Chilean Matias Fernandez, who earlier this week transferred from Colo Colo to Spanish club Villarreal for a reported euro8.7 million ($11.46 million), has been voted South American player of the year, the Uruguayan daily El Pais said on Saturday.
Fernandez received 62 votes in the newspaper's annual poll of regional sports reporters, edging Argentine Rodrigo Palacio of Boca Juniors by six votes.
Another Argentine, Fernando Gago, who last week moved from Boca Juniors to Real Madrid in a euro20 million (US$26.3 million) transfer and signed a six-year contract, finished third.
The 20-year-old Fernandez led Colo Colo to both the Apertura and Clausura titles _ the club's 24th and 25th Chilean league crowns _ as well as the Copa Sudamericana final before it lost to Mexico's Pachuca.
He finished second in scoring in the Apertura season with 14 goals, five behind teammate Humberto Suazo, and scored another 14 in the Clausura to again finish runner-up, three behind Union de Concepcion's Leonardo Monje.
El Pais cited Fernandez's "meteoric" rise, noting he had never before appeared among the poll's leaders. His signing with Villarreal means South American fans "lose one of those players who are worth the price of admission," the paper said.
Colo Colo's Argentine coach Claudio Borghi was voted coach of the year, the paper said.