South America's prestigious Libertadores Cup kicks of this week with the qualifying phase, but some teams will be missing key players. Nolberto Solano scored the penalty kick that iced a record 25th Peruvian title for Universitario and ensured the its Libertadores spot. But Solano signed for English lower division club Leicester.
Uruguayan playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro, 20, was South America's big revelation of 2009, helping Nacional become the first Uruguayan club to reach the semifinals in 20 years. Lodeiro signed for Ajax Amsterdam last week. Colombian striker Teofilo Gutierrez scored rivers of goals for Junior of Barranquilla. He has moved to Turkey to join Trabzonspor.
World stars who will be in action are 2002 World Cup champions Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos of Corinthians. But Tim Vickery writes while the Libertadores is glamorous stuff, the constant selling undermines the it, especially with the January transfer window on the eve of the big kickoff. On the other hand, it does make the competition gloriously unpredictable. With even the biggest clubs continually waving off their best players the situation is very different from Europe, where the number of clubs capable of winning the Champions League has shrunk.
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