Portugal: A Team in Transition


Fernando Santos - Portugal

On Friday, Fernando Santos will name the Portugal squad to face France on September 4th (international friendly) and Albania on September 7th (Euro 2016 Qualification). With both the U-21’s strong showing at the U-21 Euro and the U-20 team’s impressive run at the U-20 World Cup this summer, the Portuguese National Team are in transition. With young prospects such as Bernardo Silva, João Mário, and Ivan Cavaleiro now becoming integral parts of their club teams, will Fernando Santos begin to ween them into the national team setup? Will they become stalwarts of the Seleção, or will Santos favor older, more experienced players? These questions highlight the conundrum that Portuguese football is facing; one of how to go about this transition. Continue reading

João Cancelo’s Valencia Loan Made Permanent


Photo: Valencia CF

Photo: Valencia CF

João Cancelo

Benfica to Valencia

Valencia CF announced today their definitive purchase of Benfica’s João Cancelo. Cancelo played in Spain all season at Valencia, where he was on loan from the Portuguese giants. As part of the loan deal, Valencia had the option to purchase Cancelo outright for 15 million euros, and though the final price of the deal has not been announced, it is believed to be 15 million.

This deal represents yet another sale of a talented young player for big profit, following in the footsteps of André Gomes and Bernardo Silva. Gomes was at most a bench player at Benfica, but has since thrived at Valencia. Silva had yet to even break into the first team at Benfica, but his 15 million euro move to Monaco has proven a tidy bit of business for the French club, after some increasingly impressive performances. If this deal is to be compared to that of Gomes and Silva, we can expect big things from João Cancelo in the near future.

Of the deal, Cancelo said: “[I am] very happy to continue at Valencia CF, whom I hope to help for a long time to come. I will always carry Benfica in my heart, but now my biggest dream is to continue giving my best for Valencia CF, growing with the team and repaying the great confidence that the club have shown in me.” (Valencia CF) His deal runs until 2021.

Fernando Santos Ushers in a New Era


Fernando SantosNewly-appointed Portuguese National Team head coach Fernando Santos announced today the squad to face France and Denmark on the 11th and 14th, respectively. And it is quite a breath of fresh air. Formerly exiled/ignored players such as Jose Fonte, Adrien Silva, Danny, Quaresma, and Ricardo Carvalho under Bento have been given a call by Santos. That, combined with new players such as Cedric, Joao Mario, and Ivo Pinto, gives Fernando Santos’s Portugal a fresh feel.Bento’s so-called “old guard” appear to be on the way out. Players like Raul Meireles, Ricardo Costa, Joao Pereira, Helder Postiga, and Hugo Almeida were omitted from the squad, making way for younger, newer players. Continue reading

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

Joao Cancelo Joins Valencia on Loan


Photo: Valencia CF

Photo: Valencia CF

Joao Cancelo

Benfica to Valencia (loan)

Benfica’s young right-back Joao Cancelo has joined La Liga side Valencia on a season-long loan from Benfica, the Spanish club have announced. Cancelo is already training with the team and will be presented later today. It is believed that the arrival of Cancelo will spell the end of Joao Pereira’s time at Valencia, with the veteran right-back reportedly on the out.

This move comes after a summer of speculation about Joao Cancelo’s future. Pacos Ferreira were reportedly very close to securing a loan deal earlier in the summer, but that deal fell through. More recently, it was announced that Meriton Capital Limited, Valencia’s soon-to-be owner Peter Lim’s company, purchased the rights to Cancelo as well as Bernardo Silva and Ivan Cavaleiro. With little reported on this supposed purchase, it is difficult to determine its legitimacy. But if it is true, it comes as little surprise, as Peter Lim recently purchased the rights to two other Benfica players, Andre Gomes and Rodrigo.

