Braga Youngster on His Way to France


Gil Dias - Braga U19

Gil Dias

SC Braga to AS Monaco

According to reports, Braga youth prospect Gil Dias has agreed to a January transfer to Ligue 1 outfit AS Monaco for a fee believed to be around 5 million euros. Earlier in the season, there were hints that a deal had already been agreed between the two clubs, and that Dias would spend the first half of the season in Portugal before moving to France in January. More recent reports suggest that that rumor may turn out to be true, with Dias set to join fellow countrymen Bernardo Silva, Joao Moutinho, and Ricardo Carvalho at Monaco soon. Continue reading

Granada Signs Luis Martins


Luis Martins - Gil Vicente

Luis Martins

Gil Vicente to Granada

Portugal U-21 captain Luis Martins has sealed a move abroad to Spain, signing for La Liga side Granada on a four-season deal. The left-back had been at Gil Vicente ever since January of 2013, when he arrived from Benfica. At Gil Vicente, Martins established himself as the team’s first-choice left back, a status that he held for his entire time at the club. There is no fee announced for the transfer, but it is expected that Luis Martins will be at least a regular team member at Granada. The Spanish team had been searching for a left-back for some time, and Martins is who they chose.

Benfica Seal Eliseu Deal


Eliseu-Benfica

Eliseu

Malaga to Benfica

Benfica have dove further into the transfer market with the signing of Malaga’s Eliseu. The left-back has been linked with the Portuguese club ever since 2012, when Benfica were reportedly very close to agreeing a deal. Now, Eliseu will be reunited with Jorge Jesus, who coached him at Belenenses in 2007, and looks likely to fight for the starting left-back spot with fellow new signing Loris Benito. The left-back has signed a two-season deal with an option of a third season depending on performances.

Eliseu has been at the heart of a very topsy-turvy Malaga side in recent years. A regular before the club was bought out by oil-rich Middle-eastern tycoons, Eliseu nevertheless retained his starting position when the club began to strengthen around him. In fact, he established himself as one of Malaga’s finest assets, most notably in the club’s run to the semi-finals of the Champions League two seasons ago. Despite this, he has never truly won over Portugal National Team boss Paulo Bento, who has omitted Eliseu from the majority of squads despite his excellent performances at the highest level. Not known for his openness to change, it comes as little surprise that Bento is so averse to calling up Eliseu, but with the left-back at 30 years old and his best years behind him, the question goes begging: What if?

Having said all of that, Eliseu’s career is not over. Not by a long shot. Though he had a sub-par season last time out, Eliseu still has talent that while it may not be brought to the national team, can surely be utilized at Benfica. Jorge Jesus has a knack of getting the best out of players, so maybe we’ll all be surprised.

Porto Sells Tiago Ferreira


photo courtesy voetbalkrant.com

photo courtesy voetbalkrant.com

Tiago Ferreira 

Porto to Zulte Waregem

Porto B‘s long-serving captain Tiago Ferreira has been sold by the club to Zulte Waregem, a Belgian Pro League club. Ferreira, who has captained the B-team for two seasons, is seen by many to be one of Portuguese football’s top prospects. Only 21, the center defender has two seasons with Porto B under his belt, as well as appearances at two FIFA U-20 World Cups and a couple of U-21 caps. Much is expected of Ferreira, so the question goes begging: Why let him leave?

The answer is a simple one, rooted in a fundamental change in big-club operations in recent years. Ferreira has signed with the Belgian team on a 4-year contract. Though it has not been confirmed, it may be assumed that this transfer is similar to that of Josue. Josue was an equally precocious talent during his youth days at Porto, but was sold to Pacos Ferreira. Under the agreement of sale, Porto retained the right to purchase back Josue at a set price whenever they wanted to. And after two seasons at Pacos, Josue was re-purchased by Porto, where he was largely in the first team. It proved a successful tactic for Porto, who could viably develop their prospects who were not yet developed enough for the first team. And it is more advantageous than a simple loan, as selling a player to a club and having the player stay at that club for more than one season allows him to settle in better and become a valued member of the team.

So, why Zulte? Why not another team in Portugal? There is no easy answer to this, but one may speculate that Ferreira was sold to Zulte due to the club’s rising stature in European football. The club greatly benefited from the presence of Thorgan Hazard, the brother of Belgian star Eden, over the past two seasons. His 14 goals last season helped the club to a 4th placed finish, earning them a Europa League qualification play-off tie. So with Europa League football a strong possibility at a club where Ferreira can conceivably nail down a starting position, this move was an ideal one for Porto. Who knows? If this goes well, we could very well see Tiago Ferreira playing for the Seleccao in two years time.

