Fernando Santos: What Can We Expect from Portugal’s New Boss?


Portugal Cyprus Euro 2012 Qual

Could we see Ricardo Carvalho back in the team?

The Portuguese Football Federation announced this week the appointment of Fernando Santos as the Selecao’s head coach. Santos has filled the position left vacated by the departure of Paulo Bento, the team’s previous coach. Bento was known for his stubbornness, which resulted in stagnant team selections, as well as some players being exiled from the team. With Santos now in charge, there is a natural hope for a renewed team; one that is open to any player deemed worthy to represent it. Let’s take a look at what we can expect from Fernando Santos, in terms of player selection and tactics. Continue reading

The Curious Case of Andre Moreira


Photo: Moreirense Futebol Clube

Photo: Moreirense Futebol Clube

Andre Moreira

Atletico Madrid to Moreirense (loan)

News came today that Portugal U-19 European siver-medalist Andre Moreira had joined Liga side Moreirense on loan from Atletico Madrid. A move for the goalkeeper came as little surprise, as he was playing his club football at lowly third division Ribeirao before impressing for the U-19s this summer. But what came as a surprise was not that he had joined a top-flight side, but instead that he was joining on loan from Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.

Moreira enjoyed a very positive Euro U-19 Championship tournament this summer. Despite only playing in the third division leading up to the tournament, Moreira secured the starting position in goal ahead of Tiago Sa, who is a regular for Braga B in the second tier. This alone raised some eyebrows, and it was all the more impressive when one considers that Andre Moreira was one of the younger participants in the team at 18 years old.

In the time around the tournament, clubs such as Manchester United, Benfica, Valencia, and Monaco were all interested in Moreira. This comes as no surprise from his solid performances at such a young age. It’s not everyday that an 18 year-old goalkeeper becomes a starter for his club.

Around the time that the interest in Moreira was beginning to ramp up, it was announced by his club, Ribeirao, that he his rights had been purchased by Jorge Mendes’ agency, Gestifute. Mendes is the notorious agent who represents players such as Ronaldo, Helder Postiga, David De Gea, and others. He is partially responsible for the transfers of many talented players in the league over the past seasons, and has gained a reputation for earning players big moves. Gestifute bought Andre Moreira for 220,000 euros and apparently negotiated a move to Atletico Madrid.

Though I have been unable to find any confirmation that Andre Moreira did indeed end up at Atletico Madrid, all major Portuguese sports news outlets are reporting that he did indeed sign for them. And it’s easy to believe. Mendes has strong ties to the big clubs in both Spain and England.

Now, Andre Moreira will join newly-promoted Liga Zon Sagres side Moreirense on loan from Atletico Madrid for the season, a move which will surely give him some playing time. Moreira will have to compete with first-choice Marafona, as well as Ricardo Ribeiro and new signing Gideao.

Tiago Mendes Returns to Chelsea


Tiago Mendes-Chelsea 2004-2005

Tiago (left) during his first stint with Chelsea, when he helped Chelsea to its first league title in 50 years. Photo courtesy express.co.uk

After a stellar season at Atletico Madrid which saw the team win the league and reach the final of the Champions League, Tiago Mendes is set to rejoin Jose Mourinho at English giants Chelsea. This will be Tiago’s second stint at the English club, after representing the team during the 2004-2005 season, also during Mourinho’s first season at Chelsea. An integral part of Atletico Madrid’s much-hailed midfield last season, Tiago found himself in arguably the finest form of his career at the advanced age of 33. He was in such fine form that he publicly regretted his decision to retire from the Portuguese National Team following the 2010 World Cup. At the time, it looked as if the midfielder’s career was on the steep decline, despite positive performances for Portugal at the aforesaid World Cup.

At the time of his international retirement, Tiago was languishing at Juventus, having only managed 7 league appearances during the first half of the previous season.  A loan to Atletico Madrid was arranged in January of 2010 (still prior to the World Cup), and the midfielder showed his worth, making 18 league appearances in the latter half of the season. After a successful half season and a positive World Cup campaign, another loan was arranged for the 2010-2011 season. But this time it was a season-long loan. Tiago continued to perform well for the Spanish club, managing 31 league appearances. After the loan expired, Tiago was purchased outright by Atletico on a two year contract. Since that time, Tiago has established himself as a tactically-sound asset to the team. He’s not the player he once was, but his knowledge of the game has grown immensely-an attribute he showed to perfection this season.

