‘I want to play in the Premier League with Sheffield Wednesday,’ insists Owls striker
Centre-forward Lucas Joao remains confident he can still fulfil his ambition to play in the Premier League at Sheffield Wednesday.
Steve Bruce's men came up short in their pursuit of a top-six finish during the 2018/19 season, finishing in 12th place, 10 points shy off Championship play-off finalists Derby County.
Despite missing out on promotion, Joao believes the Owls possess all the tools required to be challenging in the upper reaches of the division next season.
Speaking in an interview to Portuguese newspaper O Jogo, Joao said: “In this club we have everything, players and technical teams of great quality… I believe that with work and a lot of luck things will happen.
"The Premier League is close and it was one of the reasons that led me to England. I don’t want to leave here without realising this desire."
Everything looked rosy in the Wednesday garden after Joao's match-winning contribution against Bristol City back in October. Joao bagged a superb second half double at Ashton Gate to ensure the Owls entered the second international break occupying the final play-off position.
But Wednesday lost their way and a dismal run of one win in 10 matches culminated in the departure of manager Jos Luhukay.
“Individually, the start was good," Joao told Record. "I had been scoring some important goals. It was going well.
"At the collective level it wasn’t the expected way because our goal was promotion the Premier League, but we have to keep looking for it in the coming seasons.”
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Joao netted 10 times from 18 starts in the league, averaging a goal every 161 minutes, to help the Owls finish in the top half of the table but he struggled with form and fitness.
He said: "A striker lives from numbers and goals. Regarding this, this season yes, I had the happiness of scoring more goals, but obviously I would rather change the goals for promotion to the Premier League."
The 25-year-old, a big-money signing from Portuguese side Nacional, is contracted to Wednesday until the summer of 2021.
On his future, Joao said: "For now the future is in England. Obviously I have the desire to play again in the Portuguese League."
But Joao admits he would find it hard to reject overtures from Portuguese giants Benfica, Porto or Sporting Lisbon.
Joao, capped twice by the Portugal national team, said: “To a big one you never say no. It’s prestige. It’s a desire of any player, to step on the big stages for one of the three greats of Portuguese football."
He went on to discuss Bruno Lage, who was a big part of Carlos Carvalhal's coaching staff when the Owls reached back-to-back play-offs in 2016 and 2017.
Now Lage, who worked closely with Wednesday's attacking players, is the Benfica boss and he guided the Lisbon-based side to a 37th Portuguese league title over the weekend.
"In the training exercises he was very serious but, after work, he was also the most playful person we could have, he defines very well what work is and what a joke is," said Joao.
"The manager had finishing exercises programmed and executed with him, because he liked very much to work with us, the strikers."