From the home of Mourinho, Ronaldo and Xavier
Amigos, the first word that comes to my mind is ‘wow’. It’s a well-documented fact that the January transfer window can spice things up but there were so many unexpected moves around Europe that one cannot help but feel a little bit flustered.
Anyway, though Portugal didn’t witness any Torres-esque manoeuvres in the dark, there was some activity worthy of discussion.
Should I stay or should I go?
The David Luiz saga has come to an end after Chelsea and Benfica finally reached an agreement that suited both sides. Two days ago it seemed the deal was off after Benfica signalled to the stock exchange that they had pulled the plug on the protracted deal. However, conversations were resumed yesterday and the highly-rated, crazy-haired Brazilian defender will be joining Fernando Torres to give the Blues a major boost for their title challenge.
According to most media outlets, Chelsea will pay €20 million plus €5 million in future incentives and 22 year-old Nemanja Matic - who will join the squad in the summer – as part of the deal. I've already shared my thoughts on the Luiz transfer, but now that everything is set in stone let me tell you how I feel about the one part of the deal we didn't see coming.
Every now and then I like to keep tabs on Amazon for books, video games and all sorts of random paraphernalia - and I usually have to pay postage and shipping. To Chelsea, that’s what Matic is: little more than cheap postage and shipping to sweeten the deal. For some reason, Benfica took the offer, though one is left wondering whether there is any real strategy behind that capture.
Benfica's replacement for Luiz, Olhanense centre half Jardel, made his debut against Liga Orangina side Aves for the League Cup and didn’t look half-bad. He’s still some way off causing the supporters to forget Luiz, but he’ll have time to hone his skills during the remainder of the season.
Farewell ‘Slender One’
Liédson says goodbye to Sporting after the club agreed to sell him to Brazilian side Corinthians, the team he played before joining the Lions.
It will be strange to watch Sporting without their mercurial striker, one of the most prolific to have appeared in the Portuguese league in recent times, amassing a total of 171 goals over a seven year and a half span. He was (and will continue to be) idolised by the Sporting faithful, feared and respected by the opponents and his departure is, understandably, a loss to the club.
Still, once the emotions are shrugged off, it is easy to see this was the best time to part ways. At 33, his output isn’t quite what it used to be, and with Corinthians willing to cough up €2.1 million for a player on wages of around €110K a week, it’s obvious that financially speaking this was a good bit of business for Sporting.
The problem is they didn’t take any major steps to cover the loss to the playing staff. Continuing their lacklustre trend of the past few years, they signed former PAOK attacking midfielder Cristiano on a free. Cristiano played for Paços de Ferreira between 2006 and 2009 before seeking greener pastures and he now returns to the Portuguese top flight to play for his former manager.
Sporting also tried to secure the services of Kléber – the much sought-after striker that will more likely fade into oblivion than land on Porto or Sporting’s doorstep, and Marítimo’s Djalma. But both moves failed. Quite frankly, that may prove a blessing in disguise as a new board will likely opt to change that direction the club is taking next season.
A late blow?
It is not a surprise that FC Porto didn’t delve into the transfer market. With just one official loss – though it ended up knocking them out of the League Cup – the Dragons have been on a rampage this season and only a fool would consider changing a side winning so regularly.
However, they were dealt a minor blow this past Saturday as left-back Emídio Rafael sustained a leg break. With first-choice Alvaro Pereira still sidelined, the Dragons happened to be a bit short on options on the wings. All of a sudden, playing Benfica next Wednesday for the Portuguese Cup will be a slightly sterner test…
Any other business...
Vitoria Guimarães signed Cluj right-back Tony. Smart signing here as the 30 year-old is an experienced, hard-working defender who will add steel to Manuel Machado’s defence.
Braga found in former Académica defender Káká the replacement for Moisés. The Brazilian arrives from Hertha on loan and will hope to emulate his countryman’s feats.
Basement boys Naval signed former Porto striker Bruno Moraes. With Moraes, Marinho and Fábio Junior upfront Mozer’s pupils can at least boast some firepower. Will it be enough to get them the points they need to avoid the drop?
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