South American Influence - Wigan Athletic
As we said goodbye to a memorable 2011/12 season on Sunday, I caught up with the BBC's South American Football expert, the Legendinho, Tim Vickery on Friday evening, and discussed his thoughts on the current South American contingent at the DW Stadium.
Franco Di Santo
In his second full season at the DW Stadium, since arriving from Chelsea back in the summer of 2010, the Argentinean has improved greatly.
Having started out at Audax Italiano in the Chilean Primera Division, he made a real impression, and Tim expressed his disappointment, at his decision to move to Chelsea: 'I was disappointed when he joined Chelsea, he'd been playing so well for Audax, scoring goals not only in the league but in the Copa Libertadores (the continent's equivalent of the Champions League). It was the wrong move at the wrong time.'
Having bagged 7 times this season including crucial strikes against Arsenal and Newcastle, the number 9 has won the adoration of fans, and is set for a big future at the club.
Tim pointed out that Di Santo will gain confidence from this season and will go from strength to strength: 'He's a versatile striker, who can play anyone along the front line, and we`ve seen over the last few months what he can do, given a run of games.'
With reported interest from Stoke City and considering his ill-advised move to Chelsea, perhaps think twice ahead of any move away from Wigan, as the club will play a huge part in his all round development.
The key for Di Santo is goals, as is the case with any forward, if he can get into double figures for the first time in a Wigan shirt next season, it will go a long way to improving his game and crucially the Latics as a club.
Having been relegated with Birmingham City at the end of last season, his January arrival was met with some scepticism by fans.
Against the odds his arrival sparked a revival in the Latics form, and he has played a huge part in the club winning seven of their last nine games.
Tim talked up the versatility that the Chilean international offers to the Latics: 'To any team, he offers so much versatility; he can play in a number of positions even left wing back. His club career has floundered unlike his international form which secured his move to England, following the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, where his side impressed at times.'
His flexibility and work rate allowed for manager Roberto Martinez to implement a complete change of formation, in order to fight against relegation. It was seen as a bold move and a gamble in hindsight, that has certainly paid off, and Tim expressed his delight at the success that Beausejour has had at the Latics: 'I am delighted that he has come off at Wigan, he is sure to play a huge part for the club next season.'
The Paraguayan international has formed a reliable and solid partnership with captain Gary Caldwell during the run in.
He has chipped in with goals also from set pieces, with the crucial opener against Stoke City back in March, and his late winner at Blackburn will live long in the memory.
Having played his entire career in Europe notably with Beira Mar in Portugal and Club Brugge of Belgium, he has settled into life in the English top flight quicker than most South American's.
Tim spoke of Alcaraz's ability to lead the backline: 'He was unheard of in Paraguay when he won his first cap, since then he has flourished paying at the World Cup and he scored a memorable goal against, the then, World Champions Italy.
'He came into the squad to add height, he does perhaps lack the class of a true quality centre half, but he has done very well to settle in, in England and is reliable.'
For Alcaraz he like many at the club will fast forward through the first half the end of season DVD, but will take serious encouragement from his form in the back end of the campaign.
He is likely to link up with Caldwell once again come August but will expect some serious competition, as the Latics will go out to add defensive cover, in the transfer market.
Niall Joseph Owens
To read more from Niall visit laticsinanutshell.blogspot.co.uk
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