To evaluate this, Remiqz takes a closer look at roughly 1900 of transfers made by South American players to Europe since July 2007. The first conclusion is that the South American player market has become more and more popular over the years. In the first full year of our dataset (2008) a total of 159 players crossed the Atlantic. In 2017, the number of transfers was 207, a hefty 30% increase on only ten years.
If we look at the average GPI development of every player in the first year after his transfer, we conclude that South American players are able to increase their GPI by 449 on average. However, with a standard deviation of 753, there is a large difference between the success and failure of South American players in Europe.
In contrary to popular belief, it is not the case that European clubs try to pick up South American players at a younger age than in the past. The age of a player at the time of his transfer has remained constant at an average of 24. If we look at the GPI development of players in their first year after the transfer, we see a quadratic relationship between age and performance. On average, teenagers tend to struggle more in their first year in Europe than players in their early twenties, whereas players who make a move later in their career (after the age of 26) are generally not able to continue to develop.
The most popular route to Europe lies between Brazil and Portugal (260 transfers, 14%), followed by players moving from Argentina to Spain (138 transfers, 7%), from Argentina to Italy (117 transfers, 6%) and from Brazil to Italy (105 transfers, 6%). Of all routes with at least ten transfers, the most successful lies between Chili and Italy, where seventeen transferred players have an average GPI development of +947. By the same logic, a transfer from Argentina to Greece is not recommended, since the average GPI development of 39 players is negative (-40).