banded about before, there should be more restrictions placed on them befroe they can move abroad, so that they can mature a lil bit more, thus making it easier to adapt to life in Europe playing for a big team?! obviously we all know that the media never helps thing by over-hyping players, but then again that is another thing thats not going to change anytime soon?!

    What if it wasnt so much an age quote brought in before they are allowed to move abroad, what about more of the likes of a kind of Work Permit scheme, but where by the player has to play for so long or for a certain percentage of his teams "First Team" matches???

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi Tim,

    I love this blog, very informative and well written, and I have taken to not sleeping on a Saturday night, just to listen to the world football phone-in. You and Doton make me laugh!

    You mention the fact that some young players do not make it when going to Europe, but cite the example of Farfan as someone who has done. Now, I've watched him play, and he's talented, but he's not Messi. Why is it that some succeed, but others don't? Obviously there is no magic formula, but how much does Language, Location, Help from another South-American at the same club, or just plain ability come into it?

    Also, a quick fact check, who was the last English player to play in South America?

    Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 34.

    good blog tim

    As a big PSV Eindhoven supporter, I dont think Manco went to Europe too early.
    Ronaldo was only 18 years old when he joined us in the mid-nineties, and he made an instant impact. In fact he moved to Barcelona within 2 years of coming to Europe.
    The reason why we bought Manco at such a young age, was because otherwise we could never have afforded him.
    If we left Manco in Peru another year or two and he would have become a star, big English or Spanish clubs would have bought him. PSV would never have been able to compete with the money that other clubs offer.
    PSV has to take risks and sign talented but unproven players in order to bring new talent in the team. Sometimes it works like with Romario and Ronaldo, sometimes it doesnt. Maybe thats the reason why we are currently fifth in the Eredivisie.
    Manco also had some personal problems as well, he left for Peru in December I think to see his family. Maybe thats the reason why he performed poorly.

  • Comment number 35.


    You blog is second to none in the BBC site, I always read it with great interest as it's nice to see people write what they know about and spread the knowledge.

    The sheer idiocy from "Ged, Manchester" who asks a question and labels it a fact is just incredible, i'm a tad disappointed that you had to even bother to reply to it.

    Despite that, keep up the good work, I love the blog!

  • Comment number 36.


    Great blog, its great quality and something different.

    You describe how europe is sucking the footballing talent away from south america but is south america still at the forefront of tactics and match preparation and training and the like, the way uruguay and brazil were in the 50s and 60s? Are there good younng coaches, or interesting tactics that might surprise the world in the world cup?

  • Comment number 37.

    Hiya Tim,

    Gotta say I love your column, its always interesting, well written and gives all the football manager players an insight into how the latest teenage prodigy they have just signed is doing in the real world!

    As a City Fan I am a little dissapointed with Ged havin a pop as there has been for worse written about City than what you have written... BUT I can understand his frustration with all the very very bad press we have been getting recently. I point you in the direction of an article in the independent written by Michael Henderson, now that really did warrent a complaint.

    Anyways, don't lable us City Fans as bad guys, we just feel unfairly treated by the media at the moment and I'm sure your article was the straw that broke the camels back for Ged!

    Keep up the good work


  • Comment number 38.

    Brilliant blog Tim, this blog has helped me win many times on Football Manager, you are effectively my favorite scout ;)

    Just gotta say Ged, you are a disgrace to city fans. Without humility WE are no better then Manure/Chelski.

  • Comment number 39.

    Great to read the views from S.A. on the toings and froings Tim. Very informative. Please let Mr. D. Moyes know if you spot a goodun (at the right price). Cheers

  • Comment number 40.

    I’m Brazilian, I live in São Paulo and I personally like Tim’s column…
    I think he has a comprehensive writing and a critical approach and I find this blog one of the most interesting in BBC.

    Just for the records, Tim has been very precise with his writing about Manchester City… it is true that the team is not familiar to most football fans in Brazil – a possible reason is the fact that the coverage of the European football in the country is much more focused in the Italian and Spanish leagues. There is one TV Channel which now shows specific games from the PL, but the coverage is still limited. Hopefully this will change in the future.

    Tim, keep up the good work!



  • Comment number 41.

    Hi Tim,
    Just to say that this is by far and away my favourite BBC blog.

