Transfers windows haven’t been kind to Benfica recently and there were no exceptions this winter window with the departure of the influential Argentine Enzo Perez, who left the club to join rejuvenated Valencia in Spain for €25 million. The Portuguese League Player of the Year was joined by highly rated Portuguese youngster, Bernardo Silva on the way out of Lisbon as his loan deal with resurrected French side Monaco was made permanent for €15,75 million. On the other hand, there were some additions to the Benfica side, the more notable being Jonathan Rodríguez who joined the Portuguese giants on a two-year loan deal following controversies. Continue reading
Manchester United to Sporting (loan)
Portugal National Team and Manchester United winger Nani has returned to his boyhood club, albeit on loan until the end of the season. Nani began his career at Sporting before moving to English giants Manchester United in the summer of 2007 after two impressive seasons in Portugal. A mixture of injuries and indifferent form has held Nani back recently, and the winger has not had a truly successful season since 2012. This move will surely help Nani’s chances at playing time.
This move may come as a bit of a surprise to those who haven’t been following it from the beginning. Nani was greatly out of favor with David Moyes, who took charge at Manchester United last season after club legend Sir Alex Ferguson retired. After Moyes’ subsequent sacking, Netherlands manager Louis Van Gaal took the reins for this season. Almost immediately, Van Gaal made it clear that Nani did not feature in the team’s plans, and that the winger should begin looking for a new club. Juventus, Milan, and Inter were all interested in bringing in Nani, but a move never materialized, likely due to Nani’s huge wage demands.
With Manchester United looking for a defender, they turned their eyes to Marcos Rojo, who enjoyed a stellar World Cup with Argentina. Once the English team made a bid, Sporting demanded that Nani be part of the deal. Manchester United accepted the deal, which sees Nani join Sporting on a season-long loan, with Marcos Rojo joining Manchester United for a fee of around 10 million euros. As part of the deal (possibly the most crucial bit), Manchester United will pay all of Nani’s wages during the loan, which is something that Sporting is financially incapable of doing.
And the funny thing is…Nani left Manchester United and will now be playing in the Champions League.
Portugal 2-0 Ukraine
Two masterfully taken free kicks, one from Salvador Agra, and one from David Simao, earned the Portuguese Under-21 team a 2-0 friendly victory over Ukraine. The match was a promising one from the Under-21 team, with many opportunities in front of goal created.
The match started out quietly. The first chance of note came from the Portuguese side. Andre Martins juked out his marker, and played a wonderful through ball to the onrushing Wilson Eduardo. Eduardo could only shoot over, however. Portugal was dictating the play of the game, and although Ukraine had their chances, it was the Portuguese who looked the more likely to break the deadlock. Portugal did just that just before halftime. The team won a free kick about ten yards outside of the eighteen yard box. Salvador Agra, who had been a livewire up until this point, and Andre Martins were standing over the kick. Martins tapped the ball to Agra, who unleashed a wonderful shot that squeezed into the upper right-hand corner of Ukraine’s goal. It was a truly spectacular goal, and that was evident on Salvador Agra’s face. The teams went into the half with Portugal on top.
The second half was not nearly as interesting as the first half. As is the case with many friendly matches, Portugal Under-21 coach Rui Jorge made a number of substitutions, which disrupted the natural flow of the game. Luis Martins and Danilo Pereira, who both featured for the Portugal U-20 team at last summer’s U-20 World Cup, were both substituted in during the second half to make their debuts. As I stated earlier, the second half was dull, and the first chance for Portugal was a goal. Ludovic was brought down just outside the box. David Simao curled the ensuing free kick into the upper left hand corner to double Portugal’s lead to 2-0. That was how the game ended. The performance was that of confidence, and the team will surely try to build on this impressive performance.
Anthony Lopes(Mika), Cedric(Ivo Pinto), Joao Pereira, Pedro Mendes(Vitor Bastos), Ruben Ferreira(Luis Martins), Andre Martins(Danilo Pereira), Andre Almeida, Josue(Abel Camara), Salvador Agra(David Simao), Rui Fonte(Ludovic), Wilson Eduardo(Diogo Amado)
Benfica to Academica (loan)
Benfica midfielder David Simao has joined fellow Liga Zon Sagres outfit Academica on loan until the end of the season. Simao had been promoted to the first team this season at Benfica, but has found playing time non-existent. The midfielder has only managed two appearances for the club so far this season, and both have been in the Taca de Portugal, which is the cup competition. Now, David Simao will join high-flying Academica on loan for the rest of the season, in an effort to gain playing time.
Following their Euro 2013 qualifier on Thursday, Portuguese U-21 coach Rui Jorge made some changes to the squad that is set to take on France on September 5th. Mario Rui, Nuno Reis, Julio Alves, David Simao, Caetano, Salvador Agra have all been called up in place of Ivo Pinto, Vitor Bastos, Andre Almeida, Diogo Viana, Ricardo Martins, and Abel Camara. Of the players drafted into the squad, David Simao is the only one who has any sort of experience with the U-21 team. The remaining five are just off Portugal’s best display at a U-20 World Cup for a long time.
The Portugal Under-21 Team fought a well-organized Lithuania team today, and came back victorious. Ukra was the star of the night, unlucky to score only once. Ukra had the majority of the shots, and he was eventually rewarded. A corner kick was swung in and Ukra jumped in front of the Lithuanian net-minder to head in the the net. Portugal lost their rhythm in the second half, and Lithuania could have staged a dramatic comeback if it wasn’t for the heroics of the Portugual goalkeeper Rui Patricio, who twice denied Lithuania scoring opportunities. Overall, it was a very promising performance from an inexperienced side.
David Simao was a surprise inclusion in Portugal Under-21 coach Oceano’s list for their crucial Group 9 qualification clash with Lithuania. Currently, Portugal sit third in Group 9 behind England and Greece and need to win all of their three remaining matches to even hope to qualify. Oceano spoke of David Simao, saying: “We believe that this player [David Simao] as has happened with others in the recent past, he deserved the opportunity to be present in sub-21 and observed a step above.” New Everton signing Joao Silva was also included, having picked up his U-21 debut earlier this year. Here is the entire list:
Belenenses: André Almeida
Benfica: Fábio Faria
Everton: João Silva
FC Porto: Castro e Ukra
Leicester: Miguel Vítor
Leixões: Rui Pedro
Nacional: João Aurélio and Orlando Sá
Olhanense: João Gonçalves
Paços de Ferreira: Bura and David Simão
Portimonense: André Pinto, Candeias and Ventura
Sp. Braga: Pizzi
Sporting: André Santos, Daniel Carriço, Diogo Salomão, and Rui Patrício