AGONA Profile: Ruben Semedo, the troubled defender hoping to get back on track
Last week, Olympiacos increased their defensive options, signing Ruben Semedo on a permanent transfer from Villarreal. The AGONA Profile analyses his eventful career to date.
Semedo doesn’t often keep out of the headlines. In January 2018, he stood trial for allegedly brandishing smashing a glass bottle over a man’s head, before he was subsequently sent to prison for his involvement in a violent kidnapping. Semedo remained in prison between February and May of the same year before he paid bail of 30,000 euros.
Nevertheless, if we move away from his legal issues, Semedo is a talented Portuguese centre-back full of potential. Olympiacos paid Villarreal 4.5 million in order to sign the 25-year-old, who subsequently penned a four-year deal with the Erythrolefki.
PROGRESSION AT SPORTING, LOAN TO REUS
Initially, a young Semedo began playing the sport with Sacavenense and Benfica, but he transferred to Sporting Lisbon in 2010 where he stayed for seven years.
Semedo received his maiden opportunity with the Sporting B team in the 2013/2014 season. In that particular campaign, the defender scored one goal in 23 games, while he was also on the bench for a number of the senior team’s games in the Liga NOS.
In the ensuing summer, Sporting decided to send Semedo out on loan for him to gain more first team minutes, with the player temporarily transferring to Reus in Spain.
Semedo would play in 16 games for Reus in the Spanish lower leagues before returning to Sporting upon the completion of the 2014/2015 season.
CHANCE WITH THE SPORTING FIRST TEAM
For the first half of the 2015/2016 campaign, Semedo played on loan at Vitoria Setubal, but Sporting recalled him to Lisbon midway through the season after the club had experienced a large shortage of defenders.
He immediately became a key player in the Sporting defence. On a regular basis, Semedo was included in the Sporting starting line-up, competing in 14 matches in the domestic championship. Sporting finished in second place behind champions Benfica to claim a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
Semedo continued his progression in the next season, and in July of 2017, Villarreal persuaded Sporting to sell the talented defender by coughing up 14 million. “He is one of the most promising centre-backs in European football,” read the Villarreal statement. “He is a defender with lots of promise, who has a strong physicality, who is quick at cutting the ball out and who is strong in the air.”
To put it lightly, Semedo endured an absolute nightmare with Villarreal. In late September, Semedo was dropped by newly installed head coach Javi Calleja after some shaky showings, and he then received an injury which required surgery in December.
And then came his infamous encounters with the police.
Following 142 days in Picassent Prison, SC Huesca decided to give Semedo a chance to get his flailing career back on track, signing him on loan from Villarreal for the 2018/2019 season.
SURPLUS TO REQUIREMENTS AT HUESCA, LOAN TO RIO AVE
Unfortunately for Semedo, he didn’t have a great experience at Huesca either, as he was deemed surplus to requirements by Huesca after playing in just 11 La Liga matches. His loan was cancelled in January and Villarreal offloaded him as a loanee to Rio Ave in his native Portugal.
To his credit, Semedo managed to get back on the straight and narrow in the Portuguese championship. In 14 Liga NOS appearances, he popped up with two goals for fifth-placed Rio Ave.
CHANCE FOR A TURNAROUND IN PIRAEUS
His Olympiacos transfer represents an ideal opportunity for Semedo to prove himself at the highest level, especially with the Erythrolefki participating in the UEFA Champions League. The fact Pedro Martins, a fellow Portuguese national, is the head coach should assist him in his quest to finally discover stability. Semedo is also good friends with gifted winger Daniel Podence.
Semedo, a defender blessed with pace and excellent ability in the air, will compete with Yassine Meriah, Jagos Vukovic, Ousseynou Ba and Pape Abou Cisse for a place in the centre of the Olympiacos defence.