    It's great - thanks!

  • Comment number 42.

    Don't listen to the city fan Tim, i heard your interview on Sky Sports News and it was quite funny when you said some thought Robinho went back because he thought it was a winter break! (ouch)

    A nice article, giving an update on Douglas Costa (not much has been speculated about him since the last spurt of nonsense).

    What i want to know is, why is Tevez's disciplinary record in internationals so poor? Do South American referees not care much for the aggressive in your face style that he has? If that is the case i do hope he stays with Utd, because in any other league, maybe bar Italy, his poor disciplinary record for Argentina would spill into his club game.

  • Comment number 43.

    First off great column once again Tim, one of the things that stands you out from the other Bloggers is that you give long, concise replys in the comments section too.

    I agree that players tend to go to Europe too early but what choice do they have? If a player at 17 gets an offer from Real Madrid who are willing to pay him 4 times what he is on now he'd bite their hand off, as would any of us.

    Even if you get a level headed young player who would like to stay in South America and improve before going to Europe, whats to say he won't get a serious injury or a dramatic loss in form which could destroy the chances of another offer coming in? If football, as in life, you have to take great opportunities when they come as you don't know what is round the corner. Hundsight is a great thing and it is only when a player has failed can we say he came to Europe too early.

  • Comment number 44.

    Tim, who do you think we should look out for from Brazil and Argentinas u-20 squad? Salvio and Walter look promising

  • Comment number 45.

    This "Ged" from Manchester is another clueless fan from these shores who is ignorant to the world outside of English football.

    He is probably someone who fails to realise the danger of Arab billions in English football.

    If I was asked to name the 5 biggest clubs in England, Man City would certainly not be one of them.

    Anyway, excellent blog as always Vickery.

  • Comment number 46.

    Tim, great blog again.

    It was really interesting reading your comments about transfers to Europe to soon. I have a follow question about this but relating to South American players in the Ukrainian leagues.

    Why do I see that so many South American players are transfered to teams in the Ukraine ? I am follower of Shakhtar in the Ukrainain High League, and was a little dissapointed to see them sell Brandao to Marseille, however, it made me think of why these players move to the Ukraine anyway? Its cold, and the standard of football is nothing special. Yet, at Shakhtar alone there is Willian, Fernandinho, Marcelo Moreno and Ilsinho (to name the biggest names) playing for Shakhtar, where as Diogo Rincon is playing Dinamo Kiev. Why do these south american players end up in this league ? They clearly are talented players, do they slip under the radar of other clubs ? Or is the scouting of the ukrainian clubs of a better standard ?


    Dave (from Birmingham)

  • Comment number 47.


    I'm not convinced by this article. Though I appreciate your reporting on the subject, the fact that Reimond Manco is having a poor under-20 tournament says very, very little about whether he will ultimately have a successful career. That's the first problem. Really, does it matter if he plays well here? Second, how can we know that he would have played better if he had stayed in South America? Perhaps he's just not that good. Or perhaps the bedding-in process of establishing himself in Europe, while benefiting him in the long run, is temporarily harming his form (not saying it is, just saying it's possible). Perhaps he's carrying an injury. Who can say?

    When you even concede that others (Messi, Pato, etc) have done just fine moving to Europe at a young age, this entire column really boils down to "this Reimond Manco is having a rough time of it." That's not a strong foundation on which to build an argument about how a generation of South American kids should build their careers.

  • Comment number 48.

    47 - you're not convinced by the article, and I'm not convinced you've read it properly.

    Obviiusly Manco is an example - there are many others. The highest profile one 2 years ago was Jose Montiel of Paraguay, 2007 hosts, who had been to the 2006 World Cup, moved to Italy and was supposed to boss the Paraguay team - had a nightmare.

    The key was in the line about Brazil - they have taken the conscious decision not to bring anyone back from Europe because they've been burned by this so many times.

    This is a tend we're talking about, for which Manco serves as an example. As I wrote in the comments section, this is not an exact science - here is no ne size fits all approach. Some players are so preciously talnted that you can throw them straight into the deep end in European football and they can thrive - Ronaldo, Pato, Messi - but there are very, very few who fall nt this category.

