Followers of the Portuguese game are well aware that the country is on the cusp of another “Golden Generation” of football. The last Golden Generation produced players like Rui Costa and Luis Figo, so the very thought of another generation anywhere close to as talented as the last one is encouraging. The reason for the excitement is a number of extremely talented players, already with considerable playing time under their belts in some of Europe’s top leagues. Players like João Mario, William Carvalho, Bernardo Silva, and André Gomes are some of the more well-known names, thanks to impressive performances this season. One player who hasn’t truly gained as much recognition (until recently) is João Carlos Teixeira. Teixeira played for Brighton Hove & Albion this season, on loan from English Premier League giants Liverpool. Despite some impressive, if inconsistent, performances, Teixeira hasn’t garnered much media or fan attention since playing in the English second tier with Brighton. His performances, as I have alluded to, deserve more recognition.
Porto, Benfica, Sporting Win, Champions League Success, Carvalho Saga Nears an End, and Azzurri on the Cheap
It was a busy week for all the Big clubs in Portugal, which made for a lot of interesting reading so here is a review of what hit the headlines this week in the Liga.
FC Porto got an important win for the club qualifying for the Group Stage in the Champions League. They also helped the Liga as a whole beating out French side Lille 2-0 at the Dragao (3-0 on Aggregate), boosting the Primeira Liga’s Co-efficiency points in Europe. Brahimi was a star again.
The William Carvalho story has taken another twist as Manchester United bump ahead of Arsenal, in the race for the impressive Portuguese National Team’s World Cup star. Sporting CP has dropped their asking price (although many strings attached) causing a frenzy of headlines.
Benfica in interesting news was turned down by Palermo striker Abel Hernandez. He would rather stay in Italy or move to a lower level EPL team instead. Good riddance I would say because clearly playing in a 5th rate league or not in the Champions League is better for his career.
FC Porto’s wonder boy Ruben Neves was given global attention again as FIFA posted an article praising the 17 year old on their website. Two weeks in and the young midfielder a U-17 star for Portugal has really made a name for himself.
SLB international midfielder Ruben Amorim hit the headlines unfortunately in a bad way, as he ruptured ligaments in his knee that will see him out of action for 6 months. It was a bad break for Ruben as Defensive Midfielder Ljubomir Fejsa was out with injury and it looked like he was going to get a lot of first team action in that role. Fortunately for Benfica they have Andre Almeida in the wings that could be a big star at the position.
Portuguese International Nani reported and got in action for Sporting CP helping them to a win. The bonus was that Bruno de Carvalho got Manchester United to foot most of his wage bills in the Rojo deal.
Joao Cancelo the talented Benfica fullback got a loan deal with Valencia who looks to give him some first team playing time. Cancelo was very impressive in pre-season this year for SLB and fans look forward to him taking big steps this season.
With Liverpool FC exchanging one troubled striker for another which seems fitting, AC Milan looked to replace Balotelli by poaching FC Porto’s monster attacker Jackson Martinez. They not only sent in a low-ball bid to Porto for Martinez they also wanted to make installment payments for him over a few years, in true Italian style. Someone should explain to the Italian Chiefs living in their fishbowl that the Primeira Liga is above them now, and that they will have to pay more and sell for less in dealings with the Big 3. We have 2 Big clubs (Benfica #5 & Porto #11) both hovering around the top 10 in European Club Charts they have none. MESSAGE TO AZZURRI: Enough with the tampering and lowballing Liga players.
Once again another interesting week in the Headlines for Portuguese Football, keep it locked here to PortugalFutbol.net for your Portuguese Futebol fix, and follow us on twitter as we post links to late breaking news regularly.
Liverpool to Bordeaux (loan)
Liverpool and Portugal U-21 central defender Tiago Ilori has joined Ligue 1 side Bordeaux on a season-long loan from English Premier League side Liverpool until the end of the season. This loan comes as little surprise, after the arrival of Dejan Lovren at Liverpool. The club’s signing of Lovren meant that had Ilori stayed at Liverpool, he would have had to compete with no less than six central defenders, including seasoned internationals Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho.
This is not the first time Ilori has been loaned by Liverpool, having spent the second-half of last season on loan in Spain with Granada. Ilori impressed during his time at the Spanish club, and will hope for similar exposure this time in France. According to the details of the loan, Ilori will stay at the club until the end of the season, and there is no option for Bordeaux to make the loan permanent. Should this loan prove successful, we could see Ilori in the Portuguese National Team in the foreseeable future.
