5 Best Argentina Internationals to Play in England
While Argentina-born players have been travelling across the globe for decades in order to further their football careers, England has not been a traditional destination. Due to cultural and historical similarities, Spain and Italy have always been the first choices for those coming from Buenos Aires and beyond.
But things are changing. After the first pioneers broke into the old First Division back in the late 1970s, numbers steadily began to increase. Now, the Premier League is packed with Argentine talent; and the competition is an increasingly attractive option for stars from the South American nation.
In honour of the latest recruit, British transfer record arrival Angel Di Maria, here are five Argentine stars who have left the biggest mark on English football over the years.
5. Ricardo Villa
Ex-Racing Club star Ricardo Villa was a pioneer of Argentine travellers when the bearded midfielder, alongside compatriot Osvaldo Ardiles, appeared in the Tottenham first-team after starring in the 1978 World Cup final. Diligent rather than explosive for Spurs, Villa did manage to write himself into the club's history books.
A virtuoso goal in the 1981 FA Cup final brought silverware back to White Hart Lane, ensuring Ricky's status as a Tottenham hero. Alongside Ardiles, Villa was inducted into the club's hall of fame and left an indelible mark on English football in his five years of First Division play.
4. Carlos Tevez
In his seven years of English football, Carlos Tevez achieved more than most do in their entire careers. There were trophies, dramatic relegation battles, personal glories and, of course, no shortage of controversy and fall-outs, par for the course for the hot-headed former Boca Juniors kid.
After going down in West Ham history as the man who saved them from the drop on the last day of the 2006-07 season, Tevez's goal against Manchester United earned him a move to that illustrious club. Two Premier Leagues and a Champions League followed, before Carlitos did the unthinkable; he crossed the city divide to join the blue half of town.
A first league crown in 48 years was Manchester City's reward for taking a gamble on their rivals' big star, but Tevez's time at the Etihad was marred in the end by a bitter fall-out with coach Roberto Mancini. Now at Juventus, Tevez's whirlwind spell in England definitely, for good and bad, left its mark.
3. Javier Mascherano
El Jefecito, Javier Mascherano was a relative unknown when he first arrived in English football. At just 22-years-old, the ex-River Plate and Corinthians midfielder had fans scratching their heads a little when he landed at West Ham United in 2006.
Masche's time at Upton Park is perhaps best remembered for the controversy over his ownership, which earned the Hammers a massive fine. But it was with Liverpool that the combative midfielder really made his mark in English football.
In his very first season, the Argentine helped his new club to the Champions League final, and he represented the Reds with distinction for three further seasons. A move to Barcelona was too good to turn down, but Liverpool fans remember their little general fondly.
2. Sergio Aguero
The wonderfully talented Sergio Aguero could have gone almost anywhere in the world in 2011, when his performances for Atletico Madrid helped the Colchoneros out of a long decline and to win the Europa League. But it was Manchester City who eventually won the player's heart, and the deal looks to have been an extremely shrewd piece of business.
Just as he helped to revitalise an ailing Atletico, El Kun's arrival at the Etihad Stadium coincided with City's most successful spell for the last 40 years. A brilliant 77 goals in 124 appearances for the club show just how effective he has been.
Since Aguero joined their ranks, the Citizens have lifted two league titles; the first breaking a 44 year wait for the side's loyal fans. With two Premier League crowns in the last three years, it seems clear that the ex-Independiente wonderkid will go down as one of the greatest players ever to pull on the City shirt.
1. Osvaldo Ardiles
In the modern game, the Premier League has established itself as one of the top destinations for foreign football talent. Back in 1978 when a young Huracan midfielder named Osvaldo Ardiles was weighing up his options, however, the English game was far more parochial and closed off to outside influences.
Ardiles, perhaps more than anybody, helped to change that perception. The 1978 World Cup winner with Argentina represented Tottenham for four excellent seasons, winning the FA Cup in 1981 and establishing himself as a fans' favourite for years to come.
Ossie, as he is affectionately known, even came back to the club in the 1990s as manager for a short but notorious spell. A team containing the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann, Ilie Dumitrescu, Nick Barmby and Darren Anderton was famous for its non-stop attacking ethos, but results did not follow and Ardiles was eventually shown the door.
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