The world has certainly seen more enthralling transfer windows, as the clock ticked down with a whimper on Tuesday night across all relevant leagues.

Action in Portugal followed that trend, in particular within the remits of the traditional ‘Big Three’, so often habitual players in windows gone by.

There was, nonetheless, a good volume of activity to take note in and around those rooting for the top end of the Liga NOS table. Here’s a round-up of the ins and outs.

 

Benfica

For the league leaders, the window promised to leave them without Swedish starlet Victor Lindelöf, as Manchester United reportedly closed in on the defender, but the Eagles cashed in on another talent instead.

At a fee close to €30 million, Gonçalo Guedes landed in France to sign for Ligue 1 holders Paris Saint-Germain. An extra €15 million came Benfica’s way after Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers took the opportunity to nail Hélder Costa to a permanent deal, whereas a certain Ola John wasn’t so impressive, returning to Portugal before being farmed back out to Deportivo de La Coruña on loan instead.

Speaking of loans, one player who won’t be floating in and out of Lisbon any longer is Filip Đuričić, used as bait in a deal with Sampdoria that sees the highly-rated Portuguese full back Pedro Pereira bolster Benfica’s defence for an undisclosed fee.

On the other flank, Marcelo Hermes joins on a free transfer from Grêmio to reinforce Rui Vitória’s left side of defence, whereas his compatriot, Filipe Augusto, completed a temporary switch from Rio Ave.

Elsewhere, the Lisbon outfit were reduced to repositioning many of their fringe players throughout the window, starting with one of the latest loan switches that sees the highly-regarded playmaker, João Carvalho, join Vitória de Setúbal on loan.

Brazilian outcast Luis Filipe follows Carvalho by the same token to the ‘Sadinos’, whereas Guillermo Celis completes his temporary switch to Vitória de Guimarães.

The injury-ravaged Pelé will back Feirense’s colours for the remainder of the season, meanwhile both Oscar Benitez and Bryan Cristante were both recalled from their loan deals before being shipped back out to Boca Juniors and Serie A side Atalanta, respectively.

Benfica also took the opportunity to call time on Danilo Barbosa’s temporary spell with the club, as the Brazilian signed on to Standard Liege’s books on loan from Braga, reserving the last mention to the enigmatic Adel Taarabt, who joined Genoa on a free transfer this January.

 

Sporting

No new signings for Sporting, contrary to what many fans would’ve hoped for after a handful of sub-par performances, but the Lions did at least move to oust much of the deadwood acquired during the summer.

In his second spell with the club, Brazilian midfielder Elias proved to be just as unpopular and commanded the biggest fee when sold to Atlético Mineiro for little more than €3 million.

The much-maligned Lazar Markovic was sent packing back to England, as Liverpool arranged for a loan switch to Marco Silva’s Hull City instead, whereas the winger’s compatriot, Radosav Petrovic, was unable to secure a move away from the Alvalade and had to settle for a loan deal with Rio Ave instead in the final hours of the transfer window.

Out of favour, Marcelo Meli also said his goodbyes to Portugal, rescinding his loan with Sporting to join Racing Club back in Argentina, meanwhile João Pereira was picked up by Turkish outfit Trabzonspor for nothing.

After starring in Moreirense’s historic Taça da Liga cup run, Francisco Geraldes and Daniel Podence have received call-ups from their parent club in a bid to help reconstruct their season, joining João Palhinha under similar circumstances.

Sporting compensated Moreirense for their loss by ceding Ary Papel on loan and Wallyson on a free transfer, following a less than successful spell in Belgium with Standard Liege.

As for the two players caught in the very public crossfire between the Lions and Vitória de Setúbal, Ryan Gauld and André Geraldes, the pair will remain in Lisbon despite proposed switches to Chaves.

 

FC Porto

Much attention has centred itself around Francisco ‘Tiquinho’ Soares over the past week, joining FC Porto for €3.5 million from Vitória de Guimarães after hitting seven league goals since the start of the season, but the northern outfit also have another name to look forward to.

After a lengthy period on loan in Brazil, Nuno Espírito Santo has placed much faith in the recall of league title hero Kelvin, who’s already donned the club’s colours since returning.

Much like Benfica and Sporting before them, the rest of the activity has been dedicated to general housekeeping, as Porto amassed eight outgoings.

The Former Portugal international, Silvestre Varela, agreed to terminate his current deal with the Liga NOS hopefuls before signing for Kayserispor, whereas Evandro landed a deal with Hull in the Premier League for £2 million.

Sérgio Oliveira’s inability to crack the Porto set-up has been clear and so the midfielder now joins his namesake compatriot and FC Nantes boss, Sérgio Conceição, on loan until the end of the season.

Porto’s Alberto Bueno, who called it quits with Granada, soon found a new temporary home with Leganes on loan, with Adrián López re-joining La Liga outfit Villarreal in much the same vein, but Suk Hyun-Jun wasn’t to be as fortunate.

The South Korean striker returned to the Dragons from a spell in Turkey in hope of landing a deadline day switch to Bastia, but the deal failed to materialise in time with the countdown.

Other departures include Sinan Bolat to Arouca, Abdoulaye Ba to 1860 Munich and Juan Quintero to Independiente Medellín, all on a temporary basis.

 

SC Braga

The big surprise down the Quarry was without a doubt the arrival of the once highly-rated Federico Cartabia, who joins Sporting de Braga on loan until the end of the season.

Now 24, the playmaker was once referred to as a future star for the Argentine national team in his younger days at Valencia, but the troubled Spanish club agreed to rescind his contract and allow Cartabia to join Deportivo for free, who agreed to let him join Braga soon after.

The ‘Arsenalistas’ also saw Xeka, often on the fringes of the first team this season, make up part of a mad trolley dash at Lille throughout Tuesday, joining the Ligue 1 side for a fee that could see Braga cash in up to €6 million, should they make the midfielder’s loan deal permanent.

The Champions League hopefuls also moved quickly to land Maritimo duo Fransérgio and Dyego Souza, but the pair will only officially join the club at the start of next season.

 

Vitória de Guimarães

Having lost Soares to Porto, Pedro Martins’ side turned to Fábio Sturgeon from Belenenses for an undisclosed fee and the striker will also be joined by ex-Moreirense forward Rafael Martins, touching down in Portugal for free after representing Levante.

For a fee in the region of €1.5 million, João Pedro chose life in the MLS with LA Galaxy over a potential move to FC Porto after almost 12 years at the Estádio D. Afonso Henriques.

 

Rio Ave

The Liga NOS mainstay could well have had their fair share of success in the January transfer window, after backing Sporting’s Petrovic with a loan deal.

The club’s good connections with AS Monaco and super-agent Jorge Mendes facilitated a loan deal for the exciting midfield talent that is Adama Traoré, who’ll link up with Porto’s Gonçalo Paciência after a less than satisfactory time in Greece with Olympiakos.

 

Estoril

Locked in mid-table, Estoril have called on a much-revered name around these parts of Greater Lisbon, as Licá returns to the place where he made his name via a loan move from Nottingham Forest.

The yellows will also cover themselves in the relative experience up top provided by André Claro, who joins Estoril for an undisclosed fee after two seasons with Vitória de Setúbal.

 

Belenenses

Grabbing themselves a potential coup, the historic Primeira Liga outfit placed their faith in the signing of former Portugal Under-21 player and Sporting academy graduate Edgar Ié on a free transfer, who also has Barcelona and Villarreal on his CV at the age of 22.

Diogo Viana, once dubbed ‘the new Ricardo Quaresma’, also strengthens this Belenenses side, joining on deadline day from CSKA Sofia for an undisclosed fee, whereas Maurides, brother of ex-Porto defender Maicon, completes the Lisbon outfit’s winter shopping.

