As the European football season gets underway, most of the talk is still focused on who is going where, as we approach the final frenzied days of the transfer window. While the summer’s big news story centred around Neymar’s record breaking transfer from Barcelona to Paris St Germain, the world of football is still rife with speculation about other big name and big money signings.
Sporting’s William Carvalho lies right at the heart of the speculation, with West Ham and the Portuguese club reportedly close to sealing a deal for the Portugal holding midfielder. Meanwhile, in a another significant Primeira Liga move, Braga yesterday completed the sale of striker Rui Fonte to English Championship side Fulham for a fee of around €10m.
It is no secret that William is almost certaian to leave Sporting this August. The 25-year-old European Champion played in only the first of the Lisbon club’s first three matches of the season, with new recruit Rodrigo Battaglia being groomed by Jorge Jesus to take William‘s position in the team full time. Yesterday West Ham vice-chairman Karen Brady admitted the club “is working very hard” to complete the deal.
William seems certain to become a teammate of Portugal centre-back José Fonte at West Ham, and Fonte’s younger brother has also moved to London. Rui Fonte, who played for Arsenal as a youth player, yesterday penned a 3-year deal at Craven Cottage. The 27-year-old has also had spells with Espanyol and Benfica.
Adrien future uncertain but Gelson set to stay
While William’s departure is expected to be officially announced in the coming days, speculation has died down in relation to two other Sporting stars who could move away from Alvalade this summer. Captain Adrien has been heavily linked with a transfer to Tottenham Hotspur, and with Sporting having spent substantially on a seemingly perfect replacement in Bruno Fernandes, it would not be a huge surprise if this move was reignited.
While Sporting fans are resigned to seeing the William-Adrien axis that has served club and country so well being broken up, they would not take kindly to any late move that takes away their electric winger Gelson Martins.
The 22-year-old star has been courted by a number of top European clubs over recent months, most notably Arsenal and Liverpool, but according to Portuguese sports publication A BOLA, anyone who is really serious about signing him will have to pay equally serious money. The newspaper has quoted Sporting President Bruno de Carvalho as saying they will not let him go for anything less than €100 million.
Gelson has started the new season on fire, looking by far Sporting’s biggest source of creativity in what has been an uninspiring start to 2017/18 in terms of goals, just three scored in three matches, two of which by Gelson himself. The Lions have sought to protect the Cape Verde-born winger from inconvenient questions about his future, announcing that, along with Adrien, William and goalkeeper Rui Patrício, none of these four players will give after-match interviews while the transfer window remains open.
These days, the football fans get as involved in the merry go round that is the transfer window as they do in the matches themselves, and online bookmakers give them the opportunity to prove they understand the market, and win some money at the same time. So what do they think is likely to happen? A brief glance at some of the best football betting sites in the UK suggests that when the dust settles the likelihood is that he will stay right where he is.
Martins broke into the senior side having just turned 20 in the summer of 2015, and the same year he impressed in the under-20s World Cup, as the team reached the quarter-finals before being knocked out by Brazil. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, prompting Jesus to say “Gelson is no longer a promise; he’s a confirmation.”
The conventional wisdom is that, like Ronaldo and the other famous names that have come before him, it is a case of when, rather than if, Martins will outgrow the Portuguese Primeira Liga and move to one of the giants of European football, either in the UK or elsewhere. Sporting have made it clear that when that day comes, the club that signs him will pay dearly for the privilege.