Santos playmaker Lucas Lima has reportedly signed for Barcelona in a five-year deal set to start in 2018. Lima’s current contract runs out on December 31, but he was allowed to start speaking to other clubs starting on July 1. Lima is alleged to have announced the news during a poker game last week, but has got himself and his potential new club in hot water with Santos now looking to report Barcelona to FIFA for tapping up their biggest star, as the Spanish side has previous experience with breaking transfer regulations.
Lima’s agent has tried his hardest to play down the story, reiterating time and time again that no deal with Barcelona has been made. He further added that he is flying to Italy next week to start discussions with a high profile club about a transfer to Serie A—likely Inter Milan, the club his old teammate Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa transferred to last season. Gabigol has struggled with his time in Italy so far, but maybe signing an old friend and a player he has a telepathic understanding with will get the best out of him.
Lucas Lima has been a star performer for Santos after his €1.26million move from Internacional in 2014. Floating around between the halfway line and the penalty area, he rarely breaks into the box, preferring instead to play defence while splitting passes and controlling the last third of the pitch. As one of the most highly paid players in Brazil, he’s been courted by European teams for a couple of seasons, but has never been tempted to move to Europe for the sake of moving. Resisting big money offers from China, he’s clearly a player looking to make the best of his career instead of a quick buck. Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace were heavily linked with him last season, making several offers to bring him across to the Premier League.
Lucas Lima has built up a good friendship with Neymar whilst playing for Brazil and it’s telling how Brazil’s fortunes have changed since he was introduced to the team. It’s been said that Neymar requested Barcelona make a move for his compatriot, with some saying he’s gone as far as to demand Barca get him. Neymar has laughed off such reports, but it would undoubtedly be good for Barcelona to unite two players who seem to have hit it off so well both on and off the pitch.
We await an official announcement shortly, but two things are very clear—Lucas Lima is on his way out of Brazil, and whoever gets him will have a serious talent on their hands.