We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Thanks to the footballing success of and the sheer number of top footballers produced by countries such as Argentina and Brazil, people don’t often think of Venezuela when it comes to South American soccer, though there’s plenty of talent that comes from within the Veneualan border, both right now and in the past.
Let’s take a look at some of the best players that Venezuela has to offer at present, as well as some of their best players of all time.
Best Current Venezuelan Soccer Players
Undoubtedly one of the most talented players of his generation, not only in Venezuela, but in South America, Yefferson Soteldo has all of the qualities that make people fall in love with what the beautiful game has to offer in South America.
Rising to prominence at the Under-20 World Cup, where he starred for Venezuela as they reached the final in 2017, Soteldo is a player blessed with tremendous skill and natural ability. At just 1.60m (5ft 3 in), he’s far from physically imposing, but what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in skill, trickery and speed. Never shy to take players on, Soteldo has been known to score superb goals from long range.
After showcasing his skills in Chile, first with Huachipato and then Universidad de Chile, the mini magician signed for Brazilian big boys Santos, where he impressed both domestically and on the continent, scoring vital goals for his team en route to reaching the Copa Libertadores final in 2020. His impressive performances in Brazil earned him a lucrative move to Major League Soccer, and after a relatively short stint playing for Toronto FC, he’s now with Mexican giants Tigres.
A versatile, destructive and hard-hitting defensive player, Tomás Rincón is one of few Venezuelans to have a full and successful career outside of South America. The man deployed primarily as a defensive midfielder left Venezuelan shores at a young age and set sail for Europe, where he made his name battling for Hamburger SV, representing the German club 106 times before leaving for Serie A, where he has been a regular for teams such as Genoa, Torino and Sampdoria. In Turin, he made 109 appearances for Torino, while a brief stint playing for Juventus saw him pick up both a Serie A medal and a Coppa Italia title.
Only the legendary Juan Arango has made more national team appearances than Rincón, who by playing for his country no fewer than 118 times has been an integral part of Venezuelan football for over a decade.
No article about Venezuelan soccer players would be complete with covering the imposing future of Salomón Rondón, who is the only Venezuelan to carve out a Premier League career. After successful spells in Spain and Russia with Las Palmas, Malaga, Rubin Kazan, and finally, Zenit, Rondón joined forces with Premier League side West Bromwich Albion, where he rapidly became the main man. In 108 games for the Baggies, the Venezuelan hitman notched 24 goals, before scoring 11 times whilst on loan at Newcastle United. After short-lived spells in China and once again Russia, the veteran’s Premier League journey continues with Everton.
The highest scoring Venezualan national team player of all time, with 35 goals in 88 games, Rondón the target man has scored goals at a rate that few other Venezuelans can match.
Ask soccer fans in the US to name the best Venezualan player and they’ll surely go for Josef Martínez, who has been a revelation in Major League Soccer. After showing great promise for Caracas in his homeland, the youngster moved to Europe, where he enjoyed a successful spell playing for Young Boys in Switzerland, as well as a loan spell at Thun that yielded eight goals in just 18 appearances. From there, Serie A came calling, yet despite making 58 appearances, the striker failed to really leave his mark during a three-spell with Torino, though the best was yet to come.
A brief loan spell where the physically dominant and menacing forward scored five goals in just three games, prompted MLS side Atlanta United to sign Martínez on a permanent deal in 2017, and they’ll be eternally thankful that they did. Already a club legend, Martínez has scored 94 goals in 121 games for the Five Stripes, leading them to a first and only MLS Cup victory in 2018, the year in which he was also crowned MLS Most Valuable Player.
Best Venezuelan Soccer Player of All Time
There are a few players who could lay claim to the title of best Venezuelan soccer player of all time, and they include the aforementioned Tomás Eduardo Rincón and Salomón Rondón, who is the country’s top scorer of all time with 35 goals. Giancarlo Maldonado, is also worthy of mention due to his effort for the national team, though as a club footballer, he was largely a journeyman who never made it to Europe. Someone who did make it to Europe, and made an impact when there, is Juan Arango.
A key part of the Venezuelan team that reached the quarter-finals of the 2007 Copa America, Juan Aranga is the best of the bunch as far as Venezuelan soccer players go. He captained the side that finished fourth at the 2011 Copa America, which remains the country’s best effort at a major tournament, and he scored his team’s only goal during the third-place match loss to Peru.
Domestically, Arango thrived in Mexican football, particularly with Pachuca and Puebla, before making the switch to Europe, where for five years, he was an integral part of a Real Mallorca team that consistently held its place in the top tier of Spanish football. The forward scored 45 times for the Balearic Islands side, playing in 183 games, before moving to Germany, where he joined forces with Borussia Mönchengladbach, where he once again became a key figure, scoring 25 goals in 154 appearances.
During his time in Germany, Arango became known for scoring eye-catching goals, some of which were wonderfully improbable, like the one he hit from a ridiculous 48 yards out against Mainz, which prompted his manager to label him as one of the best left-footed players in the world. A cute finisher, who often drifted in field from a starting position on the left flank, Arango treated the Gladbach faithful to a real array of strikes, and was every bit a fan favourite.