Lucas Perri – Player Profile

Lucas Estella Perri is a Brazilian goalkeeper who signed for Olympique Lyonnais for €3.25 million from Botafogo in the January 2024 transfer window. Having recently turned twenty-six, he arrived in Lyon to initially serve as a back-up for long-term custodian Anthony Lopes, replacing erstwhile reserve goalkeeper Rémy Riou, who moved on to Paris FC.

Born in Campinas, São Paulo state, Perri spent his early years in the youth setup of local clubs Ponte Preta and São Paulo, before graduating to the São Paulo first team squad aged seventeen in 2015. However, for the next couple of years he continued to feature primarily for the youth teams and his senior appearances were restricted to the relatively minor Copa Paulista.

He notably won the U-20 Copa Libertadores in 2016, keeping a clean sheet in the final, a 1-0 win against Liverpool of Montevideo at the Estadio Defensores del Chaco in Asunción, Paraguay. He earned his first cap for the Brazil U-20 team the same year, saving a penalty in a 2-1 victory over Uruguay.

A long wait for first team chances

In January 2019, by now aged twenty-one, Perri was loaned to Crystal Palace for a six month period, but he never made the first team squad for the Eagles and returned to São Paulo at the end of the season. A few months after his homecoming, in December 2019, he made his first, and indeed only, Série A appearance for São Paulo in their final game of the season, a 2-1 away win at Centro Sportivo Alagoano.

A frustrating couple of years followed, during which Perri was on the fringes of the first team squad and only made a handful of sporadic appearances. His path to the starting eleven remained resolutely blocked by first choice goalkeeper Tiago Volpi and it became clear that he needed to look elsewhere to gain experience.

Successful stint in Série B

Salvation came in the shape of a move to Náutico, based in Recife in Pernambuco state. Perri was immediately installed as first choice goalkeeper at the north-eastern club and he soon helped them triumph in the Campeonato Pernambucano. He made a telling contribution in the final against Retrô, saving two penalties in the 4-2 shoot-out victory following a 1-1 draw.

Náutico’s Série B campaign didn’t go quite so well. They were in the thick of a relegation battle and wins were few and far between, although Perri himself earned plaudits for his personal performances. That was despite only keeping three clean sheets in twenty-two matches and picking up the only red card of his career to date. He impressed enough to catch the eye of Rio de Janeiro’s Botafogo, competing in Série A, and they paid São Paulo around €350,000 to cancel his loan to Náutico and sign him permanently in August 2022.

Finally hitting the big time

Lucas Perri was part of the Botafogo squad for the last fifteen games of their 2022 Série A campaign, but he spent most of them on the bench as understudy to Paraguayan goalkeeper Gatito Fernández. However, he did make four appearances and managed to keep three clean sheets in them as Botafogo finished eleventh in the table.

2023 was to become his big breakthrough season. He took over as first choice ‘keeper during Botafogo’s Taça Guanabara campaign (the first stage of the Carioca championship) and never looked back. April brought some silverware in the form of the Taça Rio, and Perri was then ever-present in the 2023 edition of Série A as Botafogo set the early pace at the top of the table before fading to finish fifth. He also earned his first call-ups to the full Brazil squad in the second half of the year, as a third choice ‘keeper behind Ederson and Alisson.

Lopes’ long-term successor?

Perri has earned a reputation as something of a penalty saving specialist and is also known for occasionally distributing the ball up-field by punching it boxing style over an impressive distance. He has a big physical presence, standing almost half a foot taller than Anthony Lopes, and he exudes confidence.

As Botafogo and Lyon are both part of the Eagle Football Holdings multi-club ownership group headed by American businessman John Textor, it was no surprise that they opted to redeploy Lucas Perri to Lyon as soon as the January transfer window opened. He will provide some much needed competition to Lopes for the number one spot and, being seven years Lopes’ junior, will expect to inherit the shirt from him in the future.

The cut price €3.25 million fee that Lyon paid was well below Perri’s market value, which was estimated to be upwards of €8 million at the time. An arrangement over the fee is one of the advantages of buying from a partner club, but Botafogo do have a 50% sell-on clause in the contract, so they stand to benefit if he is successful at Lyon and moves on in a big money deal.