    I do indeed feel for the youngsters - thereare so nay forces around them pushing them towards an early move - they might be owned by an investment consortium looking for a quick profit, or their club needs to sell to pay the wage bill from 3 months ago, and there is there own natural anxiety tha the chance may never come again.

    But if you're not convinced that many South American careers have been ruined by the premature move to Europe then you've been watching a different sport.

  • Comment number 49.

    good article tim as usual. as for the man city fan not one of those are fact whatsoever. man city - when was their last major trophy? how did they make mugs of chelsea over robinho? from what i remember their was never any official confirmation that chelsea even bid for him just speculation. it also isnt fact they are the richest club in the world either. its their owner thats rich not the club itself. all of his money doesnt belong to them so they are just a poor club with a billionaire owner who is willing to back them for now. he will get sick when he realises they are going nowhere. even robinho has already seen they are never gonna be big.

    oh and yeh if man city are disliked its because of fans like you who suddenly think they will dominate everything when in reality even with all their money they will never be able match man utd, chelsea, liverpool, arsenal and even villa because they will never have a settled team as players will always be worrying whether they will be sold or not.

    south american players really should take their time before moving over here. such a shame when they leave earlier than they should because for everyone that does and is a success there is loads that dont make it because of the hype getting to them. such a waste of real talent

  • Comment number 50.

    wdmamb, moving players at too young an age is detrimental to their future careers depending on how the move is managed and I believe that Tim has a very valid point [youth players transfers to europe is a pet hate of Tim's!]

    Manco moved to europe at 17/18 when you would have expected him to start playing in the 1st team every week (or at least the reserves). This is because 17-19 period is when the skills you associate with a player become fine-tuned and their fitness levels allow them to play a high number of competitive games most regularly without becoming injured. Sitting on the bench is not how a player becomes successful! Expecting him to be a success in an international tournament after spending 1 year on a bench is unreasonable and this will impact his career moving forward.

    Messi on the other hand moved to Barca when he was 12 [with his family], grew through the Spanish youth system and wasn't an official first team player for 4-5 years (

    Different ways of managing the transfer, very different results.

  • Comment number 51.


    well said!!! top 5 clubs in england are man utd, liverpool, arsenal, chelsea and villa and even before you reach city you got everton, tottenham, portsmouth, wigan and so on that have arguably more success and are bigger clubs

  • Comment number 52.

    Ged's comment shows the arrogance of the newly rich of football; City are a well supported midtable premiership team but their only bait for new signings is money: Chelsea MK II- no way.

    Kaka might leave the San Siro for the Bernabeau or the Camp Nou to better his career but not to Eastlands to scrap for a Intertoto place.

    Kaka might like to play with C .Ronaldo, Torres or Fabergas but not Stephen Ireland.

    Sorry, Ged - no conspiracy, just facts and honest opinions.

    Keep up the good work Tim!

  • Comment number 53.

    why isn't tim vicary chief football writer?

  • Comment number 54.

    Vikipedia indeed. What a legend!

    Anyway, Tim, here's a question. I watched Chile beat Argentina a couple of months ago, and they looked really impressive. I know they weren't favourites at the beginning of the campaign (even my Chilean friends were sceptical of the team), but they seem to be in good shape. What do you think of Chile's chances of qualifying for World Cup 2010? And might Chilean football be on the up overall?

  • Comment number 55.

    53 - i'm more than happy with my little niche.

    you're only as good as your subject, and I'm blessed by having an area as culturally rich and fascinating as South American football to write about.

    Back in England writing about the Premiership - would mean putting up with the likes of Ged every week. Not for me.

  • Comment number 56.

    54 - Chile have a great chance of qualifying.

    Bielsa has them playing some very attacking stuff - leaves them open - they've lost 3-0 at home to both Paraguay and Brazil. But it also means that they win games - they've won more than Brail and Argentina so far,and with some theortetically straightforward home games to come, I think they'll make it.

    and yes, Chilean football in general seems to be making strides.

  • Comment number 57.

    Hi Tim,

    I was wondering if you could update me on the performances of Mateo Musacchio of Riverplate. I understand he's already been signed by Real Madrid and was loaned back to River. Is he fulfilling his potential? Has he got the ability to play for Real Madrid?

  • Comment number 58.

    Great stuff Tim! The best thing on bbc sport as always.

