Pellistri move welcome: United have ignored South America for far too long

Manchester United swooped in to sign Facundo Pellistri on transfer deadline day from Penarol.

The move is a gamble, but one which United simply have to take.

For far too long, the entire continent of South America has gone largely ignored by United.

For a club who once had a feeder club in Brazil, it seems remarkable that this is United’s first move to sign a player directly from South America in seven years.

The last player signed was coincidentally another player from the same club, Penarol.

This was Guillermo Varela, who joined in 2013 and had a tricky time, going on to make his debut under Louis van Gaal before being sold.

Varela showed United in the Europa League quarter-finals he has gone on to forge a strong career with FC Copenhagen, and has also represented Uruguay at international level. United did not see the best of him.

Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Pool via Getty Images

United had success under Sir Alex Ferguson signing the Da Silva twins from Fluminense, with both featuring for the first team and playing a part in title success.

Rodrigo Possebon was another ‘what might have been’, if not for injury.

Extending this into North America, United signed Chicharito in 2010, hit the jackpot, and then have not returned since. It has been bizarre.

But just because some of these players are not unprecedented successes, does not mean United should stop trying, which seems to have happened in recent years.

Pellistri represents a return to the South American market for United.

Arsenal had some success here last season, signing Gabriel Martinelli for just £6 million.

Whether he goes onto become the player their fans believe he will be is uncertain, but its clear the Gunners have signed a very promising young player and boosted their squad for a bargain price.

His instant success helped deflate the myth that South American players can take a long time to settle in England.

Considering the inflated fees United get asked to pay for British talents – see Sean Longstaff at £50 million, looking abroad is far more sensible.

United did not sign a single player from an English club this summer, a shift in policy from the previous year.

There are restrictions which prevent United from signing non-EU players under 18, which can hamper the recruitment. Pellistri’s Spanish passport helped speed up the deal, with no work permit required – another obstacle.

Photo by Sandro Pereyra/Getty Images

More gems around

Pellistri is not the only talent United were linked to from South America over the summer.

TMW reported United were keen on Argentine talent Thiago Almada of Velez Sarsfield earlier this summer.

Just a fortnight ago, The Mirror reported United had sent scouts to watch Argentine teenager Alex Luna, who plays for Atletico Rafaela.

Luna is just 16 and may have to wait until 2022 to actually sign for United if the club are successful.

Nonetheless, it is good to see United dipping their toe into the South American market again.

It should not be another seven years before the next signing, and it should not be determined by the success,or lack of, from Pellistri, whatever his career ahead holds.

This is a whole continent packed with exciting talent, which United have overlooked for far too long. The more shots the club take, the better the chances of success.

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