Brazilian midfielder Thiago Mendes is Olympique Lyonnais' third recruit for this summer 2019 transfer window, signing a four-year deal worth €26.5m.
Thiago Mendes, 27, signed for Olympique Lyonnais on Wednesday after having already played two seasons in Ligue 1 Conforama for LOSC. The Brazilian midfielder was a key figure in Les Dogues' line-up, making 66 Ligue 1 Conforama matches (three goals) and contributing impressively to Lille's success last season (2nd).
Thiago Mendes: 'Win titles'
"I am very happy to be a Gone. I hope to bring a lot of joy to this club," Mendes explained in Portuguese. "Lyon are one of the best teams in Europe. [OL legend and sporting director] Juninho and [OL coach] Sylvinho influenced my decision and that of my family. I was convinced by their project. I play where I'm told to play. I'm here to work and of course to win titles."
The day after Tanguy Ndombele's departure for Tottenham Hotspur FC on a club-record €60m transfer was announced, OL moved quickly to find his replacement. Mendes is the club's third recruit of the summer, following the arrivals of Ciprian Tatarusanu (FC Nantes) and Jean Lucas (Flamengo) earlier in the transfer window.
Aulas teases Koné arrival
"This was the first deal that Juninho and Sylvinho wanted to make, and it had been anticipated by Florian Maurice, who had been telling me about Mendes for two years!" explained club president Jean-Michel Aulas, who is also hoping to secure the arrival of Malian defender Youssouf Koné - also from LOSC - once the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt is over. "This is a considerable financial operation for OL, up to €26.5 million, including bonuses. Mendes signed four years. Koné is €9 million with no bonus, but with a percentage of a possible resale."
Thiago Mendes came up through the academy at Goias (Brazil) and joined the senior team there (2011-2014), before signing for Sao Paulo FC (2014-2017) and then trying his luck in Europe, with LOSC (2017-2019). The Brazilian will now get his first taste of Champions League football, Lyon having qualified directly for the competition's group stage - as did LOSC.
Juninho's vision taking shape
"He has an incredible work rate and he knows Ligue 1 Conforama well because he has been here for two years. He was exactly what we were looking for. It was [OL chief scout] Florian Maurice who mentioned his name, he had been following him for a long time," explained Juninho. "I hope that he will adapt quickly. His strength is his versatility. In a 4-3-3, he can play anywhere cross the midfield. It was necessary to work quickly on this deal because many other clubs were interested. It was important to have him available as soon as pre-season starts - which is on Thursday."
Coincidentally, it was at Groupama Stadium that Mendes scored his last goal in Ligue 1 Conforama - and perhaps his next, now that he has become a Gone.