  • Comment number 59.

    Great blog Tim,

    Always a pleasure to read - not so much because Sth America is interesting, but your skills as a football correspondent make it so for the neutral reader.

    Please keep up the great commentary on all aspects of the game! Your view is very insightful.

  • Comment number 60.

    Ged from Manchester - learn to evolve.

    Big clubs win things consistently.
    Medium sized clubs win things now and then.
    Small clubs win things like Man City.

  • Comment number 61.

    57 - in keeping with the spirit of today's piece, it's very early to give much of an impression on musacchio.
    He's had a handful of first team games, and unfortuneatly he's injured and sitting out the South American Under-20s

  • Comment number 62.

    Fantastic article as ever Tim, I agree that its the best on the site. Ged 'the impartial barometer of South American public opinion' doesn't know what he's talking about.

    The only credible 'fact' was that City's owners may be the richest in football; you can have all the money in the world but Kaka will not be the last to demonstrate that City are not a big club.

    Robinho chose City because he was desperate to leave Madrid just like he will one day be desperate to leave City when he realises the Champions League dream is exactly that.

  • Comment number 63.

    Mr. Vickery

    I think you've made a mistake replying to such a comment as the second one in your article. I always count on this blog for some class, not just from you, but also from the informed people who are knowledgeable enough to be able to carry a good discussion on this blog. You shouldn't compromise this by entertaining people who end their sentences with "fact"; you'll invite all the crazy 606ers.

    I suspect it was the personal attack that got to you. Don't let it.

  • Comment number 64.

    63 - attacks are welcome - let a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend! Those of us who make our living passing judgement on the work of others need the same to happen to us, even (perhaps especially) if the verdict is not always favourable.

    The real reason I chose ged's e-mail was that it gve me an opportunity to write some of the lines tht the brazilian press have been coming out with about Man City. i've done this on TV and radio but nowhere in written form.

    fair enough, exposing someone's stupidity is a bit cruel - even if all I did was give him enough rope - but I did (and still do) think that people in Britain will be interested (even if not always pleased) to read a Brazilian perception of Man city.

  • Comment number 65.

    Has Ged from Manchester been spending time with Rafa Benitez? There is a silly trend to say fact after statements of utter nonsense and make a fool out of themselves for doing so.

    Luckily Tim, as stated in the past, you are not one of them. I read your article weekly without fail and love seeing football on a different continent. It would be a great idea to have someone as equally skilled as you to write from Africa, Asia, North America, etc.

    It's a shame that young players from South America don't get the chance to learn their trade before being whisked away to Europe. We could be missing out on some amazing players for the future with these tactics.

  • Comment number 66.

    Tim, great blog, quick question. You mention that you 'consider the highlight of my career catching Lionel Messi on the way up in the 2005 version in Colombia' at the south american u-20 youth championships in Colombia. Then after that you mention some huge names in world football who have also appeared in this competition. What is it about Messi, that made him the highlight for you since covering this tournament? I'm curious as i can't find videos of the tournament on the web or artcles in English. I'm aware how brilliant he was in Holland during the youth world cup, and his performances in a Barcelona shirt was he just as good in Colombia?

  • Comment number 67.

    As per usual, a wonderful read. I look forward to reading your blog every Monday. I do not agree with the second comment you responded to about Man City, Ignorance at the highest level towards you and the Brazillian media.

    Keep up the good work.Ryan, N.Ireland

  • Comment number 68.

    On the main subject of players leaving for Europe too young, what do you make of the case of Emiliano Insua? He seemed to be highly rated when he came to Liverpool and then proceeded to get stuck in the reserves and this in part damaged his chances of playing for the Olympics. After being given time by Rafa, he has finally made it into the first team and is now back in the Argentina side. Do you think Liverpool's approach to the 'wonderkid' (ie giving him time to develop and adapt in Europe) will help him in the long run? Or has it meant that he has dropped off people's radars?

  • Comment number 69.

    66 - with messi it was a case of being instantly aware that you were in the presence of something very special - that ability to dribble with the ball tied to his left foot, to find the sudden burst to take him past his marker - it was all there.

    he was only 17 at the time and he found the competition hard going (no surprise - 9 games in 3 weeks). Also, the Argentina side didn't work that well - they changed all their strikers for the World Youth Cup 6 months later.

