Sundowns continue to show faith in Samba Stars

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  • Post published:September 18, 2023

Mamelodi Sundowns continue to put their faith in recruiting South Americans, with Brazilian attacker Lucas Ribeiro the latest at Chloorkop, writes Dylan Appolis.

Mamelodi Sundowns have completed the unusual, though not unique, feat of signing a South American player who has already made
it to Europe.

The last time they did that was to bring in Brazilian defender Ricardo Nascimento from Portuguese side Academica, and he would go on to have a stellar stay at Chloorkop for the next six years.

This time, the player is younger and arguably has his best years ahead of him. Lucas Ribeiro is 25 and has been signed from Belgian second-tier side Beveren, where he had spent the past two seasons.

As with many of the South Americans who find their way to our shores, he has been a bit of a journeyman in his career to date, with no fewer than six clubs since he left Brazil for France in 2018.

He was born in Santa Helena, Brazil and was a youth product of Pinheiros before moving to French Ligue 2 outfit Valenciennes, where he played for the B team as well as the senior team.

After making just one appearance for Valenciennes, Ribeiro moved to Belgian side Virton and made his professional debut for the club in their 3–2 victory over Roeselare in the Belgian First Division B in October 2019. He went on to score four goals and feature eight more times before finally parting ways with the club.

In 2020, Ribeiro opted to stay in Belgium and made the switch to Charleroi, making eight appearances before he was loaned out to RWDM47, Mouscron and Waasland–Beveren.

Ribeiro impressed Waasland–Beveren enough as they opted to make his loan move permanent when they tripped the option to buy, handing him a two- year contract.

During the subsequent spell at the Belgian Challenger Pro League side, he had a hand in 23 goals, scoring 13 and registering 10 assists in 43 appearances across all competitions.

Following an impressive stint at Beveren in which they narrowly missed out on promotion to the Jupiler Pro League, Mamelodi Sundowns came calling for his signature.

Sundowns wasted little time capturing his services before announcing that the Brazilian joined the club for an undisclosed fee.
“Brace yourselves Masandawana! Lucas Ribeiro Costa has joined the Yellow family!” Sundowns announced.

Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena expressed his delight at Ribeiro’s quality and contributions after he found the back of the net on debut in their opening DStv Premiership clash this season against Sekhukhune United.

“This is why we brought him on: He gives the team something that we didn’t have last season. A lot of work was done to strengthen the squad with transfers,” Mokwena said.

“At the end of last season, I said we won’t do too much business, there will be five players coming in and we’ve got our five now. We will settle a bit and try to improve the team. [The new players] need time.”

He has become the third South American in the reigning champions’ squad, alongside Gastón Sirino of Argentina and Chilean national-team player Marcelo Allende.

“First of all the visit from Mr Flemming (Sundowns’s sporting director Flemming Berg) to Belgium to talk to me, to talk to my agent,” Ribeiro recounted on Sundowns’ The PitchSide Podcast.

“He showed the ambition of the club and the club’s project and that is already a very important step. When they showed interest in me, I started researching the club, the fans, the city and that was, it felt like I was going home to Brazil.

“The fans, the way they are, the supporters are wonderful. I am sure I made the right decision.

“A few things came up when researching the club because I didn’t know much about it. When I researched it showed that Sundowns is a club that always wins titles and that it is the biggest club in Africa.”

The 24-year-old will bring versatility to the squad as he can play as either an attacking midfielder, winger or second striker.

“I am really excited to be here,” said Ribeiro. “I cannot wait to dance to the sound of the drum that encapsulates the yellow nation.”

Ribeiro will add some experience, class, quality and versatility to the squad with him becoming one of five new signings alongside the likes of Lesiba Nku, Junior Mendieta, Thapelo Maseko and Bathusi Aubaas as Sundowns look to fight on the domestic and continental front in the 2023/24 season.

Photo by Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix