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Ranking the Top 10 South Americans to Play for Manchester United

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentJanuary 15, 2017

Ranking the Top 10 South Americans to Play for Manchester United

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Manchester United have signed some exceptional foreign players throughout their history, but South America has never been that happy a hunting ground.

    United have signed 12 players from South America since Argentinian midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron became the first when he arrived at Old Trafford in 2001.

    Some, like Gabriel Heinze and Carlos Tevez, became fans' favourites before signing—or, in the case of Heinze, trying to sign—for United's fiercest rivals.

    Players like Diego Forlan struggled in the Premier League but went on to forge successful careers elsewhere.

    Others weren't so lucky and flopped.

    United currently have four South Americans on their books. Brazilian full-back Rafael and Ecuadorian winger Antonio Valencia are part of David Moyes' first-team squad.

    Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez and Uruguay defender Guillermo Varela have yet to make a first-team appearance and are the two South Americans who don't make United's top 10.

    Feel free to use the comments section below add your own top 10.

     

10. Rodrigo Possebon

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    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    Rodrigo Possebon qualified for an Italian passport through his father but was born in Brazil.

    He joined United as an 18-year-old from Internacional in January 2008.

    The midfielder was billed as a future star but only went on to make eight appearances, including three in the Premier League.

    He was loaned to Braga for the 2009-10 season but returned four months early after failing to break into the first team.

    In the summer of 2010, he was allowed to return to Brazil with Santos. Still only 25 years old, he was last seen playing in Brazil's second tier.

9. Kleberson

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Kleberson arrived at United in 2003 having helped Brazil win the World Cup a year earlier.

    There were high hopes for the midfielder, signed for £6.5 million from Atletico Paranaense, but he suffered an injury-plagued two years at Old Trafford and only made 20 Premier League appearances.

    He was sold to Turkish side Besiktas for £1.5 million in 2005 and eventually returned to Brazil with Flamengo in 2007.

    He made his final appearance for Brazil in 2010, the last of his 32 caps.

     

8. Fabio Da Silva

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Fabio Da Silva is in danger of simply being remembered as Rafael's brother.

    The twins signed for United from Brazilian side Fluminense in 2008, but only Rafael was able to establish himself in the first team.

    Fabio came close and made 56 appearances, including starting the 2011 Champions League Final against Barcelona at Wembley.

    But in the summer of 2012 he was loaned to QPR, who were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the season.

    And after failing to impress new manager David Moyes, the 23-year-old was sold to Cardiff City in January. 

7. Anderson

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    After only a handful of games for Porto, United paid nearly £20 million for Brazilian midfielder Anderson in the summer of 2007.

    He scored from the spot as United beat Chelsea on penalties in the 2008 Champions League Final, but that was the highlight of his six-and-a-half years at Old Trafford.

    He wasn't helped by a succession of injuries, and David Moyes agreed to let the 25-year-old leave for Fiorentina in January.

    He left with four Premier League winners' medals after making 179 first-team appearances.

6. Diego Forlan

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Under normal circumstances, Diego Forlan's United career would be considered a disaster.

    But 10 years after his departure, the supporters still sing his name.

    And it's all thanks to one Sunday afternoon in December, 2002.

    The Uruguayan striker's two goals against Liverpool at Anfield—enough to secure a 2-1 win—earned him the continuing adulation of the fans.

    He scored 17 goals in 98 games during two-and-a-half years at Old Trafford before leaving for Villarreal.

    Despite disappointing in England, he was a success in La Liga with both Villarreal and Atletico Madrid before an ill-fated spell with Inter in Serie A.

    He signed for Japanese side Cerezo Osaka in January.

     

     

5. Antonio Valencia

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    Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press

    Ecuadorian winger Antonio Valencia had the unenviable task of filling Cristiano Ronaldo's boots when he signed from Wigan Athletic in 2009.

    Ronaldo left for Real Madrid in a world-record transfer the same summer Valencia arrived.

    Valencia won the club's Player of the Year award in 2012 but has since suffered a dip in form.

    He briefly took the iconic No. 7 shirt, previously worn by Ronaldo, but decided to hand it back at the start of this season in favour of his old No. 25.

    He's won two Premier League titles at Old Trafford and has 68 international caps.

4. Rafael Da Silva

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Brazilian full-back Rafael Da Silva signed for United from Fluminense in 2008 with twin brother Fabio.

    While Fabio struggled to force his way into the first team and ultimately had to leave, Rafael has established himself as the first-choice right-back.

    Still only 23 years old, he was one of the best right-backs in the Premier League last season.

    He's won three Premier League titles and has been capped twice by Brazil since making his international debut in 2012.

3. Gabriel Heinze

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Gabriel Heinze would likely still be a favourite among United fans had he not tried to force a move to Liverpool in the summer of 2007.

    The Argentinian defender arrived at Old Trafford from Paris Saint-Germain for nearly £7 million in 2004.

    He was Sir Alex Ferguson's first-choice left-back for two seasons before losing his place to Patrice Evra.

    After Ferguson blocked his move to Anfield, he was eventually allowed to join Real Madrid in 2007.

    Following spells in France with Marseilles and in Italy with Roma, the 35-year-old returned to Argentina with Newell's Old Boys in 2012.

2. Juan Sebastian Veron

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    On talent alone, Argentinian midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron was one of the best players to ever represent United.

    He became the club's record buy when he joined from Lazio for £28.1 million in 2001, becoming the first South American to play for United.

    He helped win the Premier League title in 2003, but his two years at Old Trafford are generally considered a disappointment.

    He made 82 appearances for United before joining Chelsea for a cut-price £15 million as Roman Abramovich began to flex his financial muscle. 

    He won the last of his 73 caps for Argentina in 2010.

1. Carlos Tevez

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    Based purely on what he achieved, Carlos Tevez is the greatest South American to play for United.

    But his legacy is tainted because he joined Manchester City when he left.

    The Argentinian striker won the Premier League title in both his seasons at Old Trafford as well as the 2008 Champions League. He scored a penalty in the shoot-out win over Chelsea.

    He also won the League Cup in 2009 and played in the 2009 Champions League Final defeat to Barcelona in Rome.

    He scored 34 goals in 99 games after arriving from West Ham United in 2007.

    But all of that was forgotten when he agreed to move to the Etihad Stadium in 2009.

    After four seasons at City, he was sold to Juventus last summer.

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