    So he wasn't the most effective player on show - that was Rodallega, the Colombian who has just joined Wigan, who couldn't stop scoring. But I think everyone who was there was aware that in Messi we were seeing a future superstar.

  • Comment number 70.

    Tim, a bit off topic but talking about youngsters moving to Europe...what do you make of Denilson.

    I am an arsenal fan and feel he's still yet to show what he can really do.

    Is he well known in Brazil? and what do fans in south America make of him? Do you think he has what it takes to become a first team Brazilian player?


  • Comment number 71.

    Hi Tim.

    Enjoyed the article once again, look for it every Monday. I had a question about Brazilian full backs, and the quest for the replacement of Cafu and Roberto Carlos.

    From a right back point of view they have both Maicon and Dani Alves who could both be seen as 2 of the best full backs in the world, and look set in that department, however at left back Dunga relied on Gilberto to begin with and now Kleber who doesn't look anywhere near Roberto Carlos' level.

    How comes the Inter Milan left wing back Maxwell hasn't had a look in at any level for Brazil until now, despite playing well enough for Ajax to move to Inter and being a regular there
    Also will Fabio and Rafael get a look in at the full team any time soon with Quieroz hovering over them for the Portuguese National team who also need a full back?

  • Comment number 72.

    gunner_t, I think this was discussed a few weeks ago and that Tim posted a response to this question (not a dig at you but if he doesn't reply you should check out the archives)

  • Comment number 73.

    Cheers V40man, I must of missed it so will try looking back and find it.

  • Comment number 74.

    Great article, as usual, Tim! Thanks! Somehow, I doubt "Ged" could do better!

  • Comment number 75.,19528,11670_4841282,00.html

    States there that Denilson is on the fringes of the national team, although i'm not sure how they'd know that?! I'm guessing he is rated a lot more in Brazil than say 6 months ago, because he has started almost every game for us. He is a decent player and seems a great lad, very polite and quiet and I would like to see him succeed at Arsenal. But we have some exceptional young midfielders at the club and with Wenger apparently looking for an experienced centre mid to partner Fab i'm not sure Denilson will quite make it, but we will see.

  • Comment number 76.

    looks like I was thinking of the other Denilson, apologies.

    On promo note for Tim, how do we start campaigning to have Tim included in the BBC team for WC 2010? [Imagine Vickery Vs Lineker and Hansen]

    Seriously, you could provide valuable impartial insight during what promises to be a great competition

  • Comment number 77.

    Another great blog Tim,just one complaint:

    Placing Lucas in the same catogory as mascherano,alves,messi,pato,etc is criminal.The boy is awful 80% or more of the time and seems my wife understands football more than him.

    This comes from a Liverpool fan so no accusations of bias.

  • Comment number 78.

    Great blog Mr. Vickery, I learnt something from the BBC sport pages, how about that?

    I would like to know your thoughts on Chelsea's young South American Franco Di Santo, who seemed to be fairly in demand leading up to the eventual transfer.

    Now however he never seems to get anything other than the odd sub appearance in cup games. Is he the player we were led to elieve he was? Did you ever have a chance to see him before the move?

  • Comment number 79.

    I was watching the Man U vs Spurs FA Cup game and was pleased to see Tevez win the Man of the Match award. He fully deserved it because of his endless running and never-give-up attitude. It is this attitude that Arsenal, the team I support, are lacking. Do you think that Manchester United will pay the reported £30 Million to keep the world-class player or will he opt to join the likes of Real Madrid?

  • Comment number 80.

    Tim, sorry to hear that you're still having to put up with City fans (wrongly) thinking you hate their club.

    Perhaps you should hurry up and invent the one-ended stick :D

  • Comment number 81.

    78 - saw plenty of Di Santo - 2 years ago in the South American Under-20s (wasn't quite ready) and then for his Chilean club, Audax Italiano in the Libertadores.

    Like him a lot - a bit remeniscent of the young Roque Santa cruz, though perhaps without the same searing acceleration that Roque had.

    Threat in the air, surprisingly subtle on the ground, combines well - he was worrying good defences in South America.

    I tend to think it's a shame he went to Chelsea - would have liked to see him go somewhere where he would be getting a regular game.

