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Transfer Profile: Anderson Lopes

In an offseason marked more by big name departures, FC Seoul's recent addition, Anderson Lopes, has somewhat gone under the radar. To get a better sense of the attacking reinforcement brought in to replace the likes of Dejan and Yun Illok, we spoke with Football Radar's Sam Robson about the Brazilian forward's time in J.League. 
(image via avassessoria.com)

Lopes comes to K League after a year and a half stint across the East Sea with J1 side Sanfrecce Hiroshima. During his time there he made 39 appearances, logging over 3,000 minutes and bagging 12 goals; 10 of which came during the 2017 campaign. At just 24-years-old, Lopes is just entering the prime years of his career, and FC Seoul is hoping those will be prosperous years indeed.

How was he viewed at Sanfrecce Hiroshima? League wide?

Anderson Lopes’ time in Japan will most likely be viewed with indifference. On occasion he showcased glimpses of the quality which lead Sanfrecce Hiroshima to bring him to Japan on an 18 month loan deal from Brazilian side Tombese, however a combination of factors ensured his potential was never fully realised at the three time J.League champions. Lopes arrived from Brazil as a winger, but was shoehorned into an attacking midfield role by then manager Hajime Moriyasu who refused to move away from his trusted 3-6-1 formation. A struggle to both adapt to the country and position, as well as an ill-timed hamstring injury meant for a fairly underwhelming first six months in Japan. A knee injury at the start of the 2017 campaign further hindered his progress, and when he did return, again in the attacking midfield role, his lack of guile and inability to unlock defences was continually exposed. A change of manager in July, and with it a change of system, allowed Anderson Lopes to flourish more as first a right winger, and then latterly as a striker. These positions made greater use of his physical attributes, and his improved performances played a key role in ensuring Sanfrecce Hiroshima eventually steered clear of relegation.

Strongest aspects of his game?

Lopes is a physically imposing winger, possessing decent pace and enough strength to hold off defenders. These characteristics also lended themselves well to his role as more of a target man in the final few games of the 2017 season. His shooting is not necessarily consistent in its accuracy, but he has the ability to rifle the ball into the back of the net.

Weaknesses?

Technical deficiencies in Lopes’ game were highlighted throughout his career in Japan, especially in the attacking midfield role. Neat through passes and the sort of touch play which characterises a typical Japanese attacking midfielder, were not really in Lopes’ repertoire. Also, and while not completely his fault he was often found to be on a different wavelength to many of his team-mates, perhaps highlighting a communication issue.

Reason for leaving?

Several factors contributed to Anderson Lopes’ stay in Hiroshima coming to an end ahead of this season. Firstly his loan deal expired, but even so I do not get the sense that either party was too keen on extending the deal. For the club, Hiroshima have hired a new manager in Hiroshi Jofoku, who understandably will have wanted to bring his own players in and establish his own style. While for Anderson Lopes himself, FC Seoul arguably represents a much more appetising challenge. When he joined Sanfrecce in July 2016, they were reigning J.League Champions, and had won the league three times in the previous four seasons. When he left, they had just finished in 15th placed and only avoided relegation by a single point. The club is not on a great trajectory and it is easy to see why Anderson Lopes may not have wished to be a part of it

Where do you think he would be best utilized with FC Seoul?

FC Seoul would in my opinion be best off using him from a right wing berth, giving him license to drift infield, have efforts on goal and generally be involved at the business end of an attacking move, rather than relying on him to be the creative hub of the team.

What should K League fans expect from him?

In all honesty, not much too soon. He took a long time to properly settle in Japan roughly a year before we saw anything close to his best performances. He worked best when playing alongside compatriots Patric and Felipe Silva, as he could more easily forge an understanding with them, so an early partnership with fellow new signing Evandro could be one way to get the best out of him.

Best moment in J.League?

His best performance in the J.League came in a 45 minute second half cameo in July 2017. Unfortunately this was in a losing effort, but with Sanfrecce 2-0 down at half time, he was brought on to galvanise the side. This worked as he scored two goals and was generally superb as Sanfrecce took a 3-2 lead. Sadly for him and Sanfrecce, they were undone by the Goal of the Season from Takahiro Sekine in added time, and lost the game 4-3.

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