In 2011, Bryan Ruiz was one of the most in demand attacking midfielders in European football with Premier League clubs surely queuing up to sign him.
Newcastle United initially appeared to the favourites yet in the background, Fulham were also deep in negotiations with the Costa Rica international star about a possible move.
During a dramatic transfer deadline day that saw Raul Meireles join Liverpool from Chelsea and Per Mertesacker going to Arsenal, Ruiz made his entrance in London via helicopter before agreeing a deal to move from FC Twente to the Cottagers.
With supporters understandably excited, the play-maker made his debut against Blackburn Rovers before opening his account for his new club at the fifth time of asking, scoring in an away defeat at Everton. However, far from experiencing a barnstorming debut season in Premier League, Ruiz struggled to make the impact that the club were hoping to see from him as he only directly involved in six goals in 27 appearances.
Nevertheless, then-manager Martin Jol stuck by his man for the following campaign which paid off significantly as he made the adjustment to the pace of England’s top tier to score five goals and record nine assists as Fulham finished comfortably in mid-table.
When Ruiz curled home a spectacular goal against Cardiff City at the beginning of the 2013/14 season, fans of the Cottagers must have been thinking that he was about to embark on another fruitful run for their side.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t have been more wrong.
Following a lacklustre five months at Craven Cottage, he was loaned back to the Netherlands, joining Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven. Producing a number of stand-out performances for the Lampen, Ruiz proved that he still had a habit of producing the spectacular.
Back in London, Fulham’s dreadful campaign ended with relegation to the Championship yet despite a mass exodus of players, they decided to keep hold of the former FC Twente ace for one more season, hoping desperately that he could lead them to promotion at the first time of asking.
Unfortunately, this dream did not materialise as the Cottagers finished in an incredibly disappointing 17th position and with Ruiz in need of a fresh start, they let him leave for Portuguese giants Sporting CP in 2015.
In a successful three year stint at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, the midfielder won both the Taca da Liga and the Supertaca Candido de Oliveira, adding to his previous major honours earned in Holland and Costa Rica.
Last year saw Ruiz move to Brazil (the sixth country of which he has played in) as he joined Santos on a multi-season deal. During his debut season for the club, he featured in 14 games in all competitions. However, the fact that he has yet to score for the Peixe could illustrate that at the age of 33, Ruiz has finally lost his magic touch.
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