    Incidentally, Argentina called him up for the current U-20 tournament, but Chelsea didn't realise. A pity, just like at senior level, Argentina are missing a tall striker.

  • Comment number 82.

    Ged, Manchester. I find it rather pathetic that you take offense at Tim Vickery reporting the truth. It is not his fault that people in Brazil look down their noses at Manchester City. It is the clubs. What your ridiculously rich investors do not seem to realize is that money cannot buy tradition, history or respect. The people of Brazil know this, and to them (and the rest of the world for that matter), Manchester City are, and will always be, a poor mans United.

    If you were to talk about how Mr. Vickery has a tendancy to do little more than re-hash old information in the majority of his blogs, I would happily agree with you. That said, this was a good read.

  • Comment number 83.

    Dublinred96, maybe i can try to answer your question about loaning players back to their clubs. Loaning players is quite often a last resort for managers and managers in general prefer to give starts to those that have a future with the club. Just look at Spurs who were forced to accept Frazier Campbell due to lack of numbers and even when the big Russian mis-fired early on, Juande was still not happy to stick with Campbell even when he came on and made an impact.

  • Comment number 84.

    Hi Tim;

    Slightly off topic but what do you really think the local government here in Brasil will improve in the next 60 months prior to staging the world cup here??

    Do you think the country at present realistically has the infrastructure to match the FIFA requirements for staging such a tournament?

  • Comment number 85.

    82 - a news report oulines new developments.
    A column attempts to put news in perspective.
    A blog is a column that allows comments from people, including those who don't know the difference between the two.

  • Comment number 86.

    Excellent blog Tim, again.

    Just to point out to Captain Manchester, I'm pretty sure Robinho at his unveiling said it was great to sign for Chelsea, so who are the real mugs there?

    And also, do you know anything of Keirrison?

  • Comment number 87.


    I would also like to comment how much I enjoy reading your blogs. It may be that it's a subject I know little about that makes it fascinating reading, but what a lot of people would give to have an insightful journalist writing about our domestic game back in the UK. That said I don't want to stop reading about the game in other countires espicially a continent as prestigous as S America and am also currently enjoying the book A Global History Of Football you mentioned some weeks back.

    You clearly know your stuff and believe in what you write and I especially enjoyed your inclusion of and response to Ged's email!

    My Question though... I believe that Spain, Portugal and Belguim? among others are able to sign young South Americans with little or no work permit problems unlike the UK where they must have played 75% of games where they were available for selection in the previous 2 years (Wikipedia, 2009!). If the same were to apply in the UK do you think that would add to the current problems in South American football creating even more of a clamour to make easily available money accross the Atlantic?

    Would this be welcome extra income to improve the game there or just extra profit?

  • Comment number 88.

    Truly the best blog on BBC Sport, has there ever been a bad Tim Vickery article? Your pieces in World Soccer Magazine are just as good.

    Strange to hear about Douglas Costa again. I remember all the hype surrounding a possible transfer to Europe, and even as a United fan I'm glad Gremio moved quickly to keep him. Already at United we have Anderson, who although is a good player, I feel could have had more potential with a little more time in Brazil. He didn't get many games at Porto as I remember and he's been a little rough this season. South American players should try and stay in their home countries until they are a little older.

    Riquelme moved back to Argentina, he's still a player involved in the national setup and a good few years left in him, so perhaps that shows that the players who focus more on the game than the money snub Europe. More players should follow in his footsteps.

  • Comment number 89.

    RE: Montiel. I think of all the teams he could have gone to Tim, Udinese would have seemed the most logical. Remember they bought Zapata at an earlier age and it turned out to be a master-stroke. I think that's just the way it works sometimes.

    They've just signed another Colombian wonderkid, Victor Ibarbo - so it will be interesting to see which way that works out.

    Also, I could have sworn that Dynamo Kyiv signed a 14 year old Bolivian at one point last season. Do you have info on him?

  • Comment number 90.

    I don't need to add to the praise you already get above.
    I just hope that the owners of Leeds United read your columns and pick up some bargains.

    But you should be careful, lest you attract the ire of of influential people in the BBC who earn more money for doing less work.

    I don't know the sources of your information, but you clearly put in more research effort than than many other BBC "bloggers" or editors who just repeat what they read elsewhere from Associated Press or other companies.