 

By Patrick Ribeiro

 

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  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Very happy with Francisco Geraldes coming home to Sporting and being integrated into the first team! That was a great decision and he's going to be a great help to the team strengthening the depth of our midfield! He's the most exciting young central creative midfielder in Portugal and he's gonna be a great help to our squad. Going on loan for the first half of the season was great for him to get accustomed to the liga competition. Now he's ready to come right in and contribute to Sporting. A major element that we were lacking thus far in the season was a suitable replacement for Adrien when he was injured or suspended. That hurt us, and finally I believe we have a player who can come in and play that position with quality and maintain a top level of play. While he's more creative than Adrien and less defensively adept maybe, he is a player that is gonna help our midfield possession and play and dynamism and creativity! To me he could play in place of Adrien as the number 8 or in place of Alan Ruiz as number 10 or even on the left in place of Bryan Ruiz. Basically Francisco Geraldes is a player who can bring to Sporting something similar to what Joao Mario used to bring to our play. Finally I believe we have a real quality midfielder with skill vision tactical intelligence etc to help our team again. William and Adrien are amazing but when we sold Joao Mario, we became desperately dependent on them, and that was a problem and downfall for us. Francisco Geraldes is the perfect addition to help in this regard and I'm very excited and happy about this.

    I've seen a lot of Sporting and BdC bashing going on by the rival club supporters on the site in the past couple weeks. While the season so far has been dissapointing in some aspects, there have also been many good moments and there has been good potential within the side. Some of the transfers in from the summer were'nt up to the level required, but credit to the management that they have addressed this swiftly, with getting rid of the underachievers in Markovic, Elias, and the deadwood in Meli, Petrovic. Some of the transfers in have been great and have definitely added value with Bas Dost, Joel Campbell, Coates, and Alan Riuz. It has just taken a little time for them to click into gear. But this squad is strong. Bas Dost settled the fastest and has been amazing and is a real lion great striker! Joel Campbell has been awesome as well despite having a little fitness struggles, he's a great dynamic game changing player, Coates is a very good center back and settled quickly too. Alan Ruiz took a little while longer to settle but he showed flashes of brilliance even early on, but now is really comfortable and delivering the quality play that he's capable of.

    To me as I said the main area we were thin in was center midfield, as we had no top quality players to rotate with Adrien and William, but now with Francisco Geraldes in midfield we're gonna be on and high quality regardless if Adrien or F. Geraldes plays or even if we play all three at the same time William, Adrien and Francisco Geraldes. Bringing back João Palhinha as cover for William Carvalho was also a great move and right now we're in a very good position midfield wise and that's gonna make a big difference moving forward!

    I'm happy with the defense, in right back with Schelotto and Ricardo Esgaio we've got the quality there! Our center backs are quality with Coates, Ruben Semedo and Paulo Oliveira. I actually think Ruben has been at fault slightly because of just being a little complacent. He's so good and so fast and talented in marking and defending that he almost relaxes a bit and switches off for brief moments which gets him caught out. But I hope he's learnt from the first half of the season and keeps vigilant and focused and switched on giving 100% and then he'll be amazing. He's the best young Portuguese center back no doubt about it, I'm looking forward to this second half of the season him being focused and showing his best consistently and then we'll be good!

    I feel a little bad for Paulo Oliveira he's a top Portuguese center back too, and at first I didn't like that Coates was starting over him. Coates has grown on me and showed his quality to me though. I respect Coates ability he's a top center back very strong great in the air while also being very fast at the same time. Paulo Oliveira is amazing too though so I have no problems with Paulo Oliveira starting with Ruben Semedo sometimes. Whoever starts there I'm confident in.

    My one real issue that i have had with Sporting's defense this season is left back. I'm a huge Jefferson fan he was the second best left back in the league for three seasons behind Sandro when he was at Porto. Jefferson was always a instrumental player for us with his pace dribbling ability on the left bringing the ball up overlapping runs and great left foot swinging in great crosses with ease without hesitation. Key is he's a natural left footer comfortable on the ball, could swing in crosses through balls long balls with his left quickly and easily. If you look at his highlights you'll see the ton of assists he made with crosses in from the left. We've desperately missed that this season. We really need Jefferson back in form and starting for us week in week out.

