Argentina is major source of players for South American leagues, as Brazilians go global

January 14 – An analysis of the four leading leagues in South America – Brazil’s Serie A, Argentina’s Superliga, the Chilean Primera División and the Mexican Liga MX – has thrown up a number of differences, most interestingly in the movement and development of playing talent.

The CIES Football Observatory report highlights the number of expatriates playing in Liga MX (in football’s hierarchy Mexico is part of North rather than South America). More than 50% of minutes played in Mexico’s top league are played by expatriates. This compares to just 10% in Brazil with Chile and Argentina described as “somewhere in the middle”.

“The ten clubs where expatriate footballers played the most minutes are Mexican, with a maximum value of 65% for Club Tijuana,” says the report. “The highest figure for a non-Mexican team was recorded for Curicó Unido (48.1%). In contrast, many Brazilian and Argentinian teams are among those where expatriates are less numerous. Two of them, Arsenal de Sarandì and Cearà SC, did not field any.”

When it comes to providing players across the continent, the report finds Argentina as the most significant provider of players for the leagues analysed.

“With 138 nationals, Argentina is by far the most represented origin among the expatriates in the leagues analysed. Argentinians are particularly numerous in Mexico and Chile. They are also the primary source of foreign labour in Brazil. In total, they account for almost one-third of expatriates. Three other countries have substantial expatriate contingents: Colombia, Uruguay and Paraguay. On the contrary, only eight Brazilians are expatriated in the leagues studied (all are in Mexico),” says the report.

However, that picture changes when you look beyond South America and Mexico with Brazil described as “a global source of labour par excellence… just playing a few matches can open the doors towards a transfer abroad, even though not in the most prestigious football countries.”

See the full report at

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