10 South American Stars We'd Love to See in the Premier League Next Season
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The English Premier League has long been touted as the most exciting in world soccer, boasting a wealth of stars from all over the world.
But the EPL has traditionally been light in imports from one notable bastion of footballing talent—South America.
With the global football trade growing every year, that is changing rapidly. And the old received wisdom that South Americans just can't thrive in the rough and tumble of the Premier League is being categorically debunked.
Chelsea just invested an estimated £22 million on Brazilian wunderkind Oscar, and Manchester City's title-winning season in 2011-12 owed a great deal to Argentinian Sergio Agüero, not to mention his countrymen Pablo Zabaleta and Carlos Tevez.
Here are 10 South American stars we'd love to see make the move to the Premier League in 2012.
1. Lionel Messi
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We can dream, right?
Obviously, no one is going to turn down the world's best player.
The likelihood of Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona is slim to none, but the Argentinian magician would be an unimaginable asset to any top team.
Plus, then we'd finally get an answer to the question, "But can he do it on a rainy night at Stoke?"
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There has been so much speculation about his future over the past few years that it's hard to believe that the Brazilian striker Neymar is still only 20.
Chelsea are among the clubs to have had offers for the Santos sensation rebuffed.
Neymar's fashion sense and cheeky persona would no doubt contribute as much to tabloid entertainment as his flamboyant skills would contribute on the pitch in the Premier League.
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Less flashy but, many would argue, potentially more effective than his Santos and Brazil teammate Neymar, Ganso is actively looking for a move this summer.
The 22-year-old playmaker has been linked with Manchester United, according to ESPN.com.
Ganso's skills as a classic No. 10 have often been credited with helping Neymar look so good. That kind of creativity, largely missing in the Man United team in 2011-12, could be crucial to regaining Premier League dominance over City in 2012-13.
4. Nelson Valdez
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During Paraguay's surprise run to the quarterfinals at World Cup 2010, one player particularly captured the imagination of the English press: Nelson Valdez.
Not only did the compact centre forward have a truly compelling backstory, he exhibited the traits fans of the Premier League hold dear—a hard-running, brave-hearted, never-say-die performance of endurance, physicality and passion.
Just to show he has craft as well as graft, Nelson scored two goals against Barcelona for Hercules, inflicting one of only two La Liga defeats on the champions in 2010-11.
At 28, Nelson has considerable experience that would ease his transition to the Premier League.
5. Mauro Caballero
At the other end of the spectrum from veteran Nelson Valdez is Paraguay's 17-year-old sensation Mauro Caballero.
The Libertad striker is rumoured to be on his way to Portuguese club Benfica. But Chelsea have also expressed interest, as the club invests heavily in rejuvenating their squad with such young, dynamic South American footballers as Oscar and Lucas Piazon.
6. Javier Pastore
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When modest Argentinian side Huracán narrowly missed out on the 2009 Clausura championship, playmaker Javier Pastore caught the attention of all Europe's biggest clubs.
Serie A side Palermo beat the likes of Manchester United to Pastore's signature and were rewarded with a fifth-place finish in part thanks to the performances of Italy's 2010 Young Footballer of the Year.
Now at star-studded Paris Saint-Germain, Pastore's elegance and vision would be a great addition to the Premier League.
Brazilian forward Hulk may deny holding talks with Chelsea, but it seems inevitable the 25-year-old Porto man will end up at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea will feel the loss of Didier Drogba's physical strength, and who better to add muscle to their front line than a striker dubbed Hulk?
Plus, it will give opposition fans the irresistible chance to take up the Man City supporters' chant of "You're not incredible."
8. Gonzalo Higuaín
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Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuaín found his form for Real Madrid in 2011-12, scoring 22 goals in their La Liga championship campaign.
Even more impressive, he managed that tally with only 18 starts in the league as he battled it out with Karim Benzema for a place in the Spanish giants' starting line-up.
The 24-year-old, who came through the ranks at River Plate before joining Real Madrid in 2006, could be guaranteed a place in virtually any Premier League side.
9. Radamel Falcao
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One player stood out above the rest in the all-Spanish 2012 Europa League final: Radamel Falcao, whose two goals helped emphatically seal victory for Atlético Madrid.
The Colombian striker had also scored the winning goal for Porto in the 2011 Europa League final before moving to Madrid to fill the considerable void left by Man City-bound Sergio Agüero.
City, Man United and Chelsea have all been linked with a move for Falcao in the 2012 summer transfer window.
10. Edinson Cavani
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One of the most sought-after signatures of the 2012 summer transfer window belongs to Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani.
His strength, agility and unerring eye for goal make Cavani a particularly enticing prospect for Chelsea as they look to replace Didier Drogba.
Cavani has thrived in Serie A with both Palermo and Napoli, and at 25 still looks to be improving. He would be an asset to any top Premier League side.