    We've had issues at left back because we haven't had him. We have been playing with Marvin Zeegelaar and while I think he was a good signing to be a backup, he's not good enough to be our first choice starter week in week out. To me he isn't comfortable on the ball, he isn't a natural left footer to me, he seems like a player who was a right footer who learnt to use his left foot and was converted to a left back and happened to stay there and is no decent at it, but not great at it. He doesn't run and dribble quickly passed players with the ball on his left foot, he doesn't quickly and accurately swing in crosses with his left foot. Far far too often he has to take a second and third touch before contriving to struggle off a cross with the left, which then may often be inaccurate because it doesn't seem natural to him. A lot of times he would have to cut back on his right foot to then try to swing in a cross which slows down the play so much that the opposition defense has time to set themselves over and mark up our attackers in the box. To me this simple issue has hampered Sporting's play a lot this season. I won't fault him because he does try, he is a hard worker, he just doesn't seem a natural left foot and therefore isn't top quality there. For example a fit and in form Jefferson is levels above Zeegelaar in terms of quality.

    I had hoped that we would get another truly left footed left back in the January window but that hasn't happened, and that is my one lingering concerns honestly. I really hope Jefferson can return to top form or hopefully Bruno Cesar can hold down the position. Naturally he doesn't have the energy and bustling pace to go up an down the flank which is what you want in a left back, but he is very comfortable on the ball dribbling and great at crossing and passing assisting etc.

    All in all I think Sporting is fully capable now to attack this second half of the season! The team has had time to acclimatize with the new players who have quality and were kept we got rid of the poor ones that were dragging the team down (besides Zeegelaar), and we brought in great homegrown quality additions to the midfield to bring depth that we desperately needed there. Sporting is still very much in this race and I believe we'll impress in this second half of the season! We have the talent and we can get the job done and I believe we'll shine!

    15 games again remaining in the league and just 7 points behind 1st. I believe we'll come out fighting in every game and show our quality and we'll be in it vying for the top come the end of the season! Lets do this SPORTING! FORCA!

    Side note too Bruno de Carvalho is an amazing president of Sporting! The work he's done with the club has been outstanding! We're in a much better place nowadays anyone who can't see and appreciate that doesn't appreciate good work. We have been second in the league twice and third once in the last three seasons! Credit must be given where credit is due. Before that in the four prior seasons we were only third and no higher only once. Clearly the club has progressed in performance with Bruno de Carvalho! What I also like about him is he is quick to address his work and if something isn't working he is quick to address it as was done this winter transfer window. People come on bashing him about getting rid of Leonardo Jardim and Marco Silva. Lol, when in reality Leonardo Jardim did a great job yes, but he simply had an opportunity to manage a Monaco side that at the time were building one of the most expensive and ambitious projects and Leonardo Jardim chose to move there. BdC did not get rid of him. And as was said by BdC he is always welcomed back to Sporting! Marco Silva on the other hand yes was gotten rid of. While this decision may have been a bit controversial because yes he did a decent job, it is to be noted that he did not do a great job. He finished the season with 76 points in third place with Benfica first with 85 points. He had a complete squad with chemistry maintained with all our best players only losing one key player in Marcos Rojo, but we got the talent Paulo Oliveira who turned out to be very good plus we got Nani, we had the continuity of Slimani Joao Mario Adrien William all that, very good squad yet he finished too far back with what he was given with all due respect. Hiring Jorge Jesus was a great move by BdC in my opinion and Jorge Jesus is a great coach and did a great job in his first season finishing the season second with 86 points just two behind Benfica with 88. Arguably to many playing the best football of the season, and had not Bryan Ruiz missed two sitters in the last classico we would have won that game and won the league by sheer difference of that one game, thats how close that season was. Props must be given where props are due! Jorge Jesus managed a great season! This current season we obviously had to deal with the blows of losing our two best players of last season in Slimani and Joao Mario. We started great but struggled with their losses and the simultaneous injury of Adrien the lack of quality depth in midfield coupled with the need for the new players to acclimatize etc. All in all we have dealt with it okay and the key best players signed have been productive and important for us and we have been though an adjustment phase and in this winter window we have adjusted the squad quite well and are now in a good position to move forward and thrive and shine! Jorge Jesus is a great manager and Sporting is a great team and we will show that this second half of the season! And as I said I believe we will be right up there fighting for the top come the end of the season! FORCA SPORTING! :)

