Cruzeiro’s left-footed attacking midfielder Éverton Ribeiro has impressed in the Brazilian national league this season, a key player as his team won the title several weeks before the end of the competition. The 24-year-old was named the best player in the league in 2013 by the Brazilian FA and his performances have since seen him linked with Manchester United, where the desire for a new midfielder has been well-documented.
Ribeiro started his career at Corinthians in 2005 and remained there until 2011, but could never establish himself at the first team and was loaned to São Caetano for two years within that period. His lack of success meant he never made it at Corinthians, and so had to try his luck elsewhere.
Coritiba signed him in 2011, and after a nondescript first season, Ribeiro shone in his second year at the club, helping them reach the Brazilian Cup final, where they were beaten by Palmeiras 3-1 on aggregate.
Move to Cruzeiro
Ribeiro was one of the best attacking midfielders in the Brazilian league that season and Cruzeiro’s new manager Marcelo Oliveira himself requested that he be signed, having previously brought him to Coritiba, where they worked together for the first time. Cruzeiro had to beat the competition of Santos to finally bring him for €1.2 million Euros. Both the manager and the midfielder were in similar situations as there were doubts over whether they could replicate their Coritiba success at a big team like Cruzeiro.
Ribeiro was originally a left-back but plays mainly as an attacking midfielder nowadays – although he is also fully capable of playing on both wings. However, he failed to establish himself as a left-back as he lacked the tactical discipline for the role and thus eventually moved to the midfield.
The Cruzeiro star is a fairly complete player as he has impressive technique and dribbling skills while also being more economical in possession than typical technically gifted Brazilian players. He is agile and quick, and his versatility allows him to play in different roles. He is also a good free kick taker.
There are, however, doubts if he could succeed at the world’s top teams. For a start, he has only recently established himself at a big Brazilian club, and is yet to prove himself at continental and international level. His only experience at Brazilian national team level was in 2009, when he played for the Under-20s in the South American Championship.
Ribeiro’s lack of international experience has not prevented him from attracting foreign interest: a club from the Middle East made an offer in July, but Cruzeiro decided to keep him. More recently, Ribeiro has been linked to Manchester United, following his comments on Brazilian TV that he would love to play for the Red Devils in the future.
The comment quickly led his agent to affirm that the midfielder would only leave Cruzeiro to play for a top European club, ruling out any chance of a move to alternate markets such as Eastern Europe, the Middle East and China.
A move to the English champions seems unlikely to happen though. Ribeiro lacks a second nationality and his lack of games for the Brazilian national team means he would struggle to get a work permit. His age also works against him – being 24 years old, without any caps, he is unlikely to be deemed an exceptional talent.
An additional problem that could prevent a transfer is that Cruzeiro are not willing to sell him before Copa Libertadores 2014 is over. His market value is likely to increase (or plummet) depending on his performances in the competition.
Everton Ribeiro also has a tiny hope of making it into Brazil’s World Cup squad as the Brazilian national team lack options in his position. His last chance will be in March, when Brazil play against South Africa, in what will be the last call up before the World Cup preliminary squad is announced.
As happened with Neymar and Bernard in recent years, a good performance in the Copa Libertadores will be the key for Éverton Ribeiro to fully establish himself as one of the best Brazilian players in his position. After that, we will know more about his true level.
(photo credit: Bahia Oficial via Flickr)