European clubs have historically turned to South American football as a relatively low-cost but highly profitable source of talent. In this regard, we can say that since the 1950s, at a time when Omar Sívori went to Juventus or Alfredo Di Stefano to Real Madrid, this trend was already seen and it has been maximized since the Bosman Law in the 1990s, to the point that Europe is full of football players from South America.
One of the most curious cases in this type of transfers is that one that has not occurred (yet), which concerns the young (23 years old) and skillful inside forward, Yeferson Soteldo. The Venezuelan, formed in his country’s Zamora FC, would leave his country at age 20 to sign for Huchipato and later to Universidad de Chile.
After shining in Chile, Yeferson Soteldo signed for Santos de Brasil, wearing the iconic number ten shirt that was once wore by Pele. At Santos, Soteldo has become a mainstay in the starting eleven, being one of the most prominent players in Serie A in Brazil and in the CONMEBOL Libertadores Cup, where he has been one of the best players in the tournament, leading the team so far to the semifinals.
Soteldo is a player who plays mostly on the left from where he uses his pace and dribbling in addition to his short stature (1.60 m) to fly past defenders. Perhaps his stature is one of the things that keep European clubs away because they are worried he wouldn’t stand the physicality of the top leagues. However, it is important to remember that there have been other cases of players with short stature shining in the main leagues in Europe, such as Alejandro “Papu” Gomez from Atalanta (1.64 m) or Lorenzo Insigne from Napoli (1.63 m).
On the other hand, clubs like Real Madrid have signed several young Brazilian players in recent years or Manchester United that recently signed Facundo Pellistri from Peñarol and is interested in Moisés Caicedo from Independiente del Valle, with all of them having shown less than Soteldo in professional football.
So why has Soteldo not being the subject of a transfer to Europe? He has been an excellent footballer in all his clubs and he has always played in a consistent manner, plus he has a certain degree of aesthetics in his playing style that get people’s attention. At his age and with the success Yeferson Soteldo has enjoyed throughout his career, like being part of 2020’s Best XI of South America, he still hasn’t been linked to any major move to Europe.
We should wait and see which team decides to bet on this little Venezuelan magician.