With the transfer window now open, some of the rumors that have filled the news in June have become true. Now more than two weeks into the transfer window, clubs have wasted no time finalizing deals. Here are the most noteworthy transfers thus far this window. Continue reading
Following three successive wins, the Portuguese Under-19 team has qualified for the Elite Qualification round for next summer’s UEFA U-19 European Championship. Led by rising stars such as Renato Sanches, Gil Dias, and Goncalo Guedes, the team qualified with relative ease, which shows just how strong Portugal’s youth system is at the moment. Should Portugal qualify for next summer’s tournament, it will be the fourth year in a row that the team has managed an appearance in the competition. That statistic is encouraging, and with players such as Marcos Lopes, Bernardo Silva, Andre Gomes, Joao Mario, and Bruma in recent years, there is every reason that this current group of U-19s is destined for success. Continue reading
Benfica to Deportivo (loan)
After days of intense speculation, it was announced yesterday that Benfica’s Ivan Cavaleiro had agreed to move on loan to La Liga side Deportivo for the season. Cavaleiro had been closely followed by Pacos Ferreira, Maritimo, and Academica after Benfica coach Jorge Jesus made it clear that the winger would not feature in his plans this season. Cavaleiro will now join the newly-promoted Spanish side until the end of the season, and will hope to build on a positive 2013/2014 season, which saw him debut both for Benfica’s first team and the Portuguese National Team. He will join fellow countrymen Diogo Salomao, Henrique Sereno, and Luisinho.
Following Portugal’s abysmal World Cup campaign, many are calling for an entire squad overhaul. And whether or not that will happen is anybody’s guess. Paulo Bento has earned quite a reputation for favoritism, consistently choosing the same players time and time again. While these players have performed well for Portugal in the past, many of their performances recently have been far from their best. For instance, for this World Cup, Bento called up players such as Helder Postiga, Nani, and Eder, none of whom played regularly at all last season. Some would argue that players such as Postiga, Nani, and Eder don’t deserve to play for the national team due to a lack of playing time at their clubs, and that players who play club football more regularly should earn the call instead. Essentially, Paulo Bento is rewarding mediocrity. The competition for places on the team has dwindled to nothing. Good performances won’t earn a call-up.
Many Portuguese fans have felt this way recently, and many feel the World Cup highlighted the holes in Paulo Bento’s plan. With Paulo Bento to stay in charge until at least Euro 2016, a change in coach does not look likely. The only think fans can hope for is a change in mentality from Bento. At the heart of this change should be a re-evaluation of the squad: determining which players deserve a place in the team, and discarding those who don’t.
So, here are 12 players who deserve a place in Paulo Bento’s squad, in no particular order.
Lima has played in Portugal ever since the 2009-2010 season, when he joined Belenenses from the lower divisions in Brazil. After a successful first season at Belenenses, Braga purchased the striker, who became a cult figure at the club. In his second season at Braga, Lima truly came of age. In 30 appearances, Lima scored 20 times, helping Braga to an impressive 3rd place finish, and also finishing as the joint top goalscorer in Portugal. As a result of his scoring exploits, Benfica came knocking. And in the two seasons he has been at Benfica, Lima has managed 34 goals in 56 appearances. Portugal has a long-standing striker problem ever since the retirement of Pauleta. Hugo Almeida, Helder Postiga, Nelson Oliveira, and more recently Eder have all been given chances, but none have truly won over the position. Though Lima was born in Brazil and has only been in Portugal for five years, naturalization is certainly an option. Lima isn’t getting any younger, however. At 31, Bento may have to act sooner rather than later if he wants Lima in the national team.
In the past two seasons, fans of Sporting Lisbon and the Portuguese national team have witnessed Cedric Soares realize his potential. Always regarded as one of Portuguese football’s brightest prospects, Cedric has made the starting right-back spot at Sporting his own. The defender helped Sporting to an impressive 2nd place finish this season, playing in 28 matches for the club. And still only 22, Cedric has the time to develop further and to become an important member of the Seleccao for years to come.
Arguably Sporting’s finest player last season, his exclusion from the Portuguese team for the World Cup left many with a bad taste in their mouths. In the mold of a stylish no. 10, Adrien Silva is a creative spark behind Sporting, and a huge reason that the team finished as high on the table as they did. His call to the national team last season shows that Paulo Bento is not averse to his inclusion in the team, but a place in the starting eleven may be a bit harder to achieve. Bento is known to favor a three-man midfield of Veloso, Moutinho, and Meireles, which worked wonders at Euro 2012. Since then, that combination has fallen flat many a time. And with Bento not even willing to change his midfield trio with the inclusion of proven talent William Carvalho, a place for Adrien may be a long time off.