Many are speculating that Tiago’s move to Chelsea is one that will see him become part of the team’s backroom staff after his playing days are over. He was signed on a two-year deal, which will see him under contract until he is 35 years old, a prime age for retirement. There have been no secrets about his relationship with Jose Mourinho, and many are speculating that Tiago may have been signed to become Mourinho’s assistant a few years down the road. Will this happen? Only time will tell. For the mean time, Chelsea have signed an experienced player who was at the heart of one of the finest underdog stories of last season.

Silvio Loaned to Deportivo


Silvio - Atletico Madrid

Silvio

Atletico Madrid to Deportivo (Loan)

Atletico Madrid right-back Silvio has joined fellow La Liga side Deportivo on loan until the end of the season. The defender has been in and out of Atletico’s first team this season, but more times than not, he has missed selection. In an effort to gain playing time, he has joined Deportivo, which is ranked last in La Liga at the moment. A likely contributing factor to the move is the recent appointment of Domingos Pacienca, who Silvio played under at Braga during the 2010-2011 season.

Braga Purchase Ruben Micael


Ruben Micael

Atletico Madrid to Braga

Ruben Micael is now an SC Braga player, after the Portuguese club purchased half of the rights to the player for 3 million euros, a record purchase for the club. Micael has been in scintillating form for Braga this season, where he has been on loan from Atletico Madrid. The midfielder moved to Atletico as part of the Falcao deal, but was immediately loaned to Zaragoza. He spent the entirety of last season on loan at the Spanish club, and joined Braga at the beginning of this season. He had previously shown what he could do in the Liga Zon Sagres first with Nacional and then with Porto, and many were eagerly awaiting his performances for Braga. He has not disappointed. Micael has amassed four goals and two assists in ten appearances this season, and has become one of Braga’s most valued assets. The contract that he signed is valid for five years.

Transfer Rumors – 8/8/12


As with any transfer window, there are always an excess of transfer rumors, some of which are believable, some of which are off the wall. We’ll bring you both, and you can decide for yourself which is which.

Bruno Alves

Zenit to Juventus, Porto, or Atletico Madrid?

Portuguese international defender Bruno Alves is hinting that a move away from Russia may be in the near future. The defender, who featured heavily in the Portuguese squad at this summer’s European Championships, was snapped up by Zenit in 2010 for a fee of over 20 million pounds. This move came after widespread speculation linking him to the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United. Since his move, he has established himself as an important player for the club. Now, Juventus, Porto, and Atletico Madrid are all said to be interested in the defender. As with Porto’s case, there has been talk of Zenit using Bruno Alves as a makeweight in a shock swoop for Hulk at Porto. Regardless, Atletico Madrid seem the most likely to win his signature, with Alves’ father stating that his son “would have no problem going to Atletico Madrid.”

Eliseu

Malaga to Benfica?

In the midst of financial turmoil, Malaga are looking to sell some of their most prized assets. Spanish international Santi Cazorla has already moved on to Arsenal, while Venezuelan striker Salomon Rondon has made a seven million pound move to Russia. One player who has been important for the Spanish club over the past few seasons is Eliseu. A winger who was converted to left-back, Eliseu has impressed many with his performances for not only Malaga, but the Portuguese National team. It is no secret that Benfica are in the market for a left-back after the departure of Capdevila to Espanyol, and the underwhelming performances of Emerson. Benfica coach Jorge Jesus has even used Melgarejo, a Paraguayan forward, as a left-back, an indication that a true left-back is needed for the club. Benfica’s interest in Eliseu is not new, but there now may be more urgency behind the move.  Benfica is not the only club interested in the winger, with six other unnamed clubs interested as well.

Quaresma

Besiktas to Atletico Madrid or Liverpool?

Dazzling winger Ricardo Quaresma looks to be on his way out of Turkish club Besiktas. After a wage dispute, it appears that Quaresma is being frozen out of the club, and is reportedly training with the club’s reserve team. The Portuguese international’s skill is undeniable. After an ill-fated move to Inter Milan earlier in his career, the winger’s glory days looked over. After his move to Besiktas, however, the winger gained back some of his confidence, and, once again, began to shine. Now, his days at Besiktas looked numbered. It is reported that Liverpool have reserved eight million pounds for his services, and Atletico Madrid will pounce should their deal with Crisitan Tello fall by the wayside.

