Brazilian midfielder Souza leaves Cerezo Osaka to join Saudi Arabian side Al-Ettifaq on a permanent deal, the club announced today.
Souza joined Cerezo Osaka in 2016, when Cerezo were still playing in the J2 League, firstly on loan from Cruzeiro. After he made a huge contribution to the team’s promotion to the J1 League, Cerezo reportedly paid R$2.5m to Cruzeiro to sign a permanent contract with him in 2017.
He gave us a strong impression in the J1 League too and has basically assumed a starting spot at Cerezo Osaka. But the last season was a difficult one for him as his distinct, aggressive playing style didn’t necessarily fit with manager Miguel Angel Lotina’s playing philosophy which put an emphasis on positioning. In addition, after Hotaru Yamaguchi left for Vissel Kobe, the club added three defensive midfielders to the squad, all of them were quite strong competitors to Souza (although it turned out that one of them, Hiroaki Okuno, mainly played in more forward position). He played only 19 games in the league last season, which was the least in 4 years. This probably made him consider leaving.
He is really an impressive player. According to Opta, he has the best rate of tackle success and shot on target from outside the box, which explain a lot about what kind of player he is. A specific play which can’t be forgot is his goal in the Levain Cup final in 2017, which helped the club win the first title in their histroy.
4 years are long. For him, it was the longest stay at one club in his career so far. So his message to the supporters is very emotional: “It is really heartbreaking to say goodbye to you and I already miss you everyone. To be honest, I didn’t want to leave the team but these things happen in the world of football. I am very sorry for not being able to help Cerezo this year. I’m sorry.”
“I learned a lot of things from everyone - Cerezo sponsors, supporters, my fans, players, team staff, and club staff in this 4 years!! I have nothing but gratitude!! Thank you for everything!! Thank you for 4 years!!” he said on the club’s official website.
This is exactly what the supporters also have in their minds right now. It is sad to see him go but in a sense, in the world of football as he said, it is also a happy thing that a player and supporters have the same feeling toward each other, especially considering that he is a foreign player who is often considered as a suketto (literally, a helper).