(Reuters) – Costa Rica skipper Bryan Ruiz has left troubled Portuguese club Sporting to sign for Santos and begin a new chapter in his career, the Brazilian team announced on Wednesday.
“A new challenge in my career,” the attacking midfielder wrote on twitter. “Very happy and proud to have arrived at a great club @SantosFC. A big hello to all the club’s fans.”
Neither Ruiz nor Santos gave any details about the deal but local media said the 32-year old former Fulham and PSV Eindhoven player, who was a free agent, had signed a two-year contract.
Nine Sporting players quit the Lisbon club last month after an attack in May on a training camp by hooded supporters, some armed with sticks, in which Dutch forward Bas Dost was injured and the dressing room was vandalised.
The incidents came at the end of a tumultuous campaign for Sporting who finished third in the Primeira Liga and reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Sporting members overwhelmingly voted last month to remove president Bruno de Carvalho, whom the nine players had blamed for stoking anger among fans with his public rebuke of the team over their performance last season.
Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes rejoined the club on Tuesday, saying he believed it had a more stable future. Fernandes did not rule out that other players may return to Sporting, but said he could only speak for himself.
Most have already been signed by other clubs, including Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio, now with Wolverhampton Wanderers of the English Premier League.
Dost also quit the club, as did Argentina midfielder Rodrigo Battaglia and Portuguese players Daniel Podence, Gelson Martins, William Carvalho, Rafael Leao and Ruben Ribeiro.
Ruiz, who played 81 league games for Sporting and scored 12 goals, featured in all of Costa Rica’s group matches at the World Cup in Russia where they finished bottom with one point.
He has 112 caps and has scored 24 goals for his country.