For such a small country, very few nations can boast a footballing pedigree to match Uruguay. With a population of just 3.5million, the South American country has won the World Cup twice and consistently produces superstars of the game. A few of these bonafide stars have landed in the Premier League, with 22 Uruguayans having made an appearance in the English top-flight over the past 30 years, with Edinson Cavani the latest to join the gang. Though he’s one of the most decorated players in world football, it’s too early to rank him as one of the best Uruguayans in England, so who have been the finest players from Uruguay to appear in the Premier League?
5 best players from Uruguay in Premier League history
5. Gastón Ramírez (Southampton)
The attacking midfielder from Fray Bentos spent four years on the south coast of England when he moved to Southampton from Bologna for £12m in 2012. He was an immediate hit at St. Marys, making 26 appearances and scoring five goals and adding three assists in his first season. In his second campaign he added a further goal and another three assists in 18 appearances but then found himself in the wilderness and was sent on loan spells to Hull and Middlesbrough, the latter he eventually joined.
He only stayed on Teeside for a season before moving back to the sunnier streets of Sampdoria. He left English football with 94 appearances, nine goals and 12 assists. A decent return and enough to earn him the fifth spot on our list of the five best Uruguay stars in Premier League history.
4. Lucas Torreira (Arsenal)
Lucas Torreira was one of Uruguay’s brightest stars at the 2018 World Cup, so it was no surprise that Arsenal signed the dogged midfielder from Sampdoria shortly after the tournament finished. The midfielder’s ability to run at defenders and force open defences with just one pass had many Premier League defenders struggling to cope with is dynamic style throughout the 2018/19 season.
The 2019/20 season was less successful for Torreira who struggled to replicate the same form as The Gunners cycled through 3 different managers however a FA Cup triumph against Liverpool earned him his first piece of silverware as a professional. Torreira has since moved to Atletico Madrid in an attempt to kickstart his career and find the same form he showed when he first moved to The Emirates.
3. Diego Forlan (Manchester United)
Many Manchester United fans were left thinking what could’ve been in the case of Diego Forlan when the Uruguayan superstar retired in 2018 knowing they let him slip through their grasp. Forlan moved to Old Trafford in 2001 as a highly-touted prospect from Argentine side Independiente. Unfortunately, the explosive striker struggled to reach his full potential under Sir Alex Ferguson. Injuries constantly hindered his momentum and development in the Premier League despite brief flashes of potential.
His best return for United would be in the 2002/03 season where he scored 6 goals in 25 games although he can still boast having a Premier League and FA Cup winners medal to his trophy cabinet. He would join Spanish side Villareal at the start of the 2004/05 season which proved to be the catalyst needed for Forlan to thrive and become the superstar many expected him to be. A real missed opportunity for The Red Devils.
2. Gus Poyet (Chelsea, Spurs)
For many years, Gustavo “Gus” Poyet was by far the most recognizable Uruguay star in the Premier League. The energetic midfielder shone for both Chelsea and Spurs over a 7-year stretch from 1997-2004, becoming a regular for two of London’s best sides. Known primarily for his mazy runs and dangerous crosses, Poyet was a handful for defenders to deal with and wasn’t shy of bagging a few goals either. His best return was 18 goals in the 1999/2000 season for Chelsea where The Blues would win that season’s FA Cup under player-coach Gianluca Vialli.
After his career ended with Spurs, Poyet switched to management where he returned to the top flight as manager of Sunderland before getting sacked in 2015. Despite moving to manage overseas, Poyet’s love affair with English football continued through his son Diego who played for both West Ham and Charlton to much less success.
1. Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Undoubtedly one of the best attackers of this generation, no one quite expected Luis Suarez to be as good as he was when he joined Liverpool from Ajax in 2011. There was barely a weakness in Suarez’s game as he had pace, trickery, power and finesse all in a finely balanced package that destroyed teams instantaneously. In just 3 years at Anfield, Suarez scored 69 goals in 110 games with the best return of 31 goals in 33 games during the 2013/14 season.
This incredible form saw him win the Premier League Golden Boot and Player of the Season award whilst Liverpool fans voted him as their Player of the Year twice in his 3-year stint at the club. Whilst some disciplinary issues literally took a bite (ask Branislav Ivanovic!) out of his short stay in England, it didn’t stop Barcelona signing him in 2014 where he continued to destroy teams across Europe. One of the best strikers to play in England over the past decade and absolutely undisputed as the greatest player from Uruguay to grace the Premier League.