    Many at the BBC now seem to concentrate too much on the "Entertain" aspect of the BBC charter rather than the "Educate" and "Inform"

  • Comment number 91.



    Exactly the reason why the Beeb should relocate to South America and make you the chief!

  • Comment number 92.

    Further to my last post, Tim (#90 and your comments at #64),
    they will suggest greater use of the spell-checker as an excuse for not giving you a pay rise!

  • Comment number 93.

    Udinese seem to sign up by the cartload - if it comes off fine, if not, no problem, let's go looking for another one.

    Ibarbo is very strong, can fill a number of positions across the midfield, but nothing to go mad about.

    The Bolivian at Dynamo Kiev - Diego Suarez - midfielder, strikes the ball well - played in the Under-20s though he's still only 16 (young enough for the South American Under-17s later this year). I haven't seen anything to justify the fuss yet - but it's very, very early days.

  • Comment number 94.

    ...and you stay up late Tim, or get up very early.
    At these hours it's easier for me as I currently live in the US. It would be nice to see 606 being open 24 hours.

  • Comment number 95.

    Great blog Tim, very interesting. But i have a good question for you.

    Regarding national teams, when there is a torunament such as a World cup or the Euros, the players in every squad are scattered about all over the world plying their trade at club level. But when it comes to the English national team, very rarely do you get players from outside of the Nations leagues. The only recent example i can think of are Beckham at RM and LA, Hargreaves at Bayern and Michael Owen at RM. I think Woodgate might have played a game or 2 for England while he was at RM too, but now i cannot think of 1 National team player who dosent play club football in England. Is this maybe due to the fact that not many English players move abroad? Or just a lack of scouting from the English Management? Its something i would realy like your opinion on

  • Comment number 96.

    at #95 its because not many english players play abroad. Personally i think this is down to a lack of needing or wanting to play abroad due to the high standard of the premier league and that english players generally have had problems adapting to life abroad.

  • Comment number 97.

    Ged = I.D.I.O.T {fact}

    I have never felt the need to post a blog until I read this fools letter and the fact that you have been publicly chastised and humiliated by your own city fans for your misguided and frankly hilarious claims speaks volumes.

    Without wishing to attack city, your claim to be not only a big club, but a 'very' big club is astonishing. Could you point out to me the last time you won anything of note? (excluding the Championship) As this in my book is what 'big' clubs do.

    Tim, not only consistently good blogs, but considered replies to others questions and opinions.

  • Comment number 98.

    #82 has it spot on.

    The only way to be a big club is to win consistently and when you don't, then threaten to win something.

    There is something of a democratic aristocracy in football. Any club can become part of it but it requires dedicated success over years.

    Elements of Man City and Newcastle supporters both suffer from this "big club but no trophies" syndrome. History is made on the pitch not in the stands.

  • Comment number 99.

    Quick question before the bulk of my post - when and why did you develop your interest in South American football? Did you always intend to move there, or was this a pleasant opportunity which came your way?

    Anyway, Ged from Manchester - here's a fact: you failed to notice that in response to a question from me on this very blog last week, Tim Vickery wrote that most Brazillians don't realise that Kaka would have been joining a club with a rich and long history, a large fan base and bags of potential. I think you owe the man an apology, especially for your personal attack on his credibility. Shame.

    Moving on from that fool - and back to the obligatory sycophantics! Brilliant blog as always Tim. The article on it's own would be good enough but you take it to the next level by taking the time to respond to people in the comments space. I'm sure you don't get any extra pay for that so thanks for bothering, it's the kind of dedication which is an example to anybody aspiring to become a high quality football writer. Nice one, as a journalist it must be great to get so much appreciation and direct contact with your readers. Your praise is well deserved.

  • Comment number 100.

    Tim, have you heard about Arsenal possibly buying two Brazilian youngsters: Luis Conte (14) from Mirassol and Wellington (15) from Fluminense. Your feelings on youngsters making the journey to europe too soon have been documented but I think the move hasn't proved to be detrimental to Denilson and it looks quite promising for Pedro Botelho, both of whom already having made the trip from Brazil to Arsenal.
    Do you think Arsenal are signing these players too young?

    Chris Brown


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