Liverpool icon tops ranking of every single Uruguayan player to feature in Premier League

Matt Stead
Diego Forlan celebrates scoring against Liverpool

Darwin Nunez will hope to emulate the success of one former Liverpool player if he moves to Anfield. Uruguayans have had a mixed time of it.


23) Omar Pouso (Charlton 2006)
It does feel a little like Iain Dowie signed Omar Pouso specifically because of his spectacular volley in a World Cup warm-up friendly between England and Uruguay in March 2006. The ninth and final signing of the club’s most recent top-flight summer – Andy Reid, Madjid Bougherra, Amdy Faye, Djimi Traore and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink represent the foundations for a phenomenal transfer window – Pouso played just 57 minutes in a defeat to Portsmouth before his season-long loan was ended mercifully early.


22) Nacho Gonzalez (Newcastle 2008)
One of the reasons Kevin Keegan left Newcastle
for a second time. The deal to loan Nacho Gonzalez within 24 hours of him joining Valencia was, according to the former Magpies manager, ‘a favour for two agents’ instigated by executive director Dennis Wise. “You don’t even have to play this guy,” Wise is purported to have said. Keegan did. Twice. For a cumulative total of 39 minutes in a pair of defeats.


21) Walter Lopez (West Ham 2009)
Unbeaten in five appearances. It is worth pointing out that the longest of those lasted 11 minutes. He was substituted on for the eclectic quintet of David Di Michele, Scott Parker, Luis Boa Morte, Junior Stanislas and Mark Noble in the space of just over two months.


20) Diego Poyet (West Ham 2014-15)
“I didn’t want to be somewhere I wasn’t wanted. I was made to feel like a pest. I would turn up to training and I would know the staff didn’t want me there,” Diego Poyet once said of his West Ham denouement. His release came in summer 2016, 18 months after his third and final Premier League appearance for the club.


19) Adrian Paz (Ipswich 1994-95)
The first Premier League Uruguayan. Not quite the best. It was in a joint transfer with Mauricio Taricco that Adrian Paz came to these shores but whereas his Argentinean counterpart enjoyed a fine decade in England, Paz stayed for a single season, scored in a defeat to Liverpool and left in a relegated haze.


18) Guillermo Varela (Manchester United 2015-16)
The official first signing of the David Moyes era made all his senior Manchester United appearances under Louis van Gaal. Guillermo Varela played 11 times in the 2015/16 season, including in the infamous ‘Nick Powell’ Champions League group game against Wolfsburg, the Marcus Rashford debut at home to Midtjylland and a 2-1 defeat to a Bournemouth side who “really fancied ourselves” when they saw the state of the opposition defence.


17) Martin Caceres (Southampton 2017)
One game. One win. It was in a relatively meaningless end-of-season match against relegated Middlesbrough and Patrick Bamford was allowed to score his first Premier League goal in the process. But yeah. One game. One win.


16) Williams Martinez (West Brom 2006)
Came on for Thomas Gaardsoe at half-time to stem the tide as West Brom trailed Fulham in February 2006; they went from losing 2-0 to being beaten 6-1. Did not play again until the final game of the campaign away at Everton, in which he scored and then conceded a decisive last-minute penalty.


15) Gonzalo Sorondo (Crystal Palace 2004-05 and Charlton 2005-06)
Played almost exclusively under Dowie, spending the 2004/05 season with Andy Johnson’s doomed Crystal Palace before jumping from that wreckage to a Charlton ship which was on its way to the seabed. An initial loan with the Addicks passed by without consequence thanks to the guiding hand of Alan Curbishley, but once the deal was made permanent in the summer of 2006, Sorondo only played once more.


14) Dario Silva (Portsmouth 2005-06)
Joined Portsmouth on the evening of the summer 2005 transfer deadline day. Scored in back-to-back fixtures against Charlton and Sunderland. Secured his release by February. Substituted at half-time for Svetoslav Todorov in his last appearance.


13) Diego Lugano (West Brom 2013-14)
Perhaps best remembered by West Brom supporters for his exceptional performance in a 4-3 defeat to Aston Villa, in which Lugano effectively assisted one opposition goal with a dreadful header back, before he missed a sitter at 3-3 and then conceded the decisive penalty. Won one of his 11 Premier League games. It was obviously against Moyes-era Manchester United.


12) Diego Forlan (Manchester United 2002-04)
He came from Uruguay. He made the Scousers cry. He scored one-fifth of his career Premier League goals against Liverpool and Jerzy Dudek. He won the Premier League title and FA Cup. He also scored a last-minute winner to beat Chelsea and once proved himself incapable of redressing.


