Valletta and Ricardo go separate ways
Brazilian defender Ricardo has played his last game for Valletta after terminating his contract with the BOV Premier League club by mutual agreement.
After joining the Citizens in the close season, Ricardo, the son of former Brazil international Ricar-do Rocha, established himself as a first-choice defender under Mark Miller but, with the January transfer window around the cor-ner, the two parties have decided to go separate ways.
The arrival of defender Luke Dimech, who has rejoined Valletta on loan from Mosta, is likely to have played a role in the decision to release Ricardo who is believed to have had some contractual issues with the club.
Ricardo, 26, is currently re-covering from an injury.
Valletta have been looking at ways to refresh their squad as they look to turn their season around, having taken only one win in their last eight league games.
Miller was particularly keen on strengthening his defence as Valletta have looked vulnerable at the back this season.
Belgian defender Jason Lee Vandelannoite, formerly of Hibs, joined the Whites last month while Dimech’s deal was finalised last week.
News that Valletta have re-signed Dimech hasn’t gone down well with a section of their fans, in light of his acrimonious exit from the club over two years ago. However, that didn’t deter the Malta defender from accepting the Whites’ offer to return.
Valletta have now called a rally for their fans on January 3 during which president Victor Sciriha is expected to explain the club’s decision to go for Dimech.
Both Vandelannoite and Dimech are expected to make their first showing in the clash with Hiber-nians, the current Premier League leaders, on January 5.
Meanwhile, the champions are expected to make more signings in the coming weeks.
Demba Toure, a Senegalese striker who began his professional career with Lyon, is due to arrive in the next couple of days for talks with Valletta whose on-going attempts to sign more foreigners raise questions about the future of the other Brazilians in the team, especially striker Leandro and midfielder Gabriel.
There have also been widespread rumours that Valletta may make a bid to sign Brazilian playmaker Pedrinho from Balzan.
This week, Valletta will take part in the third edition of the Gozo Cup.
Tomorrow, the Citizens play Mosta at the Gozo Stadium while a Gozo selection take on Italian team Cilento.
The final and third-place play-off will take place on Sunday.
Mosta, who have agreed a player-exchange deal with the Whites over Dimech’s move, are resigned to losing Nigerian Obinna Obiefule who is the subject of interest from clubs in China and Israel.
Winger Ousseni Zongo has left Mosta to return to Portugal.
Elsewhere, Tarxien Rainbows are hopeful of replacing striker Danilo and midfielder Luiz Romulo De Castro, both Brazilians, with two new foreigners in the first weeks of January.
Tarxien have parted with De Castro after he failed to impress this season while Danilo has reached an agreement to end his contract with the club as he wants to return to his home country.
Tarxien, fourth in the Premier League, are looking at the Brazilian market to replace the departed duo.