As January transfer window approaches, we can see signs of big name signings and transfers around the football world.
The Portuguese Primeira Liga, over the years, is known for having produced some of the most brilliant and expensive transfers in season after season.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Hulk, Falcao, Moutinho, James Rodriguez, Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe, Di Maria, Fabio Coentrão, Witsel, David Luiz, Javi Garcia and many more, were all transferred to big clubs for sums ranging between 20 and 60 million Euros.
This article was a guest piece by Portuguese writer, Bruno Miguel Espalha @BrunoMEspalha. Author of Objective Barcelona: How to beat the most powerful team in the World.
For this reason, I am going to analyse players who could be on the verge of a big transfer in January or at the end of the season.
The 32-year old Brazilian goalkeeper from Benfica may leave the club at the end of the season. The experienced keeper lost a lot of his credit due to the loss of three titles in a row for Benfica, and some supporters insist on blaming the keeper for those losses. After being named as the best Brazilian keeper in Europe after arriving at Benfica, he was also considered the best Europa League goalkeeper when he played for Braga and reached the cup final.
Artur Moraes is an excellent goalkeeper with extraordinary ball handling skills, outstanding reflexes and more often than not, he’s calm and composed in a one-on-one situation, which made him known as “King Artur” or “Ice Mountain” among his peers. His performances have been praised by Alex Ferguson, Rafa Benitez and also Claudio Taffarel.
The 24-year old Serbian player was elected in the 2012/2013 season as the best player of the Portuguese Primeira Liga. Playing as a holding midfielder, Matic can thrust forward with the same ability that he can cover his defence. After a season in the shadow of Javi Garcia and Axel Witsel, Matic proved to be the revelation of Primeira Liga last season.
Standing at 1.92 metres with never-ending legs, he is capable of regaining possession for his team in situations where no other players would dare to make a move. The Serbian was also gifted with a talented left-foot and can dribble with sufficient quality enabling him to initiate attacking moves as soon as he recovers the ball. He’s not the typical holding midfielder and can also play in a more advanced role in the midfield.
The 19-year old youngster from Sporting Club de Portugal is the revelation of this season in the Portuguese Liga. Another holding midfielder, William Carvalho’s style of play is often compared to Patrick Vieira. He acts like a vacuum cleaner, destroying all the plays in his range. In the second-leg playoff match between Sweden and Portugal, he came on as a substitute to shore up the area ahead of Portugal centre-backs. Sweden’s attacking power was dried out almost immediately. To add to this, Carvalho has good physical presence, helping him secure a few goals from corner kicks and set-pieces.
If his consistency lasts for a whole season, he could make his way to the starting lineup for Portugal in the World Cup 2014. Having that in mind, the end of the season might be the best time to make a bid for the talented midfielder, given that, after the World Cup his value might be much higher.
FC Porto’s Brazilian holding midfielder’s contract is set to expire in June 2014, so January may be the last opportunity Porto has to make some money out of this deal. He’s known in Portugal as “The Octopus”, for his ability to secure the area ahead of the centre-backs and steal the ball from the opponents sometimes making it look like he has more than two legs.
Fernando has recently developed offensively, which has resulted in some goals this season. He will obtain Portuguese citizenship in the coming months which makes him a suitable target for EPL clubs and leagues with heavier restrictions on non-EU players.
At the age of 27, this holding midfielder, with his exquisite physical skills would fit perfectly in the playing style of a hard-working mid-table Premiership team. He can provide defensive coverage to the centre-backs but can also play a box-to-box role in a three-man midfield.
Tall, strong and courageous, he never gives up when chasing a ball. A hard tackler but loyal, Gonçalo is in the right age to make a move. It’s now or never for him.
Another Colombian wonder-striker, Jackson Martinez is keen to leave Porto if a good offer is put on the table. Following the footsteps of Radamel Falcao, Jackson Martinez arrived at Porto with a lot of expectation upon him. In the first season he lived up to it, scoring a whopping 31 goals in 43 games in all competitions.
This season his total adds up to 11 goals in 18 games for his club (at the time of writing). At the age of 27, the end of the season may be his last chance to grab a millionaire contract in another league.
This 25-year old Brazilian left-back, arrived this season at Sporting Lisbon after producing wonderful performances in Estoril Praia last season, one of the wonder teams from Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Capable of running up-and-down the flank for a whole game, this tireless left-back is also the owner of a powerful and precise left-foot that has already made some damage this season with killer crosses and free-kicks, providing lethal assists to the his club’s strikers.
Leal is an offensive powerhouse, resembling Jermaine Defoe in his best years. Gifted with explosive pace, a thunderous strike and fabulous physical skills, he is the only player from Estoril Praia to have scored in all the competitions his team entered this season. After a season of thrilling performances in the last Portuguese Primeira Liga, Luís Leal is ready to make the move for a bigger stage and French Ligue 1 teams like Lyon, Montpellier and Lille have reportedly make some inquiries about the Portuguese forward.
If the offer placed over the table is the right one, Leal may leave Estoril Praia in January. His playing style would fit perfectly in a Premiership team that favours quick counter-attacks. Another plus is the thunderous free-kicks he can shoot past the keeper.