— FCGirondins Bordeaux (@girondins) August 18, 2014
With the transfer window to close shut in a little under a month and with managers looking to complete their squads as quickly as possible, there is no lack of transfer news. Here’s the latest:
Josue to leave Porto, but where to?
After spending only one season at Porto, Josue looks set to leave after it was revealed that he does not fit into Julien Lopetegui’s plans. A departure looks likely, with the midfielder not even present at the squad presentation. Porto are looking to sell the player, with a fee of 6 million euros reported to be their asking price. Lazio and Napoli are both said to be interested in the midfielder, but more recently, newly-promoted french side Metz are touted to be his destination.
Sunderland interested in Frederico Venancio
Following Vitoria Setubal’s 0-0 pre-season draw with Premier League team Sunderland, Frederico Venancio gained the praise of the English team’s coach. Gus Poyet said after the game that he was impressed with Venancio, who is entering his third full season in Setubal.
Newly-promoted La Liga side Deportivo are reportedly very interested in taking both Tiago Ilori and Ivan Cavaleiro on loan from Liverpool and Benfica, respectively. Ilori appears to be surplus to requirements at Liverpool this season, especially since the arrival of Croatian defender Dejan Lovren. Cavaleiro is also set to be loaned, with Pacos Ferreira, Academica, and Maritimo all interested in the winger’s services.
Following his release from Besiktas, Hugo Almeida is still without a club. The experienced Portuguese striker, who has found success in both Germany and Turkey, will surely find a club, but the question remains as to which one. Eintracht Frankfurt and Galatasaray have both been touted as possible destinations, and West Ham is the latest club to show interest in the striker.
Rayo Vallecano has taken Porto winger Lica on loan for the entire season after he was deemed to be surplus to requirements under new coach Julien Lopetegui. Much like Josue, Lica’s future at Porto looks increasingly dim, and it comes as little surprise that this loan was arranged.
Andre Gomes is arguably one of the most exciting Portuguese prospects in the game right now. Though not a regular for Benfica, Gomes is slowly establishing himself as a logical replacement for Nemanja Matic, who moved to Chelsea in January. Benfica coach Jorge Jesus has put a great deal of faith in Gomes, most notably starting him in a number of important matches this season, most recently (and notably) the Europa League final against Sevilla.
Andre Gomes was included in Portugal coach Paulo Bento’s 30-man preliminary World Cup squad when it was announced earlier this month. Many were left scratching their head at the prospect of an un-capped 20 year old making the team ahead of such players as Adrien Silva. But for those who watch Andre Gomes play, the decision was not that surprising. Naturally a holding midfielder, Gomes is capable of supplying his team with creativity, tough tackling, and a wide range of passing if need be. It’s a theme with midfielders who are coached by Jorge Jesus that they are extremely versatile. Midfielders such as Ruben Amorim, Enzo Perez, and Andre Almeida all had their playing style molded and changed by the Benfica coach, and Gomes is no different.
In January, it was announced that a third party, Meriton Capital Limited, bought 100% of Gomes’ rights from Benfica. Though he continued to play for Benfica for the remainder of the season, he was not actually owned by the team. As soon as the midfielder was purchased, rumors about his future began. Monaco, Liverpool, and Valencia were all touted as possible destinations, a great example of the esteem in which Gomes is kept. Some recent developments may answer the question of “where to?” for Gomes.
The owner of Meriton Capital Limited, Peter Lim, has recently purchased Spanish-based club Valencia. According to sources, Lim wants to bring Gomes to Spain next season, and as no money would have to change hands, the move would be simple. The midfielder has been quiet about his future at Benfica, simply stating that “I’m not really thinking about it.”
Parma to Sassuolo
After a limited amount of playing time so far for Serie A side Parma, Pedro Mendes has sealed a free transfer to league-strugglers Sassuolo.
Braga to Gil Vicente (loan)
After moving to Braga from Benfica this summer, Vieira has found playing time hard to come by this season. In the opportunities he was given at Braga, Vieira failed to impress. Now, Vieira will join the club where he made his start seasons ago.
Sporting to Vitoria Setubal (loan)
After impressing this season for Sporting B, scoring nine in 17 games, Betinho will now have his first opportunity at playing in the Liga Zon Sagres, joining Vitoria Setubal on loan until the end of the season.