Sporting Lisbon employed much the same tactic last season as Portugal does currently. Both teams play a 4-3-3, with virtually the same midfield set-up. William Carvalho provides the defensive anchor, Andre Martins provides some tenacity and creative spark, and Adrien does the dirty work, while also popping in with some creativity. Andre Martins enjoyed a solid season at Sporting, which was his first in the top flight that saw him perform regularly. With two senior team caps under his belt, Martins has already been in and around the team, and at the very least can provide cover for the ageing Raul Meireles and Miguel Veloso.
Bento made a bold decision with his team selection this summer. Instead of choosing a natural left-back as back-up for Fabio Coentrao, Bento chose utility man Andre Almeida, who is capable of playing almost anywhere in midfield and defense. Almeida is a right-footed player, who Bento employed at left-back. A series of mediocre performances followed from Almeida, who while solid, lacked any attacking acumen going forward. Antunes, on the other hand, is equally adept at attacking and defending, a quality that he has showed at Malaga, where he has won a starting spot at left-back. And he is no stranger to the national team. Having appeared for the team after an impressive U-20 World Cup showing in 2007, Antunes fell off the radar after an ill-fated move abroad to Roma. But after finding his way back to Portugal, Antunes earned a move to Malaga, where he has flourished, appearing 36 times last season alone. His performances have not gone unnoticed, with West Ham reportedly naming Antunes as one of their top targets.
Jose Fonte, despite being somewhat of an unknown in English football, has become one of the driving forces behind Southampton’s baffling rise to the English Premier League. Fonte became a regular for Championship side Crystal Palace after leaving Sporting before the 2007-2008 season. Establishing himself as a started, Fonte spent three seasons at the club before agreeing to a move to Southampton, who were at that time playing in the third tier of English football: League 1. Many were taken aback by this decision, but few will fault the defender now. Two seasons in League 1 saw them promoted to the Championship, and after only one season, the team earned passage into the English Premier League. During the entirety of this revival, Fonte maintained a starting position, and has kept it during his two seasons in the Premier League. And he hasn’t only kept it. He’s become one of the club’s finest performers. Last season, whoscored.com rated Fonte at 7.21, making him the second best performer for Southampton. Though he is 30 years old and not getting any younger, stats like that are hard to ignore. Once again, he at least deserves to earn a call to the team.
Portugal has been gifted with talented goalkeepers in recent years. Players such as Vitor Baia, Ricardo, and Eduardo have graced the spot in between the sticks in recent years, and more recently, Rui Patricio has rightfully made the starting spot his own. And even after Patricio’s injury at this World Cup, backup goalkeeper Beto slid in an performed with confidence and skill. Of the three goalkeepers that Bento called on this summer, only two are still playing regularly in a top league. Beto was instrumental in Sevilla’s Europa League win last season, and Rui Patricio is one of Sporting Lisbon’s shining jewels. Eduardo, on the other hand, played well for Braga last season on loan from Genoa, but has transferred to Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia. The point of this is not to say that Dinamo is not a good team, but rather to point out that the Croatian league is not anywhere close to being a top league. It’s not even comparable to, let’s say, the French league. And now we come to Anthony Lopes, who was Lyon’s starting goalkeeper last season, appearing 32 times in the league. And this season, it looks as if not much will change. With Lopes playing regularly against players like Ibrahimovic and Falcao, why not call him up to the team, even if it is to serve as a back-up.
Guerreiro deserves to be considered for the National Team. I highlighted the left-back in an article last week, and the reason is clear. Guerreiro is playing regularly for a team in the top division in France, and is only 20 years old. There is a chance that he could switch alliances and choose to play for France, a move that would be devastating for Portugal. He won’t take the starting spot from Coentrao, and no one is expecting him to. But he certainly deserves a chance in the team, even if it is initially just to tie him down to Portugal.
You may be wondering why Quaresma was included on this list; a player who has dozens of caps for Portugal. The reason is simple. Paulo Bento chose to leave Quaresma at home this World Cup, instead choosing Vieirinha, who had just come off a season ravaged by injuries. While Quaresma’s seasons recently have been lackluster, once the winger arrived at Porto in January, he looked a different player. And 10 goals in 24 appearances later, many were left scratching their heads when Bento left Quaresma off the team. Quaresma could have surely brought something to the team, at the very least as backup. While he is 30 and will soon be 31, Quaresma still possesses a skillset that can be of use to the team.
