Since Arsenal was founded we have seen many players become stars. Most of the historic players come from England and Scotland. It was until the 1990’s where we began to see a flow of more nationalities. Dutch, French, Danish, Swedish, German, even African internationals. However it wasn’t until the early 2000’s where we saw our first South Americans, their names, Edu and Gilberto Silva. The two Brazilians gave Arsenal the South American flavour, and were relatively successful players during their spells at the club. There are currently four South American players in the Arsenal squad – let’s get to know them better.
Born: Mar del Plata, Argentina. Age: 22. The 22-year-old has youth on his side, but also has minor experience. He has played for Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday, and of course Arsenal. Martinez began his career at Club Atletico Independiente from his home nation. He was signed by Arsenal in 2010, and joined up with the youth team initially. He made his senior debut in a League Cup match against Coventry City, eventually he went on to play in the insane 7-5 victory against Reading. The first half of the 2014-15 season was promising for the young Argentine as he played in the Premier League and also made his Champions League debut. Martinez kept three clean sheets in a row and was named in UEFA’s Team of the Week after defeating Borussia Dortmund 2-0.
Although never officially debuting with the Independiente, he was highly rated, and was chosen to play for Argentina’s U17 side in the South American Youth Championship in 2009. Martinez was called up to the senior squad in 2011 to replace injured Oscar Ustari but did not play. Since then he has not been called up.
Born: Medellin, Colombia. Age: 26. Ospina began his career being part of Atletico Nacional’s youth academy, he quickly became part of the senior squad in 2005, playing instantly. At age 19 he won the Colombian League with Nacional in 2007. After many bright games with Nacional, Ospina departed to France to play for Nice. He made over 180 appearances through his five years at the French club. After the 2014 World Cup, Ospina was sold to Arsenal. The Colombian keeper has so far appeared in two Premier League matches with the club and is yet to concede his first goal.
Ospina was called up for the under-20s Colombia national team being the youngest player to ever do so, aged 16. He was part of the under-20s squad for the 2005 Youth World Cup but did not play a single minute. David was quickly promoted to the senior squad in 2007 and debuted in a 3-1 loss to Uruguay. Colombian legends Faryd Mondragon and Miguel Calero both advised Ospina to move on from the loss and learn from it. In 2009 Ospina returned to the senior squad, this time for the World Cup Qualifiers. He debuted against Bolivia in Bogota, winning the game 2-0, this was Ospina’s first clean sheet with the senior squad. He was the star keeper of the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers only conceding thirteen goals and accomplishing seven clean sheets.
Born: Sao Paolo, Brazil. Age: 24. Despite failing trials at Gremio Barueri Futebol and Santos FC, Paulista funded part of two youth clubs: Clube Atletico Tabao da Serra and Vitoria. Following a year at Vitoria’s youth side, Paulista was promoted to the senior squad and became part of the starting team quickly. Gabriel made his official debut in 2010 against Camaraci winning 3-1. He was voted the best defender of the 2013 Brasileirao season and won the league with Vitoria. In the Summer of 2013, Paulista was signed by Spanish club Villareal. The Brazilian appeared in 37 fixtures with the club. He became a regular starter and had the second most interceptions with 66 in 2014/15 La Liga season, just one interception behind Aymeric Laporte. During the 2014/15 winter transfer window, Paulista was signed by Arsenal for a fee of around £11.3 million.
Born: Tocopilla, Chile. Age: 26. Sanchez is a youth product of Cobreloa and made his professional debut in 2005, just a month later he scored his first goal. Sanchez was purchased by Udinese for a £1.7 million fee on April 21st, 2006. Sanchez was bought very young, so Udinese decided to loan him out to South American clubs Colo-Colo and River Plate so he can mature. After successful seasons with the two clubs, Sanchez officially returned to Udinese in 2008. The biggest game for Sanchez was on February 2011, Sanchez scored four of seven goals as his team defeated Palermo 7–0, surprisingly just playing the first 52 minutes. Along with Antonio Di Natale, they together scored 39 goals and became one of the best scoring duos in Serie A. Just a few months later Barcelona agreed on £25 million fee. Pep Guardiola admitted to sign him for various of reasons: he can play in three different attacking positions, has incredible skill, and is a disciplined person. Sanchez debuted in the Spain Super Cup against Real Madrid in which Barcelona won 5-4 on aggregate, sadly Sanchez left the Super Cup injured. He later returned in two weeks time for the UEFA Super Cup, which Barcelona also won, defeating FC Porto 2-0. Sanchez scored his first goal in a 6-1 win against Elche, since that he went on a roll on the score sheet. The most memorable goal for Sanchez was against Real Madrid on October 26st, 2013, in which he scored the winning goal in a 2-1 win. After three amazing years at Barcelona, Sanchez was transferred to Arsenal for a fee of £35 million. Since his signing, Arsenal have been a much better attacking team and he has shined in the Premier League.
In 2006, Alexis Sanchez was called up the senior squad of Chile in 2006 for a friendly vs New Zealand. Since he was still under the age of twenty, he was called up by the U20 Chile squad for the 2007 Youth World Cup, Chile finished third. Alexis Sanchez has a total of 26 goals in 77 appearances for the senior national team. Sanchez scored two goals in the World Cup.