Is Lokeren’s Junior Dutra ready to shine?

Will Sergio Dutra Junior, or simply Dutra, from Lokeren be the next big thing in the Jupiler Pro League? Lokeren bought the Brazilian attacking midfielder in January from J-League outfit Kashima Antlers. The 24-year old football player went from Brazil to Kyoto Sanga in Japan before his big move after two seasons.  While most, though not all South American players (Hulk at Porto springs to mind) choose to pick a team in Europe to launch their career but Dutra opted to go elsewhere.

Dutra’s impressive form in Kyoto earned him a move to Kashima Antlers, one of the biggest clubs in Japan. Last season he was a key player, scoring eight times in 27 games from midfield and so attracted interest from his native Brazil. At the beginning of the negotiations it looked that Kashima Antlers were asking to much money for their Brazilian talent. Lokeren’s sporting director Willy Reynders had liked what he had seen of Dutra on DVD and after also gaining the approval of head coach Peter Maes, decided to pounce. As it turned out, Lokeren were able to sign him on a free as the player’s contract was coming to an end and an old contact was also on hand to facilitate what the club saw as a real coup.

Photo credits: Facebook fan page Sergio Dutra Junior

Dutra will be hoping to emulate the impact of teammate Ayanda Patosi in the Pro League. (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Lokeren already showed that it is possible to attract good and talented players for little money. Patosi, the South-African winger, was also bought after Reynders saw a DVD of the talented youngster. We all know how things worked out for Patosi, young but promising and somebody with a bright future. Most of the people also think that Dutra has a future in Lokeren and probably even more then that.

Reynders was particularly satisfied with the capture of Dutra as under normal circumstances, such a player would be out of Lokeren’s reach. He can play upfront, behind the striker or on the left flank ; at Lokeren he operates out wide in support of Harbaoui with Ivan Leko or Milos Maric invariably playing centrally in front of Koen Persoons and Killian Overmeire. Dutra admitted he had never played in such cold temperatures before but his ability to speak English has helped him to settle in Belgium.

Dutra is a very fast player who combines technique with a very hard shot. He already showed in his first appearances that he likes to dribble past opponents and he also likes to run in behind the defence.  Under Peter Maes he will learn to adapt to the team around him and now try to shoulder too much of the attacking burden, as well as not neglecting his defensive duties, something Maes will insist upon.

The fans of Lokeren are all hoping that Dutra will become as successful as his compratiot Joao Carlos, who plays now for Anzhi Makhachkala.  Brazilians and the Jupiler Pro League are not really a good marriage but Joao Carlos showed that with the good spirit everything is possible. In four years at Lokeren, he was a towering presence at the back before moving on to Racing Genk, where he confirmed his ability as one of the best defenders in Belgium.

I am sure that Dutra will be a star next season in the Jupiler Pro League. If Lokeren can manage to keep Dutra, Patosi and Harbaoui next season they will certainly be again a contender for one of the last Play Off I tickets. However, it would not surprise me if all three would play somewhere else next season. Chairman Roger Lambrecht and Maes will have a tough summer to keep their talents at Daknam.

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