11) Abel Hernandez (Hull 2014-17)
A low-key occupier of the Aleksandar Mitrovic Province, scoring eight goals in 50 Premier League games but 28 in 49 Championship matches after relegation. Hernandez was a club-record signing for Hull who punched Phil Jones and once took part in an absurd double overhead kick goal against the reigning English league champions. It was Leicester on a massive comedown but still.


10) Sebastian Coates (Liverpool 2011-13 and Sunderland 2014-16)
The subject of overhead kicks brings us neatly to Sebastian Coates, whose most memorable of 12 Premier League games for Liverpool – and only goal across 38 matches in the competition for the Reds and Sunderland – came in acrobatic fashion against a QPR side he inexplicably never played for.


9) Walter Pandiani (Birmingham 2005-06)
“He’s a good footballer but I thought he would get better the longer he was here,” said a regretful Steve Bruce of Walter Pandiani. Birmingham loaned the forward in January 2005 and signed him permanently for £3m that summer after he scored in wins over Southampton, Liverpool and Arsenal, as well as a draw with Chelsea. Pandiani never settled, however, and 17 appearances later he was sold back to Spain at the first available opportunity for a £2m loss in six months.


8) Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough 2016-17)
It is a minor miracle that a non-centre-forward managed to score four goals in 16 starts for a relegated Aitor Karanka team.


7) Miguel Britos (Watford 2015-19)
Argue all you want but Watford signed Miguel Britos upon promotion in summer 2015 and he retired in 2019, feeling “totally unmotivated”.  The Hornets retained their Premier League status in each of his four seasons and were relegated as soon as he left. He also once humbled Zlatan.


6) Gaston Ramirez (Southampton 2012-16, Hull 2014-15 and Middlesbrough 2016-17)
Ronald Koeman claimed Gaston Ramirez “took too much freedom” as a substitute in a 6-0 League Cup win over MK Dons in September 2015. It is a mystery as to why his Southampton career never ignited. Hull and Middlesbrough both took a chance on the forward and were subsequently immediately relegated, although not as a direct consequence of signing him. Leicester weirdly tried to get him in January 2017, while still reigning as champions. They were in a bit of a relegation fight so it does make sense.


5) Rodrigo Bentancur (Tottenham 2022)
It is always a pain to rank not only current but also fleeting players. Recency bias says they should be higher. Barclays prejudice suggests players from the mid-2000s ought to take precedence. Bias nonce journalism dictates that either course is wrong. Bentancur has been great since moving to Tottenham in February, only losing one of the 10 times he completed the full 90 minutes. He might be rubbish and make this ranking look as stupid as it is pointless after a full season but still.


4) Edinson Cavani (Manchester United 2020-22)
Somewhere between Radamel Falcao and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the pantheon of continental 30-something Manchester United strikers sits Edinson Cavani. Season one was a thrill of a goal or assist every 100 minutes, a European final and raucous applause every time he chased down a defender’s clearance to concede a goal-kick. Season two was a mess of storylines and failure to deliver on hype as the Uruguayan surrendered his shirt number and succumbed to all of the injuries. Neither party ever seemed particularly interested in another renewal.


3) Lucas Torreira (Arsenal 2018-20)
What a weird Premier League career. Arsenal had a deal tied up with Sampdoria before Lucas Torreira impressed at the 2018 World Cup. He was bloody immense for a month or so from that November. He scored against Spurs and was sent off for clattering into Danny Rose. He was awkwardly transformed from combative defensive midfielder to No.10 under Unai Emery. He featured regularly for Mikel Arteta but suddenly found himself thoroughly processed and has not played for the club since July 2020. Torreira will have a year left on his contract when he returns from a loan at Fiorentina. Don’t expect a north London renaissance.


2) Gus Poyet (Chelsea 1997-2001 and Tottenham 2001-04)
Already 29 when he joined Chelsea, Gus Poyet suffered two cruciate ligament injuries yet still made 187 Premier League appearances, scored 54 goals from midfield and won three trophies. That might not even be his most admirable achievement: the bloke remains relatively fondly remembered both at Stamford Bridge and by fellow former club Tottenham.


1) Luis Suarez (Liverpool 2011-14)
A supremely talented footballer. A mightily flawed human. Liverpool would likely prefer for Darwin Nunez to emulate the former. No more dodgy t-shirts, please.