With around 10 weeks still to go until the transfer window closes, this summer has already seen half a dozen Portuguese footballers change the country where they will be playing next season on the back of substantial investments for the paying club.

But how will Bernardo Silva, André Silva, Bruma, Bruno Fernandes, Rúben Semedo and Edgar Ié adapt to their new surroundings given everything entailed when swapping teams and leagues?

PortuGOAL’s Marino Peixoto assesses the factors that could influence the success or otherwise of the moves, including a (non-legally binding) “likelihood to succeed” verdict.

 

Bernardo Silva 

Age: 22

New club: Manchester City

 

Backdrop

Silva was arguably Ligue 1