Pizzi, who recently returned to Braga from his loan at Pacos Ferreira, is reportedly very close to a move to La Liga giants Atletico Madrid. Pizzi has continued his stellar form from last season at Pacos Ferreira to this pre-season with Braga, often one of their more eye-catching performers. The winger was the subject of interest from Russia, namely Zenit St.Petersburg, but the move did not materialize. Now, Atletico are swooping down to secure his signature. It won’t be cheap, though. A fee of 14 million is reported to be the agreed fee, as that is his release clause. If Pizzi does indeed join Atletico Madrid, he will be the third Portuguese acquisition of the summer for the Spanish giants, after Silvio and Tiago.
The Portuguese National Under-20 Team settled for a draw tonight against Uruguay. Both Portugal and Uruguay controlled the game from time to time and were, overall, even. Portugal showed more possession in the first half of play, but Uruguay stepped up their game in the second half and shackled Portugal’s play. Both teams came close at times, most notably when Sergio Oliveira hit the post with a marvelous free-kick, and when Uruguay’s captain, Diego Polenta, rattled the crossbar with a long-range effort.
Overall, Portugal played a defensive, possession-first game. The service to the forwards was not always the best, with Sana to be partially at fault. Danilo Pereira and Pele both excelled in their defensive midfield duties, but they would often leave Sana and Sergio Oliveira to do most of the creative attacking work in the midfield, due to their defensive approach. By far the most important aspect of the team was the defense. Nuno Reis and Roderick were water-tight, shutting down Uruguayan advances all night. The outside backs (Cedric and Luis Martins) were solid also.
Mika, Nuno Reis, Roderick, Luis Martins, Cedric, Pele (Julio Alves), Danilo Pereira, Sana (Tiago Ferreira), Sergio Oliveira, Nelson Oliveira, Rafael Lopes (Alex)
Mika: 7 : Benfica’s new signing certainly lived up to his reputation with an assured display. He always looked confident in his handling.
Nuno Reis: 7 : The pairing of Roderick and Reis complement each other well. The defense was one of Portugal’s strong-suits tonight, no doubt because of him.
Roderick: 7 : As stated above, Roderick performed well in his defensive duties, constantly breaking up plays. His range of passing was also a sight to behold.
Luis Martins: 6.5 : Martins had a solid game defensively, but I would have liked to see him attack more.
Cedric: 7 : Portugal’s number 8 had both a solid defensive and offensive game. His runs forward furthered Portugal’s attack and gave Uruguay headaches
Pele: 7 : Genoa’s new signing met all expectations. Pele is naturally a very gifted player, and it was shown tonight. He constantly got himself out of sticky situations using his skill. Along with Danilo Pereira, He anchored Portugal’s team and supplied the link between the defense and midfield.
Danilo Pereira: 7 : Much the same with Pele, Danilo fulfilled his role well, holding the midfield down with style. The only downside to his performance was his lack of attacking.
Sana: 6.5 : Virtually Portugal’s only creative midfielder, Sana was constantly on breakaways and feeding the forwards passes, only for them to make a mess of them. It must have been a frustrating night for him.
Sergio Oliveira: 6.5 : Apart from hitting the post in the second half, Porto’s midfielder didn’t do much. He hit many speculative shots, but could have helped Sana more in the midfield.
Nelson Oliveira: 6 : Overall, Nelson Oliveira did not play well. He did not play badly, but he just had a bad game. Missed an open opportunity when Sana put him through on goal in the second half, but he missed his shot.
Rafael Lopes: 5 : A very dissappointing performance from the forward, who just couldn’t find his feet. The only thing he did was make Uruguay’s players angry. He was nowhere to be seen for large chunks of time in the game.
Alex: 6.5 : The Santa Clara man came on for the ineffectual Rafael Lopes, and did better than his predecessor. He made some good passes and generally looked good on the ball. Would be a good replacement for Rafael Lopes in the coming games.
