The Cape Verdean Zé Luís may very well be Spartak Moscow’s marque signing for the 2015/16 season. Despite moving into a new facility built at the former Tushino Airfield, Spartak’s 2014/15 season will go down as one of the most chaotic in recent history. Not only did the club fail to qualify for European football, but owner Leonid Fedun also stepped down from his role as chairman of the club.
Fedun, who has owned the club since 2004, stated that it was time “to give authority to professionals, who may be more successful and competent in leading the people’s team to titles.”
While Fedun has stepped down as chairman, it appears that he has remained the major investor of the club, and as was widely expected, is now letting football professionals run the club. Spartak has, for example, hired Dmitriy Alenichev as the replacement for the Swiss coach Murat Yakin, and Sergey Rodionov as director. Both have played for Spartak in the past, and are now expected to fix the club, by introducing structural reforms, and thereby ending an era of overpaying players, and employing a squad that is largely represented by a single agent.
Zé Luís, whose full name is José Luís Mendes Andrade, is now supposed to be a major factor in the rebuilding process at Spartak. Asked whether Spartak’s reliance on youth players could be damaging to the club’s ambitions this year, Fedun responded in an interview with Sport-Express by saying “That is why we bought Zé Luís.”
Yet there are major question marks following Ze Luís’ transfer from Sporting Club Braga to Spartak Moscow. First of all, this was an expensive transfer: Spartak reportedly paid €6.5 million, a decent sum for the Cap Verdean striker who, according to Transfermarkt.de, was valued at €1.5 million.
Second, as is almost always the case in Portuguese football, there are questions regarding the actual ownership of the player’s contract. SC Braga has been identified by the Guardian as one of many partner clubs that are used by the powerful player agent Jorge Mendes in order to develop footballers and then to sell them at a profit.
The large outlay for this transfer supports this argument, as does the fact that Braga originally demanded €10 million from Spartak for the services of the player. Although Zé Luís is represented by an agency called Goldfoot Inernacional, which has several Cap Verdean players in its portfolio, after the transfer was made public, Braga issued the following statement “we have reached an agreement with Spartak Moscow for the final transfer of 100 per cent of Zé Luís’s economic rights to the Russian club.”
This confirms that Braga was in full control of the transfer of Zé Luís, and that Spartak now holds 100% of the player’s rights. Fedun has pointed out that this may very well be Spartak’s one high calibre transfer from abroad this season as the club wants to focus more on players from its own academy.
As a young striker with the potential to grow his market value Zé Luís seems to fit in well with the club’s new strategy, as according to Whoscored.com he scored eight goals in 14 matches last season, and it is reasonable to expect that he can maintain this level, as the quality of play in the Russian Premier League is quite similar to that in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. Zé Luís, therefore, could be an important puzzle piece for Alenichev and Rodionov in their effort to restore Spartak to its former glory.