It is not unusual to see a level of disinvestment in relation to the playing squad every summer among Portugal’s major clubs, but this close season could see an unprecedented amount of top talent leave the Liga NOS.

Last night news broke that FC Porto and Portugal centre-forward André Silva was in Italy preparing to take his medical ahead of a €40m move to AC Milan. Just 24 hours earlier, Manchester United had announced that agreement had been reached with Benfica for the purchase of centre-back Victor Lindelöf from the Lisbon giants.

The two departures come on the back of the sales of Benfica goalkeeper Ederson to Manchester City, and Sporting centre-back Rúben Semedo to Villarreal.

Porto forced to sell

It is no secret that Porto’s perilous financial situation means it is inevitable its most bankable players will be sold. In October the club issued its prospective accounts for the coming year, which included forecast revenue of €115m from player sales. And on Friday UEFA imposed sanctions on the Portuguese club for failing to meet financial fair play requirements. The Dragons can only name 22 players for their Champions League squad next season, and were fined €700,000.

Nevertheless, the sale of Silva will come as a big disappointment to the club’s fans. The 21-year-old has been a big hit ever since breaking into the first team at the tail end of 2015/16. This term, his first full season, he scored 21 goals for Porto in 44 games, including four in the Champions League, while he has struck up a sensational partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo for the Seleção. In five World Cup qualifying matches together, Ronaldo and Silva have scored 17 goals, the junior partner notching six of them.

New Porto coach Sérgio Conceição seems likely to lose more players before the summer is out, with speculation linking centre-back Felipe and midfielders Herrera, Danilo and Rúben Neves with moves out of the Dragão, while goalkeeper Iker Casillas and right-back Maxi Pereira could also leave to alleviate the wage bill.

Benfica in the same boat

As for Benfica, despite the substantial revenue earned through the turnstiles after a highly successful recent spell (four straight championship triumphs), prize money coming from creditable runs in the Champions League in the last two seasons, and several huge transfer windfalls (Renato Sanches and Gonçalo Guedes, among others), the Lisbon giants remain heavily in the red.

As reported by PortuGOAL two weeks ago, Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira dropped a heavy hint that the club would now be focusing on reducing its massive debt. Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson and Swedish centre-back Victor Lindelöf have both been sold for reported fees of €40m and €35m respectively, and it may not end there, with Portugal right-back Nélson Semedo also in line to be let go in exchange for a huge transfer fee.

Sporting to follow suit

Portugal’s other major club, Sporting, may also see one or more of its top players plucked away. Promising centre-back Rúben Semedo was last week sold for €14m to La Liga outfit Villarreal, and several of the club’s best players are linked with big-money moves abroad on almost a daily basis in the press.

It would not be a huge surprise to see the departure of at least one of club captain Adrien Silva, holding midfielder William Carvalho or brilliant young winger Gelson Martins, all currently on national team duty preparing for the Confederations Cup.

by Tom Kundert

 

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  • Guest - Hello

    Really disappointed in this move for André. Another talented player leaving Portugal too soon. For the national team's sake let's hope this is more like Bernardo and Guerreiro's transfers rather than like Sanches and J.Mario.

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  • Guest - Adam

    Can someone explain some of the reasons for this amount of debt?

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  • It's a good question to ask. I am not sure myself, but there are some good articles on Benfica on the internet, which try to explain some of the reasons. If you google "Benfica and Portugal’s politics: a relationship impossible to separate" and "http://benficapodcast.com/the-financial-situation-of-the-club/" you can find these.

    Good luck

    Steve

    from Melbourne VIC, Australia
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  • Guest - Dhazer

    For me, Andre Silva is over-hyped by the media. He's just an upgrade from Nelson Oliveira. Ever since Tiquinho arrived in January, he has disappeared ever since. In the last six months, he only managed to score only one or two goals, one tap-in and one from penalty. When competition comes, he didn't stand a chance. He was fighting for the starting XI the last 6 months.

    But I'm very glad Porto made a huge sum of money from him. The Italian League and their defenses are very tough to crack. I hope he proves me wrong just like Eric Dier.

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    I actually think that this could prove to be a great move for Andre Silva. The Serie A is going to be a big step up from the Primeira Liga, and Milan, despite their recent struggles, are still a massive club with high expectations. That being said, I genuinely believe Andre has the talent and potential to develop into an elite center-forward. I don't expect him to hit the ground running right away as he still needs to polish certain areas of his game, but I do expect him to score around 20 or so goals if he can manage to stay fit. He isn't at the same level as a Dzeko, Higuain, or Icardi just yet, but he's definitely good enough to lead Milan to a top four finish.

    Also, while he did fade away a bit in the second half of the season, we cannot forget that he was asked to play in more a supportive, wide role alongside Tiquinho. The Brazilian really only shined because Andre Silva was constantly dragging defenders out of position. When Tiquinho was asked to play up top on his own in a 4-3-3, he was virtually invisible. Andre, on the other hand, is more than capable of operating as the lone center-forward in a front three or in a strike partnership in a 4-4-2. I'd take Andre over Tiquinho any day of the week since he is far more complete and versatile. Tiquinho is a one-dimensional poacher with an above average work-rate -- take away quality service and a support striker with clever movement and he becomes extremely easy to defend against.

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