A history of Brazilians in the English Premier League

Richarlison has swapped Rio de Janeiro for Watford. But will he miss the food?

Philippe Coutinho may want out, but more and more Brazilians are coming to play their football in the Premier League, a point reflected by three Brazilians making their debuts last weekend. This week we have a guest post from Barrie, a Premier League stats man, who runs the excellent blog www.barriesview.com. In this post, Barry looks at the history of Brazilians in the English Premier League and how the three debutants fared.

Brazil may be the football factory of the world, but until now, many Brazilians have shunned the Premier League, preferring to play their football in places like Spain or Italy, where the language, weather and culture are closer to that of Brazil than they are in England. These issues will remain challenges for Brazilian footballers coming to England (did I mention the food?). But the Premier League is becoming increasingly popular across the world and Brazil is no exception. English clubs have improved their scouting networks and have become more adventurous in their recruitment. Add to that the money, the Pep Guardiola effect and a relaxing in visa requirements, and more and more Brazilians are bringing their football to the Premier League. It’s about time too.

Barrie takes a closer look at the numbers and how the three debutants – Richarlison, Danilo and Ederson – got on:

Three More Brazilians Make English Premier League Debut

The number of Brazilians in the English Premier League has significantly increased over the past few years with the riches of the division attracting many of football’s elite.

During the whole of the 1990s only seven Brazilian’s stepped foot in the Premier League.  They are as follows:

  • Isaías (Coventry City)
  • Juninho (Middlesbrough)
  • Branco (Middlesbrough)
  • Emerson (Middlesbrough)
  • Emerson Thome (Sheffield Wednesday & Chelsea in the 90s, later Sunderland & Bolton Wanderers)
  • Sylvinho (Arsenal)
  • Fumaça (Newcastle United)

Isaías arrived in England from Benfica in 1995, subsequently becoming the first-ever Brazilian to both play and score in the Premier League.

Juninho arrived at the Riverside Stadium a few months into the 1995-96 season to help newly-promoted Middlesbrough successfully avoid relegation in their first season.  The Little Fella instantly become a cult hero in the northeast with his flair, technical ability and dazzling displays.

He was joined at Middlesbrough by 1994 World Cup winner Branco the same season.  Though the left-back failed to settle into life in England and only made 10 Premier League appearances before leaving less than a year after he’d arrived.

By the start of the 1996-97 season Middlesbrough had added defensive midfielder Emerson to their ranks, meaning Bryan Robson’s side were responsible for three of the first four Brazilians to play in the Premier League.

Centre-back Emerson Thome was the next Brazilian to arrive.  He joined Sheffield Wednesday first, but also played Premier League football for Chelsea, Sunderland and Bolton Wanderers.  He also had stints with Wigan Athletic and Derby County in the English Championship.

Sylvinho joined Arsenal before the end of the Millennium (Edu joined the Gunners in 2000) and Fumaça was the last Brazilian to make his Premier League debut in the 90s.  In all, the midfielder played just five games for Newcastle United having previously had short spells in the lower divisions with Birmingham City, Colchester United, Barnsley and Crystal Palace.

Today there have been 67 different Brazilians to have played in the English top flight since it was rebranded in 1992.  Three of those made their debut over the weekend; the opening round of Premier League matches for the 2017-18 season.

Brazil ranks sixth among non-British nationalities to play in the Premier League – behind the Republic of Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy.  Italy have provided 68 players.  This also makes Brazil the provider of the most Premier League players of non-European nations.

Those three debutants over the weekend were as follows:

Richarlison (Watford)

Watford splashed £11.2 million on the exciting 20-year-old from Fluminense.  After impressing in his home country in Série A for the past season-and-a-half the Hornets have taken a chance on the winger as they bid to avoid relegation under new manager Marco Silva.

Richarlison was introduced on Saturday within four minutes of the second half when Watford led Liverpool 2-1.  Within 10 minutes his side were trailing 2-3.  However, the Brazilian under-20 would step up deep in stoppage time as he saw his effort turned onto the underside of the bar by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to set up teammate Miguel Britos to head home Watford’s equaliser from the goalline.

Ederson (Manchester City)

Premier League clubs, especially Manchester City, have a reputation for spending extortionate transfer fees.  The Citizens made Ederson the second most expensive goalkeeper of all-time when they paid £35 million to Benfica earlier this summer.

Ederson moved to Europe from São Paulo when he was only 16 years old, joining Portuguese giants Benfica.  Two loan spells at Ribeirão (second division) and Rio Ave (Primeira Liga) in Portugal got him a chance to play for Benfica’s B team.  It didn’t last long as he was quickly promoted to the first team and even replacing Júlio César towards the end of the 2015-16 season.  Last season he played a full season and that was seemingly enough to convince Pep Guardiola to splash a big sum on him.

Manchester City were dominant 2-0 winners at newly-promoted Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday but the odd corner and cross that Ederson had to deal with he was flapping at and didn’t look comfortable.  If this continues he isn’t going to survive in England.

Danilo (Manchester City)

Manchester City had four Brazilians in their starting lineup – Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho were the other two.  Danilo cost £26.5 million from Real Madrid having won two Champions League winners’ medals and a La Liga title in his two seasons in the Spanish capital.  His transfer fee was nearly half of what City paid AS Monaco for fellow left-back Benjamin Mendy.  It will be interesting to see how Pep Guardiola rotates throughout the season but Danilo started on Saturday as the Frenchman was injured.  The manager played a 3-5-2 formation with Danilo as the left wingback before being replaced by Leroy Sané midway through the second half with the score 0-0.

Defensively he didn’t have much to do as Solly March and Brighton saw little possession in the home side’s half.  The Brazilian did see his fair share of possession, though less than his opposite wingback, Kyle Walker. who was a candidate for man of the match.  Danilo put a couple of crosses into the box but couldn’t find a teammate.  Otherwise he did well in retaining possession for his side without carving open the defence.

The full list of Brazilians to play Premier League football since its inception in 1992 are as follows:

Article written and data collected by Premier League stat man Barrie’s View. Check out Barrie’s excellent blog (www.barriesview.com) and follow him on Twitter @BarriesView

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