January Transfers: 10 South American Stars Ready to Take Europe by Storm
South America is one of the hottest breeding grounds for footballing talent at the moment, and with the January transfer window now open, expect to see a number of the continent's best players pursued by top clubs right around the world.
The likes of Neymar and Radamel Falcao immediately spring to mind, but South America is host to a plethora of other excellent options this winter—some of which might be as well-known and obvious as the likes of Neymar and Falcao.
Here's 10 South American stars who, if given the chance over the transfer window, could take Europe by storm this season.
Lucas Moura, Paris St. Germain
We kick this list off with an obvious selection, Lucas Moura, who is about to begin his debut match with Paris St. Germain after transferring at the start of the new year, which is now.
The talented midfielder has incredible on-ball skills and a huge drive going forward, which, coupled with the brilliance of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, could work wonders for the French club—especially in their quest for Champions League glory this season.
Wellington Nem, Fluminense
Wellington Nem was instrumental in Fluminense's title success this season and will no doubt be looking to improve on his form again in 2013—perhaps even looking for a transfer towards Europe.
The 20-year-old is an important part of the Brazilian national team and can no doubt be key for the Champions League and title chances of a number of top clubs in Europe if afforded the opportunity.
Claudio Yacob, West Bromwich Albion
One man already plying his trade in Europe is Claudio Yacob, the central midfielder for West Bromwich Albion, who have had an incredible start to the Premier League campaign this season.
Yacob's currently absence from the side due to injury is noticeable, with the midfielder certainly capable of pulling the strings in both attack and defense for the Baggies. Should he continue to keep up the strong performances, expect the top clubs of Europe to come knocking for Yacob.
Porto's central midfielder, Fernando, enjoyed a strong season last year and will be looking to really step up his game in the final 16 of the Champions League for the Portuguese club in 2013.
Fernando has averaged an incredible 95 percent completion rate on his passes for the tournament—a team-high number—and has solid defensive numbers also.
Playing alongside the likes of Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez will mean that he doesn't get the coverage of other players, but Fernando has definitely been just as important in 2012 and will be just as important in 2013 as any other player for Porto.
Roberto Firmino, Hoffenheim
The 21-year-old Hoffenheim star has been posting up some remarkable numbers this season in Germany and could well be set for a move to a bigger club in 2013 if they come knocking for the Brazilian.
Playing for a poor team, Firmino is second in both goals and assists on the year to date and has strong defensive numbers to match his attacking strengths also.
His ability to waltz his way past defenders—leading the team in successful dribbles per game—has become an integral part of Hoffenheim's attack and can be also for Europe's top teams in 2013 if they desired.
Juan Quintero, Pescara
Quintero spent much of 2012 trying to make things happen in front of goal for Pescara—taking nearly more than double the shots of his teammates—but only has one goal and two assists to show for his efforts. However, when you look at that in light of the one goal and no assists that striker Ante Vukusic has, suddenly, those numbers aren't that bad after all.
Quintero is a strong player on the ball and one who can create goal-scoring opportunities—noted through his shots per game, as well as his team high key-passes per game.
The Colombian international isn't on a great team this year, but has continued to impress anyways, and could be an interesting name to watch over the transfer window for Europe's best teams this year.
Bruno Bertucci, FK Neftchi
Playing in the Europa League this year for FK Neftchi, Bertucci has had the advantage over a number of players here in being right there in front of Europe's top teams and scouts. And if they've been watching the left defender so far, they'd be very impressed with that they've seen.
The categories in which Bertucci leads the club in are phenomenal—average match rating, shots per game (he's a defender, keep in mind), tackles and interceptions, successful dribbles per game—all of which combine to present one complete and talented footballer.
I can't see the Azerbaijan-based club chalking up too big of a transfer fee for Bertucci, so he's definitely an interesting transfer prospect to watch out for in Europe in 2013.
Leandro Damiao, Internacional
No list here would be complete without mentioning Leandro Damiao, who continually gets linked with a move to Europe's top teams every transfer window. Surely, it can't be long before he leaves Internacional for a bigger club than what the Brazilian international currently is at?
Damiao scored seven goals this season for the club and was once again their best attacking weapon going forward, but also proved at the 2012 London Olympics that he is a player to be watching for the future—particularly in the Brazilian national team.
The 23-year-old has incredible finishing skills and an ability to capitalize on mistakes—characteristics which will surely bode well for any potential suitors in 2013.
Franco Di Santo, Wigan Athletic
Franco Di Santo is having a strong year for Wigan despite the lack of talent existent on this team and could well be set for a transfer at some point in 2013 because of it.
The striker just beat out Carlos Tevez for a spot in the Argentinian national team, so they obviously think he's valuable, and should Wigan be relegated, the likes of Di Santo, along with some of his Latics teammates, could be up for a move over the summer transfer window.
And what team doesn't love a cheap transfer for a good player?
There is little doubting the importance of Hernanes to Lazio this season—finishing 2012 with the club's highest average match rating and an incredible season to match.
The 27-year-old won six Man of the Match awards from 15 appearances, netting seven goals and three assists on a team-high 2.9 shots per game. He also averages 2.2 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per game and is second on total passes per match.
His ability to bring others into the game is a hallmark of his style, leading the club in goal-scoring opportunities created per game, and has been fundamental to Lazio's strong play in Serie A this year.
Juvenuts are running away with the title, but Hernanes could well be set for some European action in 2013, like he has had with the Europa League this season.
Which South American stars are you watching out for?
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All statistics courtesy of WhoScored