The heartbeat of the Besiktas’ midfield is Manuel Fernandes. There is no arguing that. Since joining the Turkish team on loan from Valencia in January 2011, Fernandes has come-of-age. His performances on loan were of such a high standard that at the end of the season, Besiktas opted to purchase him outright. Since then, he has been transformed from a talented player to a talisman for the Turkish team. The midfielder has scored six in all competitions this season, including two in his last two matches. He has also assisted countless others, which has helped him cement himself as one of Besiktas’s most important players.
While Manuel Fernandes’ talent has been undeniable, contract disputes and injuries have hampered any sort of consistency. Fernandes broke onto the scene for Benfica in the 2003-2004 season. In only his second game for the club, he scored, making him the second youngest goalscorer for the club. He soon established himself as an important member of the team, and, in the process, picked up his first cap for Portugal. After two loan spells abroad, both in England (for Portsmouth and Everton), Valencia snapped him up for a fee of around 18 million euros. At Valencia, injuries hampered his natural progress. After failing to make Unai Emery’s plans last season, he joined Besiktas on loan from January until the end of the season. After a successful half-season at the Turkish club, he was bough outright for 2 million euros. Since then, he has established himself as one of the finest midfielders playing in Turkey, and is considered by many to be a shoo-in for the Euro 2012 squad.
His fine performances for Besiktas have not gone unnoticed. Real Madrid and Tottenham are both said to be courting the midfielder. Reports coming out of Turkey even suggest that a 17 million pound deal has already been agreed between Tottenham and Besiktas for the midfielder. Though these reports appear to be untrue, a similar deal may not be too far off.
It is finally official. Olhanense winger Salvador Agra has signed for La Liga side Real Betis. There had been speculation as to whether or not the deal had actually gone through, but all doubts were vanquished whan the Olhanense president confirmed the transfer. Agra won’t meet up with his new teammates just yet, however. The winger is poised to finish the season with the Portuguese club. Real Betis grabbed the winger for a fee of 200,000 euros, and Olhanense still hold 10% of his rights.
Olhanense winger Salvador Agra has reportedly passed a medical ahead of a move to La Liga side Real Betis. Betis had been interested in the player, and had had two bids rejected. Now, however, the Spanish club has had an offer accepted. The amount of the transfer remains unclear. One outlet reports 200,000 euros, while another reports 500,000. It also remains unclear whether or not the U-21 international will join Betis immediately, or remain at Olhanense for the rest of the season. Regardless, Salvador Agra has passed his medical and is excruciatingly close to completing a move to Real Betis.
There almost always seems to be more rumors during the transfer window than actual deals. This season has not been an exception, and with the rumors flying in, here are some of the more notable ones.
Olhanense to Real Betis?
Salvador Agra has been nothing short of a revelation for Olhanense this season. The winger, who can also be deployed as a striker, joined Olhanense from Varzim at the beginning of the season. Not much was expected of him, at least not as much as he as shown. Though he has only scored once thus far this season, he has proved himself as a vital piece of the team through his lively and smart play. Other clubs have not ignored this. Real Betis look to be front-runners for his signature. Osasuna and Koln have all said to be interested recently, and Betis even had an offer rejected. Olhanense has stated that they do not plan to sell the winger, regardless of the price.
Porto to Roma?
Another winger that may be on his way out of Portugal is Silvestre Varela. Varela was in spectacular form last season, and was one of the reasons that Porto were as successful as they were. This season, under new coach Vitor Pereira, Varela has found playing time much too hard to come by. The arrival of Djalma from Maritimo in the off season has reduced his playing time further, and talk of winger Yannick Djalo joining the club may just be the last straw. Varela is fed up with sitting on the sidelines, which will undoubtedly hinder his chances of making the Portuguese squad for Euro 2012. Roma’s ears have perked up at all of this talk. The Italian giants are said to have made Varela their number one target.
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.
On Portugoal.net recently, an interesting opinion article was written about whether Fabio Coentrao’s talents should best be used in Portugal’s midfield, instead of its defense. This is a very interesting point, as Coentrao has began to have been used as a central midfielder at Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho.
Real Betis youngster Fabio Lopes is set for a move to A.C. Milan, according to reports coming out of Portugal. The 18 year-old has been dubbed the new Rui Costa by many news sources, which is quite a comparison to live up to. A.C. Milan have reportedly agreed a deal, and a medical has been passed, but final stipulations must be ironed out to complete the move. Juventus, Parma, Ajax, and PSV were all said to be interested also, but it appears that Milan will snatch the youngster up. Lopes is currently playing with Betis’s youth team. “I hope I can reach an agreement with AC Milan in order to join the team. However, if negotiations do not run as expected, other alternatives have in Italy. I feel very motivated though things are not yet fully confirmed. I’m still waiting for an answer,” Lopes said. If Lopes indeed joins Milan, he will be the team’s third Portuguese acquisition this summer after Ricardo Ferreira joined from Porto and Pele joined from Genoa.
With his contract due to expire at the end of the season, Ricardo Carvalho is attracting the interest of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. As with every international break, rumors have ran rampant. These rumors are usually completely false, but nonetheless interesting. Ricardo Carvalho has fit in well at Real Madrid since joining from Chelsea at the beginning of last season. In fact, he has become one of La Liga’s most dependable and best center-backs. After picking up 33 appearances for the Spanish giants last term, many doubts of his ability due to his advanced age were rubbished. He has proved that he is still one of the finest defenders playing at the moment. His contract is due to expire in June of 2012, and Russian big-spenders Anzhi, Turkish giants Fenerbahce, and Italian champions are all keeping an eye on him.
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.
Fernando Meira has completed his move from Russian powerhouse Zenit to La Liga strugglers Real Zaragoza. Meira has found playing time very hard to come by at the Russian club, especially upon the arrival of compatriot Bruno Alves. Fernando had been linked with a number of clubs, most notably Juventus, but the moves never materialized. The central defender will now ply his trade in Spain as he attempts to end his career on a high note.