For several decades, soccer leagues tended to be purely composed of players from the nation they played in. This was because it was difficult to scout further afield than your own borders, so often players who were excelling in far away countries were left there. In addition, the idea of bringing in a new recruit from a different continent was incredibly expensive, so during the early and mid-part of the 20th century, it very rarely happened.
However, over time, this slowly began to change. In England, Ossie Ardiles and Riccardo Villa were 2 of the first players to make the move, joining Tottenham after their performances in the 1978 World Cup. While it seemed strange to begin with, it slowly became a more accepted and standard practice, and soon the English First Division was awash with non-British players.
It began to pick up pace in Spain too, and given their natural affiliation with the Spanish/Portuguese speaking countries of South America, such as Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. Soon enough, there were hundreds of quality South Americans plying their trade in La Liga. They even began to excel, to the point where the EFE news agency, one of the major multimedia news agencies in the Spanish Language, decided to start to hand out an award each year for the best Latin-American player in the Spanish soccer league system.
The first winner for the 1990/91 season was Rommel Fernandez, a Panamanian who played for Tenerife. While he might not be a household name anymore, several of the players who were presented the EFE award were, such as Romaro, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, and the current Atletico Madrid manager, Diego Simeone. Given 4 of these players were from Brazil, it would have been a wise decision to look for odds and place bets on a Brazilian winning the award, especially during those early years.
Messi makes his mark
Placing bets on who will win the Trofeo EFE award is popular amongst sports bettors. In advance of the announcement, they will be using the best sportsbooks to locate the odds, to see who is the favourite in the betting stats. During the mid 2000s, it was always seen as a smart idea to place bets on Lionel Messi to win the award, as between 2007 and 2012 he picked it up 5 times. The only year he didn’t win, 2008, it was his fellow Argentine Sergio Aguero who won, following a stellar campaign with Atletico.
While Messi continued to play extraordinarily well for Barcelona, right up until he left in summer 2021, it appears that Troefo EFE made a decision to vary the winners, so that Messi couldn’t dominate it in quite the same way. It made looking for odds on the award a bit more interesting, as a number of players could be worth betting on.
One player who has performed very highly in La Liga in the past decade is Luis Suarez. He was awarded the Trofeo EFE for his performances in the 2014/15 season, while he was a Barcelona player. While he continued to score plenty of goals and win matches due to his skill, other players won the award ahead of him for the following 6 seasons. However, following his recent exploits for Atletico, he has won the Trofeo EFE award for the 2021 too. Let’s take a look at his career as a whole, and also focus on what has helped him to pick up the coveted trophy this year.
Class and controversy come hand in hand
While Suarez has always been recognised as a top quality player, ever since his early days playing for Groningen and Aja, he has also always been a polarizing figure. Whilst in the Netherlands, Suarez was fined and suspended by Ajax for biting Otman Bakkal, a PSV Eindhoven player, during a match between the 2 sides. It was following this incident that he moved to Liverpool, who were hoping it was a one off incident.
Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t. It happened again with Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, which led to another lengthy ban. However, once he came back into the side, he was absolutely electric, nearly guiding them to the title. It then fell apart again, following another biting incident at the World Cup, which then saw him leave Liverpool to join Barclona.
Instrumental in title win
Suarez left Barcelona in 2020, and joined Diego Simeone at Atletico. While some people thought he had passed his best, he clearly had the desire to show everyone that he still had a lot to give.
It was his winning goal against Real Valladolid that gave them the title, on the final day of the season. It meant that their rivals, Real Madrid, ended up missing out, which would have pleased the fans no end. He scored 21 league goals, which clearly influenced the decision makers in giving him the honour of the Trofeo EFE award.