Julio Alves: 6 : Overall a very mediocre performance from Atletico Madrid’s new signing. Mind you, he did only have a handful of minutes at the end.
Tiago Ferreira: N/A : Not enough time on the field to give a rating.
Atletico Madrid midfielder, Tiago, has unexpectedly announced his retirement from the Portuguese National Team. Tiago has featured for the senior squad since his debut in 2002, and has since appeared over fifty times, while scoring three goals. Tiago’s reasoning for his retirement? Here’s what he had to say: “I’m retiring for personal reasons but also because I believe it’s the end of a cycle concerning my contribution to the Seleccao. I also believe the moment has arrived to give the opportunity to new talents of Portuguese football, just like I had eight years ago.”
Tiago said it well, although not many would have expected him to retire at such a young age as 29. Possibly the highlight of Tiago’s international career came this summer in Portugal’s World Cup group stage match against North Korea. The center-midfielder scored two goals in the Seleccao’s 7-0 annihilation of the Koreans. Not only did he score two, but he was a bright spot in an otherwise muddy campaign for the team.
Current Portugal National team coach, Paulo Bento, also had something to say on the matter: “I respect Tiago’s decision, but naturally I lament it. He’s a good player who could still do positive things for the Seleccao. He has a rich past in the national team. I thank him for what he did for the Seleccao.”
According to reports coming out of Spain, Benfica and Real Madrid have come to agreement for the sale of Fabio Coentrao to Real Madrid this summer. Evidently, Benfica will reject all other offers for the winger. In return, Real will pay Benfica 30 million euros for the player. Just Monday, Liverpool were said to be close to sealing a move for Coentrao, but now, it looks as if Real Madrid have stepped in front of them. Coentrao was one of the Seleccao’s stand-out performers at this past summer’s World Cup, and has since attracted the interest from Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona, and Real Madrid, just to name a few.
Real Madrid central defender, Pepe, is reportedly a transfer target for Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Barcelona, after contract discussions have slowed. Pepe wants his current salary to be more-than tripled to a 6 million euro per year deal. Real is only willing to offer him five, so the negotiations have stalled. Manchester United are looking for an experienced replacement for the injury-prone Rio Ferdinand. Manchester City are interested in everyone at the moment, but the citizens may be one of the only clubs that can meet him financial demands. Pepe has been at the heart of the Real Madrid defense this season, forging an iron-clad partnership with Ricardo Carvalho. With Pepe’s contract set to expire in 2012, it may be the time for him to leave.
Hugo Almeida, who is currently locked in contract negotiations at Werder Bremen, is reportedly ‘proud’. Almeida has not been contacted by the club, according to him, but he is still proud, nevertheless, of the interest. Real are searching for a replacement for Higuain, who will be out injured for some time. Panathinaikos and Lazio are also interested.
Former Porto, Werder Bremen, and Juventus midfielder Diego has laid heaps of praise on Portugal National Team and Werder Bremen striker Hugo Almeida. Diego, who currently plays for Wolfsburg, is glad that Almeida is not to play when Wolfsburg and Bremen meet this weekend. “Hugo Almeida is one of the best strikers in the league,” stated the Brazilian. Almeida is currently under speculation regarding a move away from Bremen this winter, with Lazio, Juventus, and Real Madrid all interested.
Despite it being quite far away from any transfer window, the rumors are still heating up. So, here are the major stories:
1. Ruben Pinto Tracked by Arsenal
The Portuguese Under-19 captain is currently being tracked by Premier League giants Arsenal. Pinto, who models his style of play after Rui Costa, has recently turned down other offers to the Premier League. He has, however, a contract tying him down to Benfica until 2012, so a move probably won’t be likely. Ruben has fancied a move to the Premier League for some time now, and with his heroics against Spain in this last Euro U-19 tournament, maybe that move can finally happen.