The Spanish club’s new coach, Nuno Espirito Santo, is known from his time coaching Rio Ave to have strong ties to Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes. Mendes has brokered deals for players such as David Luis, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Angel Di Maria in the past, and much of Nuno’s Rio Ave side were represented by Mendes’ agency, Gestifute. Andre Gomes, Rodrigo, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo, and Ivan Cavaleiro are all represented by Mendes, which will guarantee them big moves in the future, but not necessarily playing time.

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.

Transfer Round-up – 1/26/14


Pedro Mendes - SassuoloPedro Mendes

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.

Hugo Vieira - BragaHugo Vieira

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.

Betinho - Vitoria SetubalBetinho

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.

Salvador Agra - AcademicaSalvador Agra

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.

Andre GomesAndre Gomes

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.

Youngsters Draw Poland


Portugal 1-1 Poland (U21)

The Portuguese Under-21 picked up an unlucky point against Poland in their second match of Euro 2013 qualification. The game started off perfectly for the home side, with Pedro Mendes heading in a Josue cross to give Portugal an early 1-0 lead. That goal was virtually the first thing of note to occur in the match. Instead of dropping back in intensity as we have seen much too often, the team pressed forward. Wilson Eduardo came close after a brilliant turn and pass from Sana set him up, but he lifted his shot above the goal. Portugal then came within a whisker away from doubling their lead. A curling cross from the left was sent in, and the youngster’s deft header clipped the crossbar as it bounced out. Poland then surprised everyone when they grabbed a goal to level the scores at 1-1. Some sloppy defending and some neat link-up play gave Poland a shock equaliser. Not at all put off, Portugal continued their charge forward. Wilson Eduardo was next to join the list of misses, and his was certainly the worst. After a blatantly errant back pass from a Pole, Wilson Eduardo was one-on-one with the opposition goalkeeper, only to be brought down by the keeper in the box. The referee made no hesitation as he showed the keeper red and pointed to the spot. Wilson Eduardo stepped up and struck the penalty, which hit the left-hand upright post and rolled agonizingly close along the goalmouth to the opposite side. Portugal continued their dominance, but luck was not on their side. Wilson Eduardo tried two speculative efforts, but they fizzed wide and high, respectively. After Diogo Viana’s well-struck free kick was saved by the Polish goalkeeper, Andre Almeida came agonizingly close to sealing the win for the Seleccao. A fine cross was sent in from the right, which picked up Andre Almeida’s run perfectly. The midfielder’s header cannoned back off the upright. That miss summed up the night for Portugal, who just couldn’t find Lady Luck. The final score: 1-1. Portugal may not have won, but the skill and understanding of the players is an encouraging sign. With some work, this team has the ability to be great.

Mika, Cedric, Pedro Mendes, Joao Pereira, Mario Rui, Andre Almeida, Andre Martins(David Simao), Sana(Nelson Oliveira), Josue, Wilson Eduardo(Diogo Viana), Rui Fonte

Pedro Mendes Included in Champions League Squad


Youngster Pedro Mendes has been included by Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho in the team’s champions league roster. His inclusion comes as a surprise as he is currently playing for Real Madrid Castilla (the club’s B team) on loan from Sporting Lisbon. The defender featured for the team in preseason, but, to no one’s surprise, has failed to feature since. He is competing for a spot in the team against the likes of Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe, Raul Albiol, and Raphael Varane, among others. His inclusion shows the faith that Mourinho has in him, faith that the coach made quite clear when the loan was secured.

Jose Mourinho Interested in Pedro Mendes


According to reports coming out of Portugal, Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho is interested in acquiring Pedro Mendes’s services. This Pedro Mendes is not the one that played for Portugal in last summer’s World Cup. This Pedro Mendes currently plays for Sporting Lisbon, after returning from his loan last season to Servette. According to the reports, Jose Mourinho sees immense potential in the 20 year-old. Standing at 1.84 meters, he is the perfect size for a central defender. Mourinho is interested in snapping him up and putting him in Madrid’s B team for further development. Mourinho is obviously very interested in the player, but as to whether the move will be a loan or a permanent one remains to be seen.