South American players make their way over to Europe in their bucketloads each season. Some establish themselves in smaller leagues before moving on to bigger things, some find their level in these smaller leagues, while others are unable to make a success of it and return to their homeland, tail between legs, soon after.
This summer has seen the usual high quantity of South American imports. Here are eight to look out for in the coming season.
Maxi Moralez - Argentine - Velez Sarsfield to Atalanta - €5million
Moralez has already had one crack at Europe before - a brief unsuccessful spell at FC Moscow following his superb performances in the 2007 U-20 World Cup - but returns at the age of 24 a far more mature and fully rounded player, who has been a vital part of Velez Sarsfield's recent success. An attacking midfielder of pace and invention, Moralez joins an newly-promoted Atalanta side who will begin their Serie A campaign on -6 points due to their involvement in a match-fixing scandal. That same scandal has forced Atalanta's iconic midfielder Christian Doni into retirement and leaves Moralez with big boots to fill at his new home. If he can perform to his potential there is no reason Moralez can't become the Atalanta fans' new favourite.
Erik Lamela - Argentine - River Plate to AS Roma - €12million
River Plate may have been relegated for the first time in their professional history at the end of last season, but none of the blame can be sent Lamela's way. The 19-year old was left to single-handily drag his more experienced team-mates to victory and in a horribly defensive team with limited attacking colleagues to form partnerships with, he was unsurprisingly unable to do so. He must have felt a sense of deja vu at this summer's U-20 World Cup, as again the sole tactic of the team seemed to be 'give the ball to Lamela, he'll do something'. A superbly gifted left-footed attacking midfielder, Lamela has superb close control and is able to skilfully manipulate the ball away from opposition challenges to make an angle for a pass or shot in a way that is very reminiscent of Juan Roman Riquelme. His ability to play an incisive pass still needs to be worked on, but he strikes the ball very well and has a decent turn of pace to get away from defenders. He is unlikely to be a regular starter in his first season in Italian football, but given time he could easily develop into one of Europe's best attacking midfielders.
Diego Rubio - Chilean - Colo Colo to Sporting Lisbon - €1.5million
He may have made only eight first team appearances for Colo Colo, but that hasn't stopped the whole of Chile getting very excited about 18-year old striker Diego Rubio. The son of Hugo Rubio, in his day a Chilean international, Diego made an excellent start to his professional career, scoring three goals and even receiving a call up to national team coach Claudio Borghi's provisional squad for the 2011 Copa America. Rubio didn't make the final cut, but was given his international debut against Paraguay in the process, and remains in Borghi's plans going forward. It is hard to see him being a regular first teamer for Sporting Lisbon this season, but he will certainly be a good alternative to have on the bench if things aren't going their way.
Danilo - Brazilian - Santos to FC Porto - €13million
The latest in a long line of Brazilian attacking full-backs, 20-year old Danilo has had a highly impressive year, capped off by playing a part in Brazil's recent victory in the U-20 World Cup. In that tournament he also showed an ability to play in midfield, a versatility that is likely to serve him well in Europe. Right-footed with excellent speed and stamina, he has shown himself to be a more than capable full-back with an ability to get forward and score goals, as his current record of 9 in 60 appearances demonstrates. His best, and most important, came in the second-leg of the 2011 Copa Libertadores final - South America's Champions League - to put Santos 2-0 up. Charging forward from right-back, he cut inside a defender onto his left foot and curled a superb low shot past the goalkeeper into the far corner. Santos ended up winning 2-1 to win the competition and Danilo will stay at the club for their World Club Cup campaign later this year before moving to Portugal in January 2012.
Michael Ortega - Colombian - Atlas to Bayer Leverkusen - Loan
Colombia's recent run to the quarter finals of the U-20 World Cup was largely based on the abilities of three of their forward players, namely James Rodriguez, Luis Muriel and Michael Ortega. A 20-year old creative midfielder, Ortega was the only one of three not plying his trade in Europe prior to the competition, but that was soon rectified when German side Bayer Leverkusen picked him up on loan upon completion of the competition. A small, but stocky figure, Ortega is comfortable receiving the ball under pressure and has enough skill to extricate himself from most situations. A superb eye for a pass, as attested to by his four assists during the U-20 World Cup, suggests that a central position is likely to be his best in the long term, although he is fairly comfortable cutting in from wide areas currently. A generally disappointing spell at Mexican side Atlas belies his true talent and with the right coaching he promises to be a superb player.
Ricardo Alvarez - Argentine - Velez Sarsfield to Inter Milan - €11.75million
Ricardo Alvarez's is a strange case. Long linked with a move to Arsenal, it was Inter Milan who eventually secured his services, but it was the fee that was most striking. Just under €12million seems an awful lot for a 23-year old with under 50 first team appearances to his name. Anyone who checked him out on Youtube probably saw enough brilliance to warrant the fee; most who follow Argentine football more closely were slightly perplexed that Velez had been able to get so much for him. Not that there is any doubt that Alvarez is a promising, technically gifted player. The issue is that he wasn't even a regular starter at Velez and hadn't displayed the consistency of performance you would expect of such a highly valued player. Having said that, new Inter coach Gian Piero Gasparini appears taken with Alvarez's ability, so it will be interesting to see how he performs and develops at one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Miranda - Brazilian - Sao Paulo to Atletico Madrid - Free Transfer
Various clubs were chasing 26-year old central defender Miranda once it became clear he didn't intend to renew his contract with Sao Paulo, but it was Atletico Madrid who beat out other suitors such as AC Milan, Wolfsburg and Fiorentina for his services. A tall, calm and composed central defender, he was part of all three of Sao Paulo's consecutive Brazilian league title triumphs between 2006 & 2008, forming superb three-man defensive partnerships with the likes of Alex Silva, Breno, Andre Dias and Rodrigo. Most comfortable playing in a three-man backline, it will be interesting to see how it adapts to the likely four man defence Atletico coach Gregorio Manzano will operate with this season. If he can adapt then he is potentially a very competent defender.
Enzo Perez - Argentine - Estudiantes to Benfica - €5.5million
Comfortable playing on the right of midfield in a 4-4-2, or on the right of a midfield diamond, Enzo Perez is an energetic, pacey midfielder with a decent touch, who should fit perfectly into the Benfica midfield. Highly successful at Estudiantes, where he was part of the team that won the 2009 Copa Libertadores and the 2010 Apertura, at 25-years old this move to Europe comes at the perfect time for a player who is just beginning to enter the senior national team frame. With his former Estudiantes coach Alejandro Sabella recently appointed as national team coach, Perez is sure to be involved in the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, and will also hope to establish himself in the Benfica first team over the coming season.