It’s been a great summer for Miguel Layún. After winning CONCACAF’S Gold Cup with Mexico, the utility man began his Premier League career in style by scoring on the opening day of the season against Everton. It was his first goal for newly promoted Watford and after the match, Manchester United’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernández congratulated his Mexican teammate on Twitter.
Meanwhile, for Liverpool, Brazil’s Philippe Coutinho scored the goal of the weekend and Ecuador’s Jefferson Montero caused havoc against Chelsea. The Swansea winger was twisting and turning, making Branislav Ivanović look more like an amateur than one of the best defenders in the game.
For Latin American players in the EPL, these are good times. In the 2015-2016 season, there are currently 47 first-team players from the Americas, including Costa Rica, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Ecuador.
Here’s my ideal XI. Before you start hating on my picks, remember: the point of this team is to create an eclectic selection, so that there’s a wide range of talent, experience, and nationalities. Otherwise, where’s all the fun?
Sergio Romero (Argentina and Manchester United)
The 28-year-old goalkeeper, with 62 international appearances for Argentina, had a fantastic game against Tottenham, and even if David de Gea stays and doesn’t leave for Real Madrid, he will be a challenger for the number one jersey.
Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina and Manchester City)
The seasoned right-back has been playing for MCFC since 2008 and is one of the best defenders in the League. An attack-minded player, Zabaleta loves to go forward with a willingness to provide support to his forward line.
Juan Carlos Paredes (Ecuador and Watford)
The speedy Paredes began his career as a winger, but transitioned to full-back with Guayaquil side, Barcelona. It was then that he was picked for the national team as a starter. This is a big season for Paredes and Watford, as the club looks to do well enough to stay in the League.
Sebastian Coates (Uruguay and Sunderland)
The 24-year-old center-back rejoined Sunderland this summer after a loan spell with the club last season. Despite his age, Coates plays as if he has been around for two decades, and has featured for Uruguay since 2011. As long as he remains healthy, he will be a great addition to a team that needs a lot of help at the back.
Fabricio Coloccini (Argentina and Newcastle)
Yes, I know, another Argentine. But at least he doesn’t play his trade in Manchester. Coloccini is Newcastle’s captain and has 248 appearances for the club since 2008. He just signed a one-year extension, meaning we’ll be seeing this curly-haired defender for a little longer in the EPL.
Carlos Sánchez (Colombia and Aston Villa)
His nickname is “The Rock” and that should pretty much tell you everything about him. He was excellent against Brazil in Copa América and Tim Sherwood will be hoping for some more of the same for the Villains this season.
Roberto Firmino (Brazil and Liverpool)
It might take him time to adjust to the League, but Firmino is an extremely talented player. He is a fast, skilled attacking midfielder who will punish any defender who gives him any space. He will have a big role this season, playing the link between midfield and attack. Some goals would be nice too.
Jefferson Montero (Ecuador and Swansea)
We already talked about his performance against Chelsea on the opening day of the season, but the truth of the matter is that this kid is special. He’s fast and dynamic, and thanks to the free-flowing style that Gary Monk likes to play at Swansea, Montero will feature heavily this season.
Miguel Layún (Mexico and Watford)
One of the great things about Layún is that he’s extremely versatile. He can play as a defender, in midfield, or as a winger, as he does for Watford. His aforementioned goal from two weeks ago also proves that he’s a good finisher with an eye for goal. Layún started all of Mexico’s World Cup games last year, and he was a big reason behind their great performances in the tournament.
Sergio Aguero (Argentina and Manchester City)
I can hear you screaming at the screen. “Another Argentine?!” But come on, this is Aguero. If 78 goals since 2011 in the League doesn’t get you on this team, I don’t know what will. The key for him and Manchester City is to remain healthy and not to miss out on any significant time.
Alexis Sánchez (Chile and Arsenal)
Sánchez is a machine. On the field, he’s a relentless workaholic who doesn’t stop running. Seriously. He doesn’t stop. After winning Copa América this summer, Sánchez returned to Arsenal only three days before their opening game against West Ham and Wenger is keen not to exhaust the dynamic forward. If Arsenal has any hope of winning the League this year, they need Sánchez fit and healthy.