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Last Updated: Monday, 4 December 2006, 10:27 GMT
Tim Vickery column
By Tim Vickery
South American football reporter

West Ham's Argentine striker Carlos Tevez
Tevez is aware it is simply not enough for a player to prove his greatness without succeeding in European club football.

Carlos Tevez will not be named the best player of the Americas for a fourth successive year in the prestigious poll organised by Uruguayan newspaper El Pais.

Tevez's presence at West Ham bars him from a competition only open to players based in the Americas.

In fact, one of the main reasons behind Tevez's recent domination is that very few top players stay in South American football for as long as he did.

Tevez became only the second player behind Carlos Valderrama to win the award more than once.

The young Argentine is determined to play his way through the current problems he is facing at Upton Park. Wherever he went in Europe he would have to adapt to the extra pace and physicality of the game.

"in South America, you can get by on skill and technique," he said recently, "But not here. I'll have to be patient and keep learning."

Tevez is well aware he cannot duck the challenge. Apart from the obvious financial benefits and the escape from South America's urban violence, there is another powerful force pushing the continent's stars across the Atlantic.

In today's globalised world it is simply not enough for a player to prove his greatness without succeeding in European club football.

South America's leading players have long realised this and the continent's most successful clubs have acted on this realisation.

Take Brazilian side Internacional, who will represent South America in the Club World Championship in Japan.

The Porto Alegre club are masters of youth development but their victorious Copa Libertadores team contained only one home-grown player, star striker Rafael Sobis, and he has since been sold to Spain's Real Betis.

In this decade alone, the club have also produced Daniel Carvalho, Nilmar, Lucio and Fabio Rochemback, all full internationals who were sold to Europe for big money.

Former Internacional striker Rafael Sobis is now at Real Betis
Internacional's victorious Copa Libertadores team contained only one home-grown player, star striker Rafael Sobis, who has since been sold to Spain's Real Betis

Internacional make no bones about their business model. The aim is to produce and sell potentially great players in order to retain a squad made up of average and good ones.

Club president Fernando Carvalho said: "It's because we sell players that we can pay our wages on time and maintain our structure, it enables us to be competitive."

It makes Brazilian football sound like the country's coffee, the best beans are exported and the harsher ones remain for domestic consumption, with larges doses of sugar to hide the rough edges.

The football sweetener is the chance to watch the early steps of those who may go on to become global stars.

Internacional have another potential star who could be their secret weapon in Japan, despite having less than 90 minutes first-team football behind him.

Striker Alexandre Pato, 17, was kept wrapped in cotton wool until the penultimate round of the Brazilian championship.

Then on his professional debut, he ripped Palmeiras to shreds before half time.

The secret was out, and Fernando Carvalho declared: "He's a phenomenon."

A slight knock kept the teenage sensation out of the last game of the domestic campaign but he will be on the flight to Japan where Inter may well bring him off the bench.

And European scouts will doubtless start scribbling in their notebooks.

SEE ALSO
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12 Jul 05 |  World Football


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