Forget year of the snake, it’s the year of Bryan. Bryan Jafet Ruiz González or just Bryan as it states on his kit is entering the third season of his contract at Fulham Football Club. If you were to rate players on how much they divide supporter’s opinion on players, Ruiz would finish just behind Senderos and Berbatov. Brought in from FC Twente, via Gent and recent opponents L.D. Alajuelense, there were very high hopes for the Costa Rican, having had a good career in Holland. It is coming on three years after former Chairman Mo Al Fayed parted with a large sum of money that ventured into Marlet territory, with various numbers bandied about by the papers. As always Fulham announced the transfer as undisclosed so the exact amount is unknown. The first of Bryan’s years here could be described as very unpolished. You could clearly see the talent he had in glimpses with a bit of skill here an amazing pass there or two outrageous chipped goals to mark the arrival of his scoring boots. It took a little while and it looked like a star was emerging by the Thames, but April of that year saw Ruiz injured away at Bolton. It was an abrupt end to a season that threatened to spark into life. The second season Bryan produced another mixed bag of results. However some of these cannot be placed on one player, let alone the team. Having trained more it looked as Ruiz had put on some more mass in order to cope with the more physical English League, whereas he had free reign of scoring areas in Holland, defenders in England aren’t so keen to allow that. Ruiz was ever present in Fulham’s first team this season. Once again he showed immeasurable skill and contributed to his team’s cause with 5 goals and 7 assists. Rather impressive considering the fact that he was shuffled about Fulham’s midfield like a hot potato. He played every position across the top aside from the left and even played two (?) matches in central midfield in a failed Dembele type experiment. While the two players are very similar in the technical aspect, Ruiz does not have the physical prowess to dribble and hold off opposition like Dembele did. (Side note, the Author does not believe Dembele would have been remembered as fondly as he is now if he was never moved to midfield. Ruiz’ and Dembele’s scoring record is very similar in the forward position) Ruiz’ second season also saw the arrival of a certain Bulgarian by the name of Dimitar Berbatov. It was proven time and time again during this season that both of these players would start regardless of output. After all, one was a high priced signing and the other probably wouldn’t have arrived without the current manager and a guarantee of match time. Some would argue that both of these players cannot function in the same match day team. The two players can and do function well together, this is not the issue. The issue with these players is a lack of service. During both months long rough patches of this season the highest attacking player was neither of these. Often times our forward players had to venture into the heart of midfield to receive the ball, which does not make attacking, or counter attacking for that matter an easy task at all. This makes it all the more impressive that Ruiz was Fulham’s joint top rated player alongside Dimitar Berbatov, based on Opta Stats. Production wise that season Bryan averaged 45.8 passes a match, completing 84.8 percent of these. Key passes in the final third came 1.7 times a match, while he was fouled in the same number. Being ever so consistent his tackles averaged 1.7 as well. A better service from deeper in the midfield should help his offensive output this season. This upcoming season could very well be the season Ruiz wins over those who doubt his purpose at Fulham. A preseason tour of Costa Rica geared very much toward his star in his homeland could do nothing but boost his confidence regardless of his output. There is nothing better to go to your backyard and play in front of those who first saw your career take off. Ruiz definitely made a statement in his homeland, being very much involved in the action. Scoring 3 in 3 and assisting others he looked lively throughout the tour. A well taken volley and a brilliant dummy, fooling both the defender flying in and the keeper were highlights of his tour. While the opposition wasn’t up to the English League’s standard it was a very good test for the squad as a whole. It was good to see David, Kasami and Mesca given chances and the return of Ashkan Dejagah. He still has a lot to prove in the upcoming matches versus Parma, Werder Bremen and Real Betis. Expect to see him get as much time on the pitch as Jol begins to solidify his first team for the coming season. Where will he play? Expect it to be just behind Berbatov, as it was last season. Kasami played well in this position, but not well enough to depose Ruiz in Jol’s order. Though there is a possibility he could be tried out on the wing, looking good there in preseason, even though this provided mixed results during last season. Ruiz has what it takes to be a professional footballer at this level. He has the range of passing, a whole bag of tricks, a wonderful free kick and decent pace and while his finishing last season wasn’t the greatest, when he did finish it was classy. Confidence is everything in the profession of a footballer and it looks like Ruiz is full of it. All of his past experiences in the various leagues and his venture into the English League look to come together , and barring injury this could be a very, very good year for Ruiz. However if footballing doesn’t work Bryan could always push some high priced salons newest shampoo, he certainly has the looks for it.