Real Betis to Academica (loan)
Salvador Agra has joined Academica on loan until the end of the season after a disappointing loan spell at Braga during the first half of the season.
Benfica to ?
Benfica announced today that Andre Gomes has been sold to an unnamed team for 15 million euros. After a promising start to his Benfica career, Gomes has found playing time very limited, and although Matic has departed the team for Chelsea, it does not appear that Gomes will see more playing time. Liverpool have been touted to make a move for the midfielder, and Anfield could very well be where Gomes ends up at the end of the day.
Liverpool to Granada (loan)
Liverpool have sent young central defender Tiago Ilori on loan to La Liga outfit Granada until the end of the season. Ilori has yet to make an appearance for the Liverpool first team, but has established himself well in the U-21 side. Purchased from Sporting in the summer for a fee of 7 million, Ilori is viewed as a player for the future. Liverpool has a reputation for grooming young players into first team players, and with Ilori still only 20, many hope that’s exactly what will happen.
Rui Jorge announced his squad for the Portugal Under-21 team on Friday for the team’s matches against Israel and Azerbaijan, and included two of the brightest prospects in Portuguese football at the moment. Tiago Ilori and Bruma, who starred for Portugal at last summer’s U20 World Cup, have made the list, and are in line to make their debut for the team. Tiago Ilori’s good form last year for Sporting and subsequent solid display at the U20 World Cup convinced Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers to splash out over seven million euros for him. Bruma, also a product of Sporting, has similar displays to that of Ilori to thank for his success. Also impressive last season, Bruma picked up the silver shoe at the U20 World Cup, and earned a move to Galatasaray, who paid in excess of eight million euros for him. Both players are enjoying solid seasons thusfar, Bruma in Galatasaray’s first team, Ilori in Liverpool’s youth side, while on the fringes of the first team. Here’s the entire list:
Goalkeepers: Daniel Fernandes (Osnabruck), José Sá (Marítimo), Luís Ribeiro (Sporting)
Defenders: Josué (Vitória Guimaraes), João Amorim (Vitória Guimaraes), Luís Martins (Gil Vicente), Miguel Rodrigues (Nacional), Paulo Oliveira (Vitória Guimaraes), Raphael Guerreiro (Lorient), Tiago Ilori (Liverpool)
Midfielders: André Gomes (Benfica), Tó Zé (Porto B), João Mário (Sporting B), Luís Gustavo (Rio Ave), Rafa (Braga), Sérgio Oliveira (Paços de Ferreira), Tiago Silva (Belenenses), William (Sporting)
Forwards: Betinho (Sporting B), Bruma (Galatasaray), Ivan Cavaleiro (Benfica B), Ricardo Pereira (Porto), Ricardo Esgaio (Sporting B)
Newly appointed Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has made sweeping changes at the club since his arrival. Always in favor of the youth, Rodgers has introduced a handful of Liverpool’s brightest talents into the first team. Raheem Sterling, who, even at age 17, has already earned a senior England call, and Suso, who started and impressed in Liverpool’s last game, are already making the move to Liverpool’s first team. Not only that, but they’re becoming important players for the team. This situation highlights Brendan Rodger’s youth policy. He has given chances to many youth players since arriving in the summer, and one may wonder: who’s next?
One of the main contenders to make the move to the Liverpool first team is Joao Carlos. Carlos played a central role in Sporting Lisbon’s run to the quarterfinals of last season’s NextGen Series, a sort-of U-19 Champions League. Along the way, Sporting demolished Liverpool twice, first 3-0, then 5-1. The midfielder was instrumental in both wins, most notably scoring the opening goal in the 3-0 victory. These performances, along with others throughout the team’s NextGen campaign, earned him a move to Liverpool in the winter transfer window. Since then, he has been training with the reserve team, along with the likes of Suso, Raheem Sterling, and Andre Wisdom, all of whom are playing in the first team. Now, some are wondering if Joao Carlos will be the next to roll out on the seemingly never-ending conveyor belt of young talent.
Chelsea to Fenerbahce
Raul Meireles has moved on from Chelsea and sealed a reported 8 million euro transfer to Turkish league runners-up Fenerbahce. This move comes as no surprise, as Meireles’ playing time looked all the more threatened at Chelsea. After the arrivals of Oscar, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses, and Marko Marin, Meireles would surely be scrounging for playing time. Meireles is excited by the move, saying: “I did not hesitate when I heard the interest of Fenerbahce.”