MONTEVIDEO: Gremio forward Luan has been voted South American Footballer of the Year in the annual poll organised by El Pais of Uruguay.

Luan Guilherme de Jesus Vieira, star of the Brazilian club who won the Copa Libertadores and were runners-up to Real Madrid in the FIFA Club World Cup, was a decisive winner.

He gathered 182 votes among a panel of sports journalists across South America ahead of Flamengo’s Peruvian veteran Paolo Guerrero and Gremio team-mate Arthur.

Only footballers playing in South American leagues are eligible for the award which was launched in 1971 by the Venezuelan newspaper El Mundo and taken over by El Pais in 1986.

Luan, 24, originally from São José do Rio Preto, Sao Paulo, played for state second division club Tanabi then Catanduvense before being transferred to Gremio in late 2013.

In 2015 Luan was named in the year’s Brasileirão Team of the Year and was a member of the Olympic gold medal-winning squad the following year. He scored three goals including Brazil’s crucial second in their quarter-final defeat of Colombia.

Luan, who made his full senior debut as a substitute in a 1-0 friendly win over Colombia last January, was voted best player in the 2017 Copa Libertadores. He scored Gremio’s all-important second goal in their 1-0, 2-1 win over Argentina’s Lanus in the final.