Things have changed at the international level for the three World-Cup winning South American giants, and no one put it more in perspective than Hernan Crespo in  an interview with Radio Del Plata.

“Back in 1995, I had to fight for a place (on the national team) against players like (Gabriel) Batistuta, Abel Balbo, and Claudio Caniggia while I was playing in Argentina.  That is a different situation and the best place to be able to compete for a national team spot is in the same conditions. Most of the from the midfield on up play in Europe.”

His lack of play at Inter has forced him to place an ultimatum on Massimo Moratti and Jose Mourinho as to play him or sell him come December. When news broke of this desired transfer, immediately River Plate was looking to repatriate their prodigal son. Even Boca Juniors offered him the opportunity to replace Martín Palermo, but he mentioned that he was “identified with River”. He did not reject a return to Argentina because he looks at it as inferior compared to Europe, he just knows that he would be virtually retiring from international play if he did so. That is why you have to agree with what he said.

Despite rhetoric by Alfio Basile ever since his second stint as coach of the Albiceleste, the tendency has been to select players from Europe. His “minicamps” with domestic players that led to nothing and mentioning that he was going to call up players- after they got injured. (There have been players like Juan Sebastián Verón and Juan Román Riquelme who were being called up on a regular basis. The callup was mostly made based on reputation that these two players have at the international level. The lone player that has received regular call ups without playing for a European side has been Rodrigo Palacio.

The Argentine national team only had one player back in 1978 (Mario Kempes with Valencia) that played abroad. Their 1986 side saw a big jump as seven players took part in in Carlos Bilardo’s side that year.

Brazil’s greatest team back in 1970 did not see one player from the European leagues. Their great 1982 side only had two European-based players. Eventually Sebastião Lazaroni and his theory of having more tactically obedient players in a Brazil side the was the antithesis of their ’82 and ’86 predecessors. This Brazil team was the first of several side that won ugly and at the same time handcuffed their players at the individual level. This was the

    Argentine World Cup Players While Playing in Europe

1978– Mario Kempes (Valencia)
1986– Diego Maradona (Napoli), Daniel Passarella (Fiorentina), Jorge Valdano (Real Madrid), Jorge Burruchaga (Nantes), Pedro Pasculli (Lecce), Marcelo Trobbiani (Elche)*
1990– Nery Pumpido (Real Betis), Diego Maradona (Napoli), Abel Balbo (Udinese), José Basualdo (Stuttgart), Gabriel Calderón (Paris-St. Germain), Jorge Burruchaga (Nantes), Claudio Caniggia (Atalanta), Gustavo Dezotti (Cremonese), Nestor Lorenzo (Bari), Oscar Ruggeri (Real Madrid), Pedro Troglio (Lazio)
*- Celada played in Mexico

    Brazilian World Cup Players in Europe

1970-1978: 0
1982: Falcao (AS Roma), Dirceu (Atlético Madrid)
1986: Edinho (Udinese), Júnior (Torino)
1990: Jorginho (Bayer Leverkusen), Ricardo Gomes (Benfica), Alemão (Napoli), Antonio Careca (Napoli), Branco (Porto), Valdo (Benfica), Paulo Silas (Sporting Lisbon), Romário (PSV), Mozer (Olympique Marseille), Aldair (Porto), Muller (Torino)
1994*: Taffarel (Reggiana), Jorginho (Bayern Munich), Mauro Silva (Deportivo), Bebeto (Deportivo), Dunga (Stuttgart), Rai (Paris- St. Germain), Romário (Barcelona), Aldair (AS Roma), Marcio Santos (Bordeaux), Paulo Sergio (Bayer Leverkusen)
*World Cup-Winning Side
-Ronaldão and Leonardo played in Japan

You can talk to any player and for them their biggest achievement would be to play for their national team. There is no bigger honor that to play for their country. They also know that with international duty comes a larger price tag. This is also an indirect cause for so many young players to head to Europe prematurely. They know that if they do not make it across the pond, they will never be considered for international duty. Despite the national team coach being a drive from their games at the local level, they will sit and watch the games from Europe on satellite. There will be times that they will even fly to the Old Continent to check on their stars, giving the domestic players little or no attention.