2. Milan Keeping Tabs on Coentrao and Periera
Italian giants A.C. Milan are allegedly watching Portuguese National Team fullbacks Joao Pereira and Fabio Coentrao. Coentrao was a bright spot in Portugal’s muddy World Cup campaign, and has since become a vital player for Benfica. He currently is tied to Benfica with a release clause of 30 million pounds. Joao Pereira moved from Braga to Sporting Lisbon earlier this year, and has since impressed enough to earn a call-up to the National Team.
3. Juventus in Miguel Veloso Swap Deal
Juventus are supposedly making a deal with Genoa for the trade of Sissoko and Miguel Veloso. The deal would see Miguel Veloso leave Genoa, who he joined in the summer, and meet up with Juventus, who was tracking him earlier this year. I do not foresee this move happening.
4. Pedro Marques to Make Portugal Switch
Real Madrid C midfielder Pedro Marques is reportedly being watched by Olhanense. Olhanense are currently third in the Liga Zon Sagres, having enjoyed an impressive start to their second consecutive season in the Portuguese top-flight. Marques has been playing in Spain for some time now, but it has been speculated that Olhanense want his services.
5. Chelsea Want Pepe in 2012
Following Pepe’s statement that he plans to leave Real Madrid in 2012 whan his contract is up, Chelsea have come out and said that they want him for free in 2012. Pepe has been rock-solid in his partnership with Ricardo Carvalho not only at Real Madrid, but also for the Seleccao.
A lot has been happening lately involving transfers, and it seems that the more that happens, the less time I have to report on it. Here’s the brunt of it.
Portuguese Under-21 international Pizzi has been loaned from Braga to fellow Liga Zon Sagres Pacos Ferreira. The 20 year-old was on loan to Pacos for half of last season, and after some intense negotiations, Braga have decided to loan him out again, this time for the entire 2010-2011 season.
Benfica starlet Nelson Oliveira has apparently swapped a loan move from Rio Ave to Pacos Ferreira. Originally, Oliveira was to play for Rio Ave for the 2010-2011 season, but it has now surfaced that the Portuguese Under-19 international will now be playing for Pacos de Ferreira instead. Why? I don’t know.
FC Porto youngster Sergio Oliveira will spend next season on loan to Liga Zon Sagres newcomers Beira-Mar. Oliveira was quite impressive in the recent UEFA U-19 championships, scoring against Italy.
Danilo Periera, who recently impressed with the Portugal Under-19 side at the UEFA Euro U-19 Championship, has recently been touted to move to Serie A, specifically Genoa and Parma. Parma somehow came out on top and Pereira is tied to them for the next 5 years. Supposedly he will be unveiled tomorrow.
Portuguese World Cup star Tiago has, once again, been loaned to Europa League champions Atletico Madrid from Juventus. Quique Flores, the Atleico coach, struggled to get Tiago again after an impressive spell last season.Tiago thoroughly approved the move, saying that Atletico is the only team he would consider moving to.
Raul Meireles was suprisingly left out of Porto’s squad for their upcoming Europa League match, further fueling the transfer speculation surrounding him. Sir Alex Ferguson is apparently searching for a replacement for the aging Paul Scholes. After he failed at his bid for German midfielder Ozil, Sir Alex has now shifted his attention to Raul Meireles. Meireles was one of Portugal’s bright points at this summer’s World Cup, and Chelsea were apparently on the verge of signing him this summer, but the deal fell through.
Ricardo Carvalho has all but completed an 8-million dollar transfer from English champions Chelsea to Spaniash runners-up Real Madrid. Carvalho, who has been at Chelsea since 2004, is on the verge of a transfer to the Bernabeu. The Portuguese international was nurtured as a center-back under the Mourinho-era at Porto, where he won almost everything from the Portuguese League to the UEFA Cup to the Champions League. When Mourinho left for Chelsea, he made it a point to bring Carvalho to Stamford Bridge. There he became a regular in the first team, cementing a reputation as one of the top defenders playing in the Premier League. After the emergence of Alex, Carvalho found it more difficult to find playing time. So, when Mourinho, who had already left, moved again to Real Madrid, he made it a point to grab the defender.