Ricardo Horta Moves to Spain


Ricardo Horta - Malaga

Ricardo Horta

Vitoria Setubal to Malaga

After negotiations began this week, Malaga have completed a deal for the purchase of Vitoria Setubal’s Ricardo Horta on a 5-year contract. The winger impressed last season at Vitoria Setubal, appearing 34 times in the league and scoring 7 in the process. Still only aged 19 years old, Horta will hope to build on last season’s success at Setubal. And with a reported fee of around 1 million euros, Vitoria Setubal have been compensated well, though they will surely be ruing his decision to leave the club. With such positive performances at just 19, one can only imagine what he would have accomplished this season, should he have stayed in Portugal. But now, Spain is his home. Malaga have a good record over the past seasons for developing young talent, or at the very least gifting young players first-team opportunities. And that’s exactly what Horta needs.

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.

Braga Active in Transfer Market


Sergio Conciecao recently took charge at Braga

Sergio Conciecao recently took charge at Braga

Sporting Braga are looking to put a disappointing season behind them. After the arrival of club legend and proven tactician Jesualdo Ferreira at the beginning of last season, much was expected of the team. But after a string of bad results, the Minho club found themselves at 9th place in the league by the end of the season, their worst finish since the 2002-2003 season. And that finish was all the worse as Braga was not even present in European competition, after failing to qualify for the Europa League(knocked out in the play-off by Romanian side Pandurii).

This season looks to go better. Antonio Salvador, the frugal and competent president of the club, immediately signed Sergio Conceicao as the head coach. Conceicao, who was a regular for the national team during his playing days, joined from Academica, where he guided the team to an 8th place finish. Since taking charge at Braga, Conceicao  has made a number of transfers, most notably of Danilo Barbosa da Silva, who is a highly-regarded Brazilian midfield prospect, and Matheus Magalhaes, a 21-year old Brazilian goalkeeper.

Fabio Martins is coming off a stellar first season at Desporto Aves

Fabio Martins is coming off a stellar first season at Desporto Aves

But Conceicao is not just looking to Brazilian talent. Aves winger Fabio Martins is another of Conceicao’s recruits. Martins joins after an impressive season for Aves, where he managed 33 league appearances, helping the team to an impressive 4th placed finish in the Segunda Liga. A product of Porto’s youth academy, Martins made his senior debuts in the 2012-2013 season for Porto’s B team, appearing 29 times for the team. After that season, Aves signed Martins on a free transfer, and with another impressive season under his belt, he looks set to join Braga and show his skills on a larger stage.

Carlos Fortes will be looking to lead Braga B's attack next season

Carlos Fortes will be looking to lead Braga B’s attack next season

With the advent of the B-team system in Portugal two seasons ago, teams such as Braga, Benfica, and Sporting (among others) had the opportunity to give their younger players valuable playing time in the Segunda Liga while also keeping them close enough to track and influence their development. Benfica, Porto, and Sporting have all found success with their B-teams, with all three finishing well last season. Braga’s team was not as fortunate. Only managing a 20th place finish, the Minho team barely escaped a disastrous season. Braga is a team that has historically not been gifted with many financial resources, and their lack of investment in the B-team last season shows the lack of resources perfectly. Likely looking to build the team and the future of the club, Conceicao has signed 19 year old Portuguese striker Carlos Fortes from Spanish club Racing Santander. Fortes had spells with various youth teams in Portugal before moving to Spain. In Spain, though he did not manage a single senior appearance for Santander, Fortes caught the attention of the Portuguese U-20s coach. The striker went on to make three appearances for the U-20 team. There is every indication that Fortes is set to join Braga’s B team and spearhead their attack next season. This signing, coupled with players promoted from the U-19 youth team (who won the Portuguese U-19 championship last season), may prove to be exactly what the team needs.

Carrico Getting His Career Back on Track


photo courtesy foxsportsasia.com

photo courtesy foxsportsasia.com

Daniel Carrico

Reading to Sevilla

According to sources coming out of Portugal, Daniel Carrico has signed for Sevilla, after the club met his release clause of 1.8 million euros from Reading. The defender had been on loan from the English club for the entirety of last season, and after some impressive performances, Sevilla decided to make the move a permanent one. Now, Carrico can look to the future and attempt to put a nightmare-ish last two seasons behind him. Initially touted as Portugal’s golden boy when he burst onto the scene at Sporting during the 2008-2009 season, Carrico became a victim of Sporting’s fall from grace. Loss of favor from Sporting’s managers coupled with injury meant that Carrico has found it tough until recently. At Sevilla this past season, though, Carrico has flourished as the side impressed in La Liga and were eventual champions of the Europa League. It will be interesting to see if this move helps Carrico’s chances of playing for the National Team.

Paulo Machado Moves to Croatia


Paulo Machado - Olympiakos

Paulo Machado

Olympiakos to Dinamo Zagreb

(4.5 million euros)

For a fee of around 4.5 million, Paulo Machado is swapping Greece for Croatia. According to multiple reports, the Portuguese midfielder has signed for Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb, where he will join fellow compatriots Ruben Lima and Ivo Pinto. Machado joined Olympiakos in 2012, and has enjoyed success at the Greek Club, twice winning the Greek SuperLeague title. In and out of the national team setup, it will be interesting to see how this move affects Machado’s playing time for the Seleccao. My first thought is that it will do more harm than good.