The final week of June has brought about the conclusion of Argyle’s senior player retentions, highlighted on Monday with the departure of 2018/2019 Player of the Season, Ruben Lameiras. Following an improved offer from the club, the Portuguese playmaker is heading home and has signed with top flight FC Famalicao.
The recently promoted side, situated a little north of Porto, have tied Lameiras down to a four year contract, beating off rumoured competition from a number of Championship clubs and an improved contract from the Pilgrims. This move follows the departure of fellow fan favourite Graham Carey, who also left for top flight football in mainland Europe.
Lameiras started his career in England at Tottenham, and following a loan spell to Swedish club Åtvidaberg, he moved to Tony Mowbray’s Coventry City in July 2015. Lameiras won the EFL Trophy in the 2016/2017 season with Coventry, featuring six times in the campaign and playing the full 90 in the final.
Following their relegation, Lameiras left Coventry in the summer of 2017 to join recently promoted Argyle. This window also saw the arrival of a number of recently departed Pilgrims including Jamie Ness and Ryan Edwards. However, during his first few months of that season, little did we know that Lameiras would become such an integral part of the team over the new two seasons.
Featuring on both flanks, and through the middle in a green shirt, Lameiras was best suited as an inside forward, forming a fantastic front three alongside Carey and Taylor. Lameiras’ skills revolved around his quick feet and his ability to drive at opponents. At his best, he was up there with the best in the division.
Lameiras scored league 17 goals in his time with the Pilgrims, while assisting another 18 in his 75 league appearances. His second season saw him contribute to 35% of all league goals scored by Argyle. There are some absolutely fantastic efforts in his catalogue and my pick of the bunch would be his final goal in this season’s home fixture against Oxford.
Lameiras seemed to start both of his seasons with the Pilgrims out of favour. Derek Adams opted for other players over Lameiras as Argyle began both of their League 1 campaigns poorly. Following Lameiras’ continued inclusion in the side around Christmas two years in a row, Argyle showed dramatic improvement and made their way back up the table.
Lameiras would spearhead a charge up the table in the 2017/2018 season, after forming a deadly partnership with Argyle’s other talismanic forward Graham Carey. With the two inside-forwards flanking Ryan Taylor and backed by a competent midfield trio, Argyle turned a relegation-bound campaign into a play-off push. Memorably, Lameiras return to the side came with a good performance in a 4-1 win against Oldham: a club who he had just weeks before had a trial at when he was unfancied by Adams. His spying ability must have been just as good as his playing ability: the win kickstarted our excellent run.
Argyle almost exactly mirrored the start of the previous season in 2018/2019. Lameiras returned to regular football around the Christmas period once again and whilst there was an initial huge improvement, Argyle failed to maintain their League 1 status. This led to the departure of Ruben Lameiras, a player who would be playing well below his level if he continued with the Pilgrims into the fourth tier. He’d probably have been below his level had he even stayed in the third. Despite the teams poor showing, Lameiras excelled. The playmaker won the clubs Player of the Season award, while also receiving our own nod for the best player in green in the season just passed.
My own personal favourite Lameiras moment followed his goal against Wimbledon in the 2017/2018 home fixture. Lameiras would celebrate his finish by imitating a notable opposition player’s previous celebration, standing in front of of the Devonport End, arms crossed, the last laugh his to enjoy.
The loss of such a quality player is going to hurt, regardless of how little faith we really had in re-signing him. Despite only spending two years as a Pilgrim, Ruben Lameiras will go down as one of the most talented players in the post-administration era and I think I speak on behalf of the Green Army when I thank him for his service and wish him well in the rest of his career.
Once a green, always a green. If Graham Carey was the man to make Argyle fans realise football was beautiful again, Ruben Lameiras made us realise such beauty wasn’t restricted to one canvas alone. That they depart in the same summer symbolises a sad end of an era.
While I would rather see them in green shirts this season, I’m glad Ruben Lameiras and Graham Carey have taken their football overseas, as opposed to plying their trade elsewhere in England. I don’t think I could face seeing them lining up and firing in goals against us. Anyway, with no senior players left to re-sign, Ryan Lowe and the players returning for pre-season in a week, and no new signings at the time of writing, I expect it to be a busy seven days.