When Fulham signed Bryan Ruiz in August 2011, the transfer raised a few eyebrows. The Costa Rican attacker’s reputation was sky high after impressive performances played a considerable part in leading Twente to their first-ever Eredivisie title. Now, after two-and-a-half years in England, Ruiz looks set to leave Craven Cottage having not lived up to his potential.
The skillful attacker followed in the footsteps of his famous countryman Paulo Wanchope in playing in the English top flight, becoming only the third-ever Costa Rican to step out in the Premier League.
However, despite glimpses of just what he is capable of on occasion, standout performances have been too few and far between. Fulham have revealed that Ruiz has been granted permission to speak to other clubs, in what looks like the beginning of the end of his English adventure.
After rising to prominence in his homeland with Deportiva Alajuelense, Ruiz moved to Europe in 2006 to join Belgian side Gent. Over the course of three seasons at the Ghelamco Arena, Ruiz went from a prospect with talent to a talisman for the team. He scored consistently for the club and was captain of the side before departing in the summer of 2009.
Ruiz will look back at his two seasons at Twente with fondness, as he became an instant hit in the Netherlands in a young team full of ability. In his debut campaign with the Enschede outfit, the Costa Rican netted 24 goals in 34 games to see Steve McClaren’s men win the league title.
The following campaign Twente finished as runners-up, with injuries taking their toll and Ruiz not managing as many appearances for the side.
Before his move to Fulham, countless top clubs were linked with a move for Ruiz, who was adjudged as one of the brightest talents in Dutch football. His ability on the ball, vision and creativity were key attributes in Twente’s title success, but he also proved he could score regularly with a run of ten consecutive games where he hit the back of the net.
It is fair to say that Ruiz has not adjusted to life in England, and has struggled for consistency in a transitional Fulham outfit. Last season he was given the opportunity to start 26 Premier League matches, but has been guilty of drifting in and out of the game and struggling to make his mark on the team they way he did at Gent and Twente.
With only eight starts this season, new manager René Meulensteen has admitted that Ruiz is likely to go on loan in January, with Spanish side Real Betis the favourites for his capture. In the long run, just how much of the €12 million the Cottagers shelled out for the Costa Rican they will receive back remains to be seen.
Although virtually guaranteed a place in his national side even if he is not playing at club level, Ruiz will hope to get consistent first-team football over the second half of the season ahead of the summer’s World Cup.
Undoubtedly a talent, the English public has not seen the best out of Ruiz and may well never get to appreciate his full ability if the switch to Spain materialises.
The Costa Rican needs a change of scenery to reinvigorate his career, with his eventual new club picking up a real star who has suffered a dip in form.