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News: Ricardo Lopes Leaves Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors for China

Ricardo Lopes leaves Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors for Shanghai SIPG

Brazilian winger Ricardo Lopes has transferred from K League 1 champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai SIPG in one of the more shocking moves of the 2020 winter transfer window.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors' Brazilian winger and fan-favourite Ricardo Lopes has completed his move to Chinese Super League side and fellow AFC Champions League competitors Shanghai SIPG for a figure reportedly estimated between $4-6 million.

The transfer sees Lopes call time on his four-year stint in Jeonju, and five years in the K League top flight having being acquired by Jeonbuk from Jeju United at the start of the 2016 season. The player was initially employed on the right-wing, mirroring his compatriot Leonardo on the left. His first season in green saw him make 35 league appearances and score 13 goals, earning him a place in the league's best eleven alongside Jeonbuk midfielders Leonardo and Lee Jae-sung.

However, his first season will be remembered for his contribution in helping drive Jeonbuk to the AFC Champions League title, scoring three times in twelve appearances in that's year's competition. However, the second leg of the final against Al Ain saw him removed from play three minutes in after a fall saw him land awkwardly and damage his ACL. He would be sidelined for seven months.

Ricardo Lopes in action against Al Ain in the AFC Champions League Final 2016.
Ricardo Lopes in action against Al Ain in the AFC Champions League Final 2016.


Returning midway through the 2017 season, Lopes still managed to make 22 appearances but a smaller return of four goals as he recovered from injury. However, Jeonbuk opted to renew the player's contract for the following three seasons and were rewarded with perhaps his most prolific campaign.

2018 saw the Brazilian form part of the most attack-minded sides in K League history, appearing 31 times in the league and scoring 13 once again. He also assisted six in the process. Furthermore, he bagged four in continental competition as Jeonbuk made it to the quarterfinals before losing on penalties to domestic rivals Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

Last season saw Jeonbuk come under new management yet Lopes found himself as one of the key figures to help the club through this transitional period. The winger made 36 appearances in the league, scoring eleven and assisting seven. He was perhaps less prolific in Asia, however, scoring just once in seven appearances but, given that Jeonbuk limped out in the Round of 16 to his new employers Shanghai SIPG, he was not entirely to blame.

Lopes' contribution will be measured in more than just statistics, however. On the field, his determination often dragged the club forward when they were flagging, with his drive sometimes leading to frustration and subsequent bookings. Yet, to have tried to have cut this element from his game would have been to neuter his performances, with his play often inspiring those around him and drawing deserved plaudits and adoration from the stands. In this respect, Jeonbuk will find him difficult to replace and presence sorely missed. He has become a figure engrained in the club's lore.

By joining Shanghai SIPG, Lopes may well be lining up against his side sooner rather than later, with his new employers set to feature in Jeonbuk's Champions League group after progressing past Buriram United in the playoffs.

Jeonbuk have already made moves to find his replacement, with the champions recently signing 25-year-old winger Brazilian Murilo Henrique.


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