Liga Orangina Youngster to Watch: Goncalo Silva


Goncalo Silva

Atletico CP

Player to Watch

Many young players who ply their trade in the Liga Orangina do so on loan from a Liga Zon Sagres club. This method is a proven way to develop young talent, by giving them playing time. One such player who has benefited from this is Goncalo Silva. Silva was picked up by Liga Zon Sagres side Vitoria Guimaraes from lower division side Barreirense. He immediately joined Lousada, playing in the third division, on loan from Guimaraes. He went on to make 28 appearances for the club, and catch the eye of the Guimaraes staff. This season, Vitoria opted to loan him again, this time to the Liga Orangina. Silva joined newlu-promoted Atletico CP on a season-long loan deal.

Despite having never played in the Liga Orangina and only being 20 years old, Goncalo Silva has established himself as an important peice of the Atletico CP puzzle. The center-defender has helped a young Atletico CP side to seventh in the Liga Orangina standings. He has appeared in all but one of the team’s matches, bringing his tally to 18 games thus far.

Given the fact that he was discovered relatively late in his youth career from a lower division club, it does not come as a surprise that Silva has yet to make a single appearance for any of the Portugal national youth teams. Still aged just 20, there is still time for Silva to make it into the Portuguese Under-21 team, and gauging on his performances this season, a call-up may not be far away.

Despite the limited time that Goncalo Silva has been on the footballing scene, he has already firmly established himself as a star for the future, whether its for Vitoria Guimaraes or the Portuguese National Team.

 

Pizzi Returns to Braga


Pizzi

Atletico Madrid to Braga (Loan return)

Pizzi has finished his loan at Atletico Madrid, and is set to finish the season at Braga. the winger was on loan at the Spanish club for six months, with an option to buy. Atletico have failed to trigger the 15 million euro transfer clause to bring Pizzi to Spain permanently. The reason given was not that they did not believe Pizzi to be good enough, but rather a shortage of funds. Pizzi settled well in Spain,making six appearances, mainly from the bench, and scoring once. For a twenty-two year-old who has never played abroad, I would say he did well.

Zeca and Pizzi Score First League Goals


It was a good weekend for Portuguese abroad, as Panathinaikos’ Zeca and Atletico Madrid’s Pizzi scored their first league goals. Both joined their clubs at the beginning of this season, and both have enjoyed varying degrees of success. This weekend, however, was a success for them both. First up is Zeca.

Zeca

Olympiacos 1-1 Panathinaikos

After making the switch this summer from Vitoria Setubal to Greek giants Panathinaikos, Zeca has cemented his place in the starting eleven. Out of Panathinaikos’ eight games so far this season, Zeca has started all eight, and has usually played the full ninety minutes. It’s not hard to see that Zeca is an important piece to the Panathinaikos puzzle, and he proved that in Saturday’s derby against Olympiakos. After making a well-timed run into the box, Zeca received a pass from a teammate and poked the ball home. That goal made the score 1-0 and although Olympiacos would later score, the fans will forever be attached to Zeca. Panathinaikos are now sitting on top of the Greek league. Click here for the highlights from TvGolo.com.

Pizzi

Atletico Madrid 3-2 Levante

Switching peninsulas, Pizzi also scored his maiden goal for his new club. Pizzi is currently on loan from Sporting Braga to Atletico Madrid. Atletico have secured a season-long loan with an optional deal to purchase the player for 8 million at the end of the loan. After his performances on Sunday against Levante, Atletico may be getting their cash ready. Pizzi has made the majority of his appearances for Atletico off the bench, and Sunday’s match was no different. The winger was substituted in at half time, taking Tiago’s spot. A little over twenty minutes into the second half, a perfectly weighted ball from Jose Reyes found Pizzi’s run. The winger took a brilliant first-touch and coolly slotted the ball through the goalkeepers legs with his left foot. It was a simple enough looking goal because Pizzi did everything right. With Falcao out injured, maybe Pizzi can be the goal-getter that Atletico desperately needs. Click here for the highlights from TvGolo.com.

Benfica Starlet Targeted Abroad


Rui Canico – Benfica to Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, or Inter Milan?

Rui Canico, currently playing for Benfica’s youth team, has attracted the interest of some of the largest clubs across Europe. Aged just 16, Canico is beginning to be a regular for the Portugal U-16 team, with a U-17 debut not too far off. His contract with Benfica is set to expire at the end of the season, and already clubs from Italy and Spain are expressing interest. Among the list of suitors is AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Atletico Madrid.