Arsenal have a rich history when it comes to playing South American players, and according to reports, the Gunners are close to signing two more in the form of Gabriel Jesus and Raphinha.
The Premier League duo are reportedly close to signing for Arsenal, with Jesus seemingly a done deal and Raphinha in the final stages as the Gunners look to add to the likes of Gabriel Magalhaes and Gabriel Martinelli, with Sao Paulo teenager Marquinhos already being signed.
With Lucas Torreira also on Arsenal’s books and the club’s current technical director Edu Gaspar a former member of the team, the Gunners’ recent history is rich in South American tradition that only looks to grow stronger this summer.
With that in mind, what would Arsenal’s best South American XI look like given the club’s strong ties to the footballing continent, and which players, in particular, have left a key impact on the red side of north London.
David Luiz mans the defence with Emi Martinez in goal
South American goalkeepers have enjoyed a boom in recent seasons with Brazilians Ederson Moraes and Alisson Becker, and for Emi Martinez, the Argentine superstar owes his career to Arsenal after nearly a decade at the club.
The Aston Villa no. 1 was key to Arsenal’s 2020 FA Cup win following Bernd Leno’s end-of-season injury, winning Martinez a £20m move to the Midlands where the keeper has been sensational ever since, with the aforementioned Gabriel often playing ahead of the Argentine in defence.
Making up the rest of the back line, Highbury cult hero Sylvinho starts at left-back, sorry Andre Santos, with Gabriel Paulista and David Luiz making up the rest of the defence, with both Brazilians having mixed success with Arsenal during their brief spells with the Gunners.
Edu Gaspar and Gilberto Silva form solid Arsenal midfield
Arsenal’s Invincibles are still arguably the best Premier League side of all time, despite what Liverpool and Manchester City fans might say, and in Arsene Wenger’s legendary squad were two South Americans in Edu and Gilberto Silva.
Whilst the former was a squad player yet still played a big role for Arsenal during his time in London in his playing years, Gilberto is a bona fide legend amongst the north London faithful, with the midfielder forming an unbreakable pivot with Patrick Vieira in the Invincibles season.
Completing the midfield is a surprise pick to many in Lucas Torreira. The only Uruguayan to play for the Arsenal, it’s easy to forget just how electric the rottweiler dynamo was for the Gunners in his first year at the club, with the 25-year-old recently enjoying a brilliant season out on loan with ACF Fiorentina.
Alexis Sanchez and Gabriel Martinelli join Julio Baptista in attack
Attackers are the heroes to football fans in South America, and the case is no different for Arsenal supporters, with Alexis Sanchez potentially the best forward to play for the Premier League side in the Emirates Stadium era.
A masterclass £35m signing from Wenger, Sanchez was unplayable on his day in Arsenal red, and his move to Manchester United only highlighted just how good the Chilean was in the right team with the right system.
As for the remainder of the attack, Gabriel Martinelli starts on the left, with the Brazilian international arguably Arsenal’s most exciting talent on paper and a player who could one day be one of the best in the world, with madman Julio Baptista rounding off the attack.
The Brazilian striker famously scored four goals against Liverpool in a 6-3 League Cup win, with Baptista also infamously bagging a brace and then an own goal against Tottenham, an unofficial hat-trick if we can call it that.