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  • Guest - Andre/UK

    Well I would describe Benfica's activity in the January transfer window as so-so! Some details are pleasing, others very disappointing. First and foremost, very disappointing to see the sale of Goncalo Guedes, halfway through the season. He had really been one of our best performers so far this season and covered very well for the absence of Jonas and other attacking players through injury, and you would think as a result the club could have waited until the end of the season to sell him.

    Yes there is the argument that the club has this massive debt and has to continuously sell the talent we have. But on the other hand, I see it in another way, and I assume most Benfiquistas feel the same way: 10 years ago or even further back, the amount of debt the club reportedly had was a similar figure to the recent reports, somewhere in the region of 300 million euros. Yet this decade, since 2010, we have probably made close to 300 million on player sales alone (140 million in the last 2 years alone), not to mention sponsorships, socios, ticket sales (we get over 50,000 for virtually every home game nowadays) and above all Champions league revenue every single year. Yet the debt figures are roughly the same as they were a decade ago! How can this be explained? Where is the money going? I think there can be little doubt that there is some serious corruption involved in relation to our club and a real lack of transparency regarding the finances. So as a result, I as simply a fan, am not just going to say "oh we need to keep selling all the talent to service the debt and no questions asked". Nope! The reality is the players keep getting sold every single transfer window and the debt is the same as it was a decade ago. So as a fan I will say this instead, very disappointing to see yet another talented player from Seixal (and who i'm sure never wanted to leave anyway, like all the others) get quickly sold off as soon as there's a big offer and before he's even played two full seasons at the club.

    Central midfield has been our biggest issue this season so far, and I think most Benfica fans agree we needed strengthening in that area this January. Instead Danilo got offloaded, strange decision! Then he got replaced on the final day of the transfer window with Filipe Augusto. Augusto is an interesting signing and he appears to have some of the traits we've been missing in central midfield thus far this season: physical presence and strength and a good passing range. Furthermore he can play as either an 8 or a 6, which is useful because Pizzi needs to be rested for some games (has understandably been looking tired of late), while Fejsa can get injured on any given week it seems. But then on that same last day of the transfer window, what does the club do? Offloads another CM (Celis). Baffling decision! And so that means we are even lighter now in CM options than in the first half of the season. Anyway, Augusto looks like a good player and hopefully he hits the ground running, and Horta should also be used more in the coming weeks, because to mention again Pizzi needs to be rested.

    The main positives of the transfer window have been in the defence. Two promising looking young full backs brought in, Pedro Pereira and Hermes, to give us more options in that area. Important, as Semedo needs to be rested too and Grimaldo faces at least another month recovering from his injury. It was also essential to keep Lindelof until the end of the season at least. His form hasn't been as impressive as last season, but I think much of that was due to all the transfer speculation, which can often distract a player. Hopefully now that the transfer window is over, we will see him return to his best form. So yeah, some pros and cons regarding the January window, as usual most Portuguese club fans are just happy it's over, lol! Benfica have hit a little dip in form during the last few weeks and need to recover some good form quickly. The important thing is we remain top of the league despite the few bad recent results and hopefully now the team will regroup and get on a nice winning run again.

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Pizzi
(Benfica midfielder after victory over Vitória Guimarães to clinch Portuguese title)

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