Ribamar – A Diamond in the Rough for 1860

Ribamar – A Diamond in the Rough for 1860

Manuel Veth –

The German second Bundesliga club TSV 1860 Munich has frequently been in the news for its erratic leadership, and closely fought relegation battles (more about this here). Once again the new season has started with a bang, as the club fired sporting director Oliver Kreuzer and replaced him with Thomas Eichin.

The change in management was supposedly stipulated by the club’s powerful investor Hasan Ismaik, who promised that he would free up funds for major investments if the club positions key personalities of his liking in the top echelon of the club.

With Thomas Eichin as the new sporting director, and Kosta Runjaić, as the new manager, and it now seems that Ismaik is finally confident enough to free up funds for key investments.

Ribamar – A Key Investment

One of these investments will be the 19-year-old Brazilian striker Lucas Ribamar, who plays for the Rio de Janeiro based club Botafogo. Ismaik, who apparently got the tip to purchase the player from a player agent in London, has been the biggest advocate of the transfer.

Hasan Ismaik - Image via wikimedia

Hasan Ismaik – Image via wikimedia CC-BY-SA-4.0

Botafogo had already accepted a deal for €2.5 million from the Cypriote club Apollon Limassol, but the deal fell through, and subsequently the German club offered €2.5 million—gigantic sum for a team in the lower echelons of the second division—or the young talented striker, which would make the Brazilian the most expensive transfer in the history of 1860 Munich.

The transfer has since caused major debate in the Bavarian capital. On the one hand many fans are happy with the fact that Ismaik has finally agreed to open his wallet to make major investments in the squad. On the other hand there are doubts about whether investing €2.5 million in a relatively unknown Brazilian striker is the right move.

Ribamar is he Worth €2.5 Million?

The 1860 online magazine Die Blaue 24 spoke to 1860 Munich’s former Brazilian defender Rodrigo Costa. Asked about Ribamar Costa stated: “I have recently met Ribamar at a Nike event in Rio. He is not a typical Brazilian player. He runs a lot, is physically strong, and has a great body. Attributes that are more typical for German football. I was surprised that 1860 didn’t ask me about my opinion. I know the market in Brazil very well. If I would be honest: as a German club you don’t necessarily need to look for talented players in Brazil.”

Asked about the €2.5 million Costa stated: “That is madness. I would have never spent this much money. Of course Ribamar is still young, has potential, and is a great lad. But this is not without risk. Victor Andrade [who was loaned by 1860 from Benfica Lisbon] is a completely different calibre. Nonetheless, I wish for 1860 that Ribamar is the real deal, but I have my doubts. He wasn’t even a starter at Botafogo, and the club’s best time is long over.”

Botafogo's glory days are long gone - Image by Martins, Tito CC-BY-SA-3.0

Botafogo’s glory days are long gone – Image by Martins, Tito CC-BY-SA-3.0

Bayern Munich’s former striker Giovane Élber meanwhile called Ribamar “a diamond in the rough, who will bring great joy to 1860 fans.” At the same time Élber hopes that 1860 fans will be patient with the striker “as they should remember that he is just 19 and that he is moving to a new country for the first time in his life.”

Meanwhile the Brazilian football writer Paulo Freitas believes that €2.5 million is likely justified. “Yes, I think it’s okay for a player like him, he is not a super talent but €2.5 million is often used to sign worse players than him.” Asked about his talent Freitas told FutebolCidade: “He is okay, he had a great state league [Campeonato Carioca] but hasn’t been so good in the Brasileirão [the national league], his technique is decent, but his finishing is poor.”

Indeed Ribamar at times doesn’t yet appear to have the coolest finish in front of the net. Yet what stands out is his physical appearance in the penalty box, where he often is able to outmuscle his opponents to get into good finishing positions.

Ribamar has Strong Physical Attributes

At 184cm and 81 kg Ribamar can be an opposing figure, and plays not unlike 1. FSV Mainz’s Colombian striker Jhon Córdoba. But at the same time one goal in 12 games shows a lack of scoring touch. But Botafogo has scored just 16 goals in 14 games this season, which means that the young striker’s poor scoring record could be attributed to the lack of offensive support.

In the 2016 Rio State Championship Ribamar’s Botafogo reached the final, where they lost 2:1 (on aggregate) to city rivals Vasco da Gama. Ribamar was voted into the team of the tournament, and was voted as the young player of the season by Globo Esporte.

His performance in the Rio State Championship should give hope to 1860 fans that Ribamar could indeed flourish into a striker with the necessary attributes to succeed in Germany’s second division, and perhaps even the Bundesliga. The fact that the striker is already in great physical shape should help him with his transition to football in Germany.

Is 1860 Munich the Right Environment for Ribamar?

Yet major questions remain, as the Munich-based club is known for having political intrigues more akin to the television show House of Cards than a Bundesliga team. Hence, some newspapers in Munich have already stated that Ribamar’s transfer to Germany will be the first real test for 1860’s sporting director Thomas Eichin.

The Munich-based paper Merkur wrote that Eichin is now expected to show that he can fulfil the leadership role at the club. At the same time Ismaik also wants to see results for the money he has invested, as well as generate capital gains. Therefore Ismaik hopes that Ribamar will not only score goals for 1860 Munich, but also become a potential investment for the future.

Yet some whisper that Ribamar was mostly bought because of Ismaik, which already highlights that the striker could become a political problem in the future, because if he fails to score fans will soon identify him as the investor’s man. Meanwhile, the coaching staff could find itself under pressure to play Ismaik’s major investment.

There is no doubt that the player is talented, but as Élber pointed out the young Brazilian now needs an environment to grow. Whether 1860 can provide this environment is the real test.

Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist, and holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London. His thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States”, and will be available soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @homosovieticus