Few were expecting for Diogo Figueiras to have the impact last season that he did. After an impressive 2012-2013 debut season for Pacos Ferreira, Figueiras earned a move to Spanish club Sevilla. Still a virtual unknown, the right-back managed an impressive 22 first team appearances for the Spanish club, helping the team as they won the Europa League. With first-choice right back Coke a possibility to leave, Figueiras will look to build on what was a very solid first season at Sevilla. And one way he can build on his season is to be rewarded with a call to the National Team, something that he undoubtedly deserves. He is certainly capable of providing competition for Joao Pereira.
Another member of Sevilla’s impressive Europa League winning squad last season, Daniel Carrico is enjoying something of a revival after a horrendous season in England. Once viewed as Sporting Lisbon’s golden boy, Carrico was given captaincy at the Portuguese club at just 22. But the center defender’s form dropped as Sporting muddled through some of their worst seasons in history. As a result, Carrico was sold for close to nothing to newly promoted Premier League side Reading. At Reading, Carrico only managed a handful of appearances, and a loan deal to Sevilla for the 2013-2014 season was arranged. In his season at Sevilla, Carrico became one of the club’s most dependable performers, with his performances earning him a permanent move this summer. Long thought of as one of Portugal’s most up and coming defenders, few will argue that Carrico reached the potential that many saw in him during his Sporting years. But few will argue that Carrico’s season last time out was one of his finest. And not only that, but he is versatile. Capable of playing both at center back and defensive midfield, versatility is something that Paulo Bento looks for. So Paulo…nudge nudge.
Often labeled as Manchester United’s biggest flop, many English football fans assumed that Bebe’s career was a joke and that he had very little to offer the world of football. Oh how they are wrong. Rightly derided in England, Bebe’s time at Manchester United, though not abysmal, was certainly not worthy of the price that the club paid for his services. But a good decision on their part was to loan him back to Portugal. A semi-successful loan to Rio Ave during the 2012-2013 season was followed by a hugely successful loan to Pacos Ferreira last season. At Pacos, Bebe finished the season as the top scoring Portuguese player in the league, which is even more impressive when one considers that the winger was playing for a team who had to avoid relegation via a playoff. Following arguably his most impressive season yet, Benfica are extremely close to signing him, and you can expect that he won’t be loaned out.
It was an uncharacteristically calm transfer deadline day across Europe, but the same cannot be said for Portugal. Though there were no huge deals, there were quite a few surprising ones. Here they are:
Blackburn to Benfica (loan)
Once touted as a star for the future, Diogo Rosado’s development has stalled slightly. Regardless, the midfielder earned a move to freshly-relegated English club Blackburn Rovers this summer. Since then, however, playing time has been scarce, and has necessitated a move back to his home country. Most likely destined for Benfica’s B team, Rosado will most likely not feature much for the club’s first team. If his performances are impressive enough, Benfica has the option to purchase Rosado at the end of the loan period.
Porto to Napoli (loan)
Porto outcast Rolando has finally made a move away from the Estadio Dragao to the Italian peninsula. It had been almost a certainty that the center defender would move away from Porto, but the question was to what team. He joins Napoli until the end of the season, with an option to buy at the end of the deal.
Pacos Ferreira to Malaga (loan)
Pacos Ferreira left-back Vitorino Antunes has joined La Liga high-flyers Malaga on loan until the end of the season with an option to buy. This move was most likely pushed through out of necessity. Nacho Monreal, Malaga’s first-choice left-back, was purchased by Arsenal today. Due to this, Antunes may win a starting spot.
Zurich to Siena (loan)
One of the lesser known transfers that went through today is certainly Jorge Teixeira’s loan move to the Serie A. Teixeira has been plying his trade in Switzerland for two and a half seasons, and will now be in the thick of Siena’s relegation battle. He will join fellow countrymen Luis Neto and Salvador Agra at the club.
Things are starting to heat up in this transfer window that has been largely uneventful. Maybe it will become more interesting if any of these rumors become a reality.
Sporting to Everton?
According to reports coming out of Portugal, Everton are very interested in signing Adrien Silva, who is currently on loan from Sporting Lisbon at Academica. Silva has been in rampant form this season for Academica, and his performances have not gone unnoticed. Everton boss David Moyes was in the stands yesterday during the Academica vs Vitoria Guimaraes match, with Silva most likely the reason for his trip. A move is unlikely, however, as Silva’s release clause at Sporting is set at 20 million, and Everton are typically a cash-strapped club.
Sporting to PSG?
