Reigning Thai League champions Chiangrai United have sealed a deal to sign former Buriram United and Muangthong striker Jaja Coelho
Chiangrai United have finally made a move this summer to complete their foreign player quota, and have chosen to sign Brazilian target-man Jaja Coelho, formerly of Buriram United and Muangthong.
The 35-year-old striker is expected to replace Mailson in the Northerners’ squad, meaning that he will rather curiously partner with Bill Rosimar, another target-man in his mid-30’s.
Jaja first arrived in Thailand back in 2017, when he signed for Buriram United on loan from Belgian Pro League side Sporting Lokeren. Jaja had been a regular in Belgium the year prior, but his promising career in Europe was cut short due to injury concerns.
However, it was clear that the striker was a cut above most of the others in the Thai League. Partnering with Buriram United legend Diogo Luis Santo, the forward managed an incredible 34 in 34 at the Thunder Castle, while also setting up a further 11 assists for the side.
Beyond his physical characteristics as a classic target-man, Jaja also possessed a formidable eye for goal and incredible technique on the ball for a player of his stature. It came as a massive shock when Buriram allowed what seemed like a prized asset to leave at the end of that campaign, and have arguably failed to find a player of his mould since he departed.
That answer became partly more clear when Jaja arrived at Buriram’s rivals Muangthong United for the following campaign. Failing to re-ignite the magic that defined his incredible first year in Thailand, the Brazilian looked leggy and unfit for large portions of the season. Despite scoring 14 goals in 26 games, Jaja failed to become the attacking focal point the Kirin were hoping for and was often easily stifled by opposing defenders playing a high line and keeping him out of dangerous areas.
His fortunes didn’t improve when he switched Thailand for Korea, failing to make a single appearance after signing for Seongnam FC in 2019. He now returns to Southeast Asia having not played competitive top-flight football since October 2018, and will be expected to be up and running for the season which begins in under a month.
An incredible talent back in his day, Jaja seems like a strange left-field signing for the club who probably don’t need a player of his mould, and will struggle to get the best out of him after his extended absence from football. However, if the Brazilian can show even half of the talent that propelled him to a record-breaking campaign with Buriram, Chiangrai may be able to pull off a pleasant surprise with this signing.