Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa believes that it is impossible for South American football to ever be at the same level as it is in Europe because players leave before they play for their clubs. The Argentinian also added that by signing young players, clubs are running their formative years.
While there was once a time where the South American leagues ranked just as high as Europe’s top five, things have drastically changed over the last few decades. It has seen the top tiers of many South American leagues drop well off the rankings with statistical site FiveThirtyEight ranking the Brazilian Serie A 8th in the world and the Argentinian Primera Division 19th in the world. That’s behind the MLS, the Turkish top tier, the Scottish top tier and a few others.
It showcases just how far the drop has been for South American football and Marcelo Bielsa believes that the European leagues will be greater because of how big the gap has become now. The Leeds United head coach further added that South American football is also producing a fewer number of players because of the fact that they’re being taken as teenagers by European clubs, which only hurts the footballers and not the clubs.
"The gap is so big. It's impossible for South American football to be at the same level as Europe. If you look, South American leagues are providing fewer and fewer players for Europe because players are leaving their countries of origin before they have shone for the clubs they belong to,” Bielsa told Sky Sports.
"The only thing that does is harm everyone. If you buy a player of 15 years old, the formative process that player has to go through in the place where they were born, in the club they belong to, in the league they know, is disrupted.
"If you put him in a completely different and unknown place, instead of helping his development, you interrupt it. It is something which isn't investigated much, but the South American clubs often aren't the owners of these players. The players play for the clubs but they aren't the actual owners of them. Players of 15 years old have different owners to the clubs they belong to. It's a sad reality and it is difficult to explain,” he added.