Sporting right-back Joao Pereira is reportedly a target for French billionaire club PSG. Inter Milan right-back Maicon is said to be their primary target, but if a 15 million pound move for him does not materialize, the French club may look to either Pereira or Porto right-back Jorge Fucile.
Sertanense to Chelsea, Wolfsburg, Monaco, or Porto?
Many don’t recognize the name Diogo Ribeiro. There is no reason to. Now, however, Ribeiro is the top scorer in the equivalent of the third division in Portugal. The striker has bagged nine goals so far this season, and that tally has not gone unnoticed. Representatives from Chelsea, Wolfsburg, Monaco, and Porto were all present at the team’s last match, with Ribeiro their intended target.
Porto to Mariselle or Bologna (loan)?
Porto outcast (kind-of) Sivestre Varela is looking for a way out of the club. The winger was an integral part of the team that won virtually everything last season, but this season has been the polar opposite. Under new coach Vitor Pereira, Varela has been pushed into the shadows, and with talk of another winger, Yannick Djalo, joining the club, his playing time looked even more threatened. Though the Yannick move has not materialized, Varela is still looking out. Marsielle and Bologna are both interested in taking the player on loan.
The transfer window has been quiet up to this point, but it appears that things may be starting to heat up. Here are two stories, one a loan and one a permanent transfer. While these are most likely not huge stories, they are nevertheless interesting.
Porto to Braga (Loan)
Porto right-back Miguel Lopes is set to spend the remainder of the 2011-2012 season on loan at fellow Liga Zon Sagres outfit, SC Braga. Lopes has not played in a single competitive match this season for Porto, and this move will surely come as a relief for the defender. The right-back spent the entirety of last season on loan to then-Segunda Division side, Real Betis. Lopes was instrumental in the team’s promotion back into the Spanish topflight. On the last day of the summer transfer window at the beginning of this season, Zaragoza reportedly made a bid for Lopes. The offer was accepted, but eventually fell through due to the time constraint. Miguel Lopes will join up with his new teammates shortly and begin training.
Sporting to Genoa (end of season)
Diogo Rosado, once tipped to be a star for the future, is set to leave his homeland, according to reports coming out of Portugal. Currently on loan from Sporting at Liga Zon Sagres side Feirense, the winger has been impressing. A solid performance against Benfica earlier in the season was thought to be a sign of things to come. Unfortunately, playing time has not been ample for the 21 year-old. He has only managed four starts for the club this season. Anyhow, Rosado has been on the books at Sporting since 2001, but he looks to break that at the end of the season. His contract with the Lisbon-based club runs out at the end of the season, and Genoa either has, or shortly will, offer him a 5 year-contract.
The Portuguese Under-21 team picked up an impressive win over France today, in a U-21 friendly. The final score was 1-0, with Wilson Eduardo grabbing the only goal of the game. That goal was the first chance of note for Portugal in the game. A neat interchange between Rui Fonte and Diogo Rosado was cleared by a French defender, only for the clearance to fall for Eduardo, who volleyed with his right foot. That shot was saved, but the goalkeeper couldn’t keep out the forward’s acrobatic left foot shot. The rest of the game was largely uninteresting, with Portugal controlling the match.
Anthony Lopes (Cristiano), Cedric, Joao Pereira (Nuno Reis), Pedro Mendes, Mario Rui, Andre Martins (Salvador Agra), Diogo Amado (Pele), Diogo Rosado (David Simao), Josue (Julio Alves), Rui Fonte (Caetano), Wilson Eduardo (Joao Silva)
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 Portuguese Under-21 team has gotten off to an excellent start in their 2013 Euro U-21 qualification campaign. Goals from Joao Pereira and Rui Fonte gave the Seleccao a much-deserved 2-0 win over their European counterparts. Cedric and Pele, who both starred for Portugal at the recent U-20 World Cup, made their debuts for the U-21 team. Rui Fonte, who captained the side on the night, came close with a header, which cannoned off the crossbar. Soon after, Joao Pereira headed in a cross from the left to give Portugal the lead. Portugal came close on a few occasions, but they failed to capitalize on their chances until stoppage time at the end of the game. Diogo Viana struck a free kick, which the Moldovan keeper could just punch straight at Rui Fonte, who simply tapped the ball into the net. That was how the game ended, with Rui Jorge’s men gaining a victory that they can now build on.
Anthony Lopes, Cedric, Pedro Mendes, Joao Pereira, Ruben Ferreira, Andre Almeida, Andre Martins (Diogo Viana), Josue, Diogo Rosado (Pele), Wilson Eduardo (Joao Silva), Rui Fonte