Hoffenheim’s rich tradition of housing talented Brazilians continues with the signing of Lucas Ribeiro from Salvador-based outfit EC Vitoria, the 20-year-old following countrymen Roberto Firmino, Luiz Gustavo, Carlos Eduardo and new teammate Joelinton to the club. The path from Brazil to Sinsheim is well trodden and has proved highly successful; a trend both Hoffenheim and Ribeiro plan to continue.
bundesliga.com looks at the latest Brazilian prodigy walking through the Hoffenheim front door.
Country: Brazil (U20)
Born in Salvador, the capital of Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia, Lucas Ribeiro dos Santos joined Vitoria as a 16-year-old before making his first-team breakthrough at the club in 2018. In an ultimately disappointing campaign for Vitoria that saw them relegated from Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A, the 6’2” centre-half was one of few reasons to cheer for the Barra’s Lions.
Ribeiro’s first-team emergence came in the second-half of Vitoria’s season with the club already firmly nestled in the relegation zone and shipping 40 goals in their opening 20 fixtures a real cause for concern. A narrow defeat to third-placed Flamengo on debut was followed by immediate improvement as the youngster helped his team to a four-match unbeaten run (W3, D1) that also delivered four clean sheets.
It was quite the start and Ribeiro would go on to feature in 16 of the final 19 games of the season for Vitoria and pick up the club’s Player of the Year award despite their relegation. He would contribute two more shutouts to the cause and would be recognised for his club form by earning his debut for Brazil U20s in October the same year.
Plays a bit like: Lucio
A Brazilian centre-back with great technique and vision, strong in the tackle and comfortable on the ball. Sound familiar? It will do to Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich fans, with Ribeiro bearing more than a striking resemblance to Bundesliga and Brazil legend Lucio.
A veteran of 236 Bundesliga matches, 105 Brazil caps, three Bundesliga titles and a trio of DFB-Cups: it will take some doing for Ribeiro to emulate Lucio. However, a successful pass completion rate of 87.1 per cent in his maiden season, paired with his love for the tackle and the fruitful soil of Hoffenheim’s Brazilian breeding ground suggest Ribeiro has all the tools at his disposal to do just that.
Did you know?
Ribeiro is the 15th Brazilian to sign for Hoffenheim, making the country the club’s greatest supplier of foreign imports. Firmino’s 153 appearances for Hoffenheim are the most by a Brazilian, as are his 49 goals for TSG. While that goal record will be given greater challenge by Joelinton, Ribeiro’s long-term contract until the summer of 2023 gives him plenty of time to test those appearance numbers. The defender will link up with his new teammates in February, following the end of the U20 South American Championships.
What they’re saying
“We’re not only thinking about our current squad, but also planning for tomorrow. He’s an exciting talent, who we want to develop.” - Hoffenheim sporting director, Alexander Rosen