Everton’s signing of James Rodriguez has lit up the football world with the superstar Colombian football player becoming one Goodison Park’s biggest arrivals in years. After a positive opening performance, Everton fans are hopeful that the Colombian can make a big impact on the Premier League like some of his countrymen before him, with Rodriguez becoming the 19th player from the South American nation to feature in England’s top flight. So who are the best Colombian footballers to grace the Premier League? And who are the worst?
Best Colombian footballers in Premier League history
With a name like an upmarket perfume, many people may not remember Hamilton Ricard’s 4-year spell in England. Spending the entirety of his time with Middlesbrough, Ricard proved himself to be perfectly at home at the top level with excellent finishing and quick pace.
He was a force to be reckoned with in the 1998/99 season, scoring 15 goals in 36 games and followed it up with a further 12 the season after. From there his form faded and he eventually left Teeside for CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria in 2001, scoring 33 goals in 115 appearances.
Ricard’s career would travel around the world several times for the following decade but nothing would ever match the form he showed for Boro’ in the late 90s becoming a cult hero to those at The Riverside and certainly is among the best Colombian footballers seen in England.
With his powerful frame and long dreadlocks, Hugo Rodallega was an unmistakeable presence on the pitch during his spell with Wigan. Rodallega had an ability to score spectacular goals and became a regular lifeline for Wigan to help them in their regular relegation battles.
A powerful force in the air and not lacking in pace, the striker was able to find the net from close range or long distance. A best return of 10 goals in the 2009/10 season may not seem like much but his consistent goals made him a valuable asset at The DW Stadium. A move to Fulham didn’t quite bring about the same success when he joined in 2012 and Rodallega left England for Turkey where he has enjoyed a second wind in the Super Lig for the likes of Trabzonspor and Denizlispor.
A lot was expected of Davinson Sanchez when the defender joined Spurs from Ajax in 2017 for a club record £42m but he hasn’t disappointed since making the move across. A powerful force in the penalty area, Sanchez has often dealt with the very best strikers in England & Europe without breaking a sweat.
Posing a real threat in the air too, Sanchez occasionally proves to be a menace at set-pieces as well as clearing crosses in his own area. Having forced his way into the regular starting line-up, Sanchez is certainly one of the stars that Spurs will hope to hold on to for the next few years as they continue to chase that elusive trophy.
Juan Pablo Angel
Not many would dispute Juan Pablo Angel’s status at the top of the best Colombian footballers to grace the Premier League and he was also probably the most successful.
Juan Pablo Angel was Aston Vill’s talisman for much of the early to mid 2000s. Having a good record for River Plate, Angel moved to Villa Park for a record £9.5 in 2001. Once Angel adapted to life in England, he became a livewire in the final third mixing strength, pace and an eye for goal time after time for The Villans.
A best return of 16 goals in the 2003/04 season highlighted Angel’s potential, although persistent injury issues ultimately prevented him from challenging for the Golden Boot. After seven seasons in England, Angel left Villa Park for New York Red Bulls in the USA where he enjoyed more success. With 44 goals in 175 matches, Angel is Villa’s third highest goalscorer (behind Dwight Yorke and Gabriel Agbonlahor) in the Premier League era, highlighting just how much of an impact he had in the Premier League.
And four of the worst…
Whilst Viafara had a successful stint with Southampton in the Championship, it was certainly not a happy time down the M27 for arch-rivals Portsmouth. Joining from Colombian Primera A side Once Caldas in 2005, Viafara started off at Fratton Park in average form and soon fell out of favour when Harry Redknapp took over from Alain Perrin.
A lack of discipline saw Viafara receive 2 red cards in subsequent matches before being sent on loan to Real Sociedad in Spain. When Sociedad turned down the chance to sign the winger, he was subsequently shipped off to Southampton ending his lacklustre Premier League adventure.
Victor Ibarbo seemed like he needed a new start when he joined Watford on loan from Serie A side Cagliari but it turned out to be the start of a nightmare for the winger. Issues with his work permit delayed his eventual debut at Vicarage Road where he then delivered average performances in his first 4 games.
Further issues during training failed to impress manager Quique Sanchez Flores, who eventually demoted Ibarbo to training with the reserves. He returned to Italy having just made 4 appearances and 0 goals for The Hornets before eventually heading to Japan’s J-League via Greece. Not one for the record books and certainly one of the worst Colombian footballers to play in England.
Chelsea fans will recoil in horror at the name. Juan Cuadrado’s career should really be broken down into two parts, his time in Italy and his time in England. The Italian portion can be considered a raving success but his time in the Premier League with Chelsea was anything but.
Having impressed many big clubs in Europe, Cuadrado moved to Stamford Bridge from Fiorentina (with a certain Mo Salah going in the other direction) for £26m in 2015, expecting to showcase the attacking flair he had been known for.
However, what The Blues got was a shadow of Cuadrado’s former self. The Colombian football player never settled in England and it impacted his form, as he often failed to shine in the fleeting appearances given to him by Jose Mourinho. Unhappy with life in London, the midfielder moved back to Italy with Juventus – initially on loan- but the move was made permanent in 2017 where he has shone ever since. A missed opportunity for all involved.
At the start of the 2010s, Falcao was one of the deadliest strikers in the world with Europe best clubs battling for his services. As Monaco’s cash reserves ran dry, Falcao secured a loan move to Manchester United, where many were hoping he could be the superstar they needed to challenge for the title. Instead, they got a player who seemed very much out of his depth with his power neutralized by the league’s more physical nature.
These issues saw Falcao score just 4 goals in 26 appearances with fans turning on him. Falcao returned to Monaco before returning to the Premier League by joining Chelsea on loan where he once again struggled for form, scoring just once in 10 games. Injuries would then prevent him from making any more appearances closing the door firmly shut on his Premier League career.
Falcao has found some form again for Monaco and now Galatasaray in Turkey but his dreams of joining the world’s elite were killed off thanks to his time in the English Premier League. One of the best Colombian footballers in history was one of the worst in the Premier League.
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