According to the brazilian media (Fox Sports, ESPN and Globo Esporte), and to the player himself, that told a room with over 50 people he was moving to Barcelona, our first 2017-18 signing is Lucas Lima.
He’ll land in the Catalan capital in the final days of 2017, and will be available to us after January 1st, 2018. He’ll come as a free agent, with a 5mi euros signings bonus and 4mi euros in net yealy wages.
Unlike the last time I wrote about a brazilian signing (Douglas), Lima is a good player, that has had a great 2015 season here in Brazil, suffered with injuries in 2016, and is currently having a decent 2017 season.
He’s a creative midfielder, who likes to start plays near the halfway line. Most brazilian teams are stuck with either a 442 or 4231 formation, and Lima has mostly played as a RCM/RW, cutting inside (he’s left footed) to combine with the other midfielders and create chances, behind the strikers. He does have the capacity and vision to also play in the center and left sides, when needed, and especially in counter attacking chances.
Lima has great vision, averaging 3,3 key passes per game in 2017, and 0,5 through balls per game during the same period. While he’s intelligent and knows how to move his body and make use of his low centre of gravity to beat his opponents, he isn’t a great dribbler, averaging just 0,8 dribbles per match this season. Even on his best overall season (2015), he averaged 2,4 dribbles/match, but he does have other skills that make up for this flaw.
He likes to combine with his team mates, always looking for the best passing option available before trying a through ball or dribbling. Lima rarely gets dispossessed, mainly due to the fact he doesn’t try to dribble often, and even though he’s able to show his best when given space on counters, normally tries to be calm on attacking situations and doesn’t take naive risks.
Even though he doesn’t do it constantly, he’s great at pressing and won’t just sit back and watch the opponents CDMs and CBs pass the ball around. He’s given assists and scored after dispossessing his adversaries near the area more than a few times.
Lima doesn’t focus much on scoring goals himself, and rarely tries to shoot from distance, having scored only 3 career goals from outisde the area. He’s good in dead ball situations, but always focuses on assisting his team mates, never having scored a career free kick goal.
These are some of Lima’s best performances in 2017, so far:
OK, SO HE ISN’T DOUGLAS… BUT WHAT WILL HE ADD TO FCB?
Lima’s signing means Rafinha will definitely be sold this summer. Not only both of them are left footed players that like to cut inside and mainly thrive playing on the right side of the pitch, our club needs the money from Rafinha’s sale not only to be able to go after our main targets (Verratti and Dembele), but to also deal with our growing wage bill, that will get even bigger with Messi’s renewal.
Sadly, Lima’s arrival will also mean Alenya’s development and chances on the first team will suffer. Lima most likely will not be a starter, so the minutes he will have from the bench will obviously stop Alenya from playing much.
Tactically, Lima can be a backup to Messi (Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous), if Messi remains as a RW that cuts inside to create chances/do whatever he feels like. But, since the reality is Messi will play 95% of our minutes, Lima will rarely ever play “in Messi’s place”.
What could happen is: since Valverde adores 4231, Lima could be used as a RCM/RW, while Messi is deployed as 10, centrally, just behind Suarez. That option would severely limit Messi’s freedom and make it easier for CDMs/CBs to box him in… but that is something to talk about if that formation is actually deployed frequently.
It’s important to make it clear that LIMA IS NOT A WINGER. He’s a creative left footed playmaker that thrives on counters, yet is able to hold his on and recycle position and combine with team mates instead of trying to dribble past 3 players and get dispossessed easily.
WAIT…. SO YOU PRAISED LIMA AND WON’T TALK ABOUT NEYMAR AND NEYMAR SR?!
You guys know me better than this by now.
Look, Lima is a good guy, as far as I know. Hasn’t been linked with lots of parties and marketing stunts here in Brazil. His playing style is very “European”, not really focusing on dribbling and hogging the limelight all to himself, and he’s able to show intelligence to combine with team mates often.
But… Lima’s agent is Neymar Sr, the “agent” responsible for the THIRTEEN CONTRACTS FCB signed to get Neymar, a deal so ill-conceived it led to TWO Fiscal cases in Spain and another one in Brazil.
Neymar Sr will obviously bite a hefty sum form the 5mi signing bonus Lima will get, and the FCB board, besides lacking the dignity to NOT DEAL with Neymar Sr ever again, could anger the Judges handling the fiscal cases about the Neymar Signing, and will definitely look into Lima’s signing as well.
On that note, Santos has already decided to notify FCB to FIFA, for contacting and reaching an agreement with Lima before it’s legal to do so. While Santos won’t easily find actual evidence FCB did so, Lima openly talking about his departure could make FIFA punish us.
MY FINAL VERDICT
I have nothing against Lima. He’s an intelligent player that does have the main skills to help us off the bench. However, Lima is not a star here in Brazil. The last two were Neymar and Gabriel Jesus, and Lima has always been miles behind either, even during his great 2015 season.
Being a good/great player in the Brazilian League nowadays means very little. The overall level is just too poor, and Lima should have gone to a smaller European team before making the move to the Camp Nou, for logic’s sake (just like Romário, Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho did). But none of them came as a free agent so, maybe… it’s a decent/safe bet.
The fact he’s coming as a free agent certainly makes his signing acceptable, but dealing with Neymar Sr again after OUR CLUB WAS CONVICTED FOR FISCAL FRAUD OVER THE NEYMAR SIGNING IS A DISGRACE FROM OUR BOARD.
But since I don’t expect better from them and they could have actually signed another Keirrison/Douglas… Lima is a fine, yet not really exciting, signing.