Returning to South America after being at the top of Europe is a move that few elite footballers end up making. Here, we mention 7 recent cases .
Photos: TW-LuisSuarez9, TW-kingarturo23, TW-carlos7bacca
LatinAmerican Post | Theoscar Mogollón González
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Leer en español: 7 jugadores de élite que regresaron al fútbol sudamericano
Football takes many turns, and just as one day we see a South American player make the leap to Europe, over the years we see him returning to his roots. Some may think that this is a setback, but in reality they are about big bets from the clubs and attractive challenges for soccer players who are already considered elites in this sport. Are we facing an unforgettable time that we should enjoy to the fullest?
Certainly, the leagues of Brazil and Argentina are the most competitive in America, since they enjoy good economic health and that allows most of their teams to strengthen themselves in a good way to face the last instances of the Copa Libertadores and Sudamericana. Therefore, that ends up being an attraction for elite players to leave Europe (and Asia) to return through the front door to their own continent.
However, there are also the cases of those more modest leagues, such as Colombia, Uruguay and Ecuador, which with just a nostalgic touch can make a footballer return to where he took his first steps. In the end, regardless of whether it is for love or money, the contribution of these world figures to South American tournaments is welcome news for soccer fans.
Next, we review 7 cases where elite players have returned to South American football. It is worth mentioning that most of these cases have occurred during this 2022.
Ajax FC, Liverpool, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid. Since 2007, the Uruguayan striker has played in elite football, winning up to 14 collective titles and more than 40 individual distinctions. Now, at 35 years of age, Suárez returns to the National Club, which gave him the opportunity to debut as a professional. His presentation at the Gran Parque Central stadium was packed with fans who accompanied him in a caravan from his arrival at the airport. A prodigal son from Uruguay is home again.
One of the Chileans of the last golden generation chose to try what it means to play in Brazil and signed for Flamengo, current runner-up in the Copa Libertadores. Vidal is fortunate to have been part of teams like Juventus, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, raising a total of 18 trophies. His battle-hardened style of play is all that the Brazilian team needs, which has put together a renowned squad to fight for all the titles. In his third game, the Chilean scored his first goal at the Maracanã.
At just 20 years old he arrived at Benfica, and since then he has established himself in the defense of three elite clubs such as Chelsea, PSG and Arsenal. In his record he has 18 titles, half of them with the French club, where he had his compatriot Thiago Silva as his teammate. Although he has won the Champions League and Europa League, his last years were not so good, and he decided to look for new airs in his native Brazil, signing in 2021 for Flamengo.
Another case of love for a club. The midfielder made his debut in 2002 with Atlhetico Paranaense and three years later he emigrated to Ukraine to play for Shakhtar. In 2013, he arrived at Manchester City, and thanks to his character and good game, he became a bastion of the club and one of the captains of the last five years. Already 36 years old, Fernandinho put an end to his career in Europe and looked back to Curitiba, rejecting offers from Arab clubs and other greats from Brazil. His mind and heart wanted to return home, and so he did.
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Surely, he is the most important defender of Uruguay in recent decades, and part of his career is marked by winning the Europa League and European Super Cup several times. Since 2007 he has played in important leagues such as the Spanish one, with Villarreal and Atlético de Madrid, and the Italian one, with Inter Milan and Cagliari. At the beginning of 2022, he headed to Brazil with Atlético Mineiro, although it only lasted a few months, since he currently defends the colors of Vélez Sarsfield in Argentina.
The list of Argentine soccer players who returned to the country after triumphing in Europe is extensive, and one of the last names to join recently has been that of Marquitos. The versatile defender began his journey on the old continent with Spartak Moscow (2011), later playing for Sporting Lisboa (2012), and then establishing himself at Manchester United (2014) for six years. But beyond playing in the elite, Rojo's true dream was to play for Boca Juniors, and he did that in 2021.
While the new Colombian generation is already echoing in Europe, contemporary idols return home to bring joy to their own. Junior from Barranquilla made Bacca a professional footballer in 2009 and now in 2022 he welcomes him back with open arms. During all that time he became an idol at Sevilla FC, played for AC Milan, triumphed at Villarreal and closed modestly at Granada CF. Having three Europa League titles to his credit make him an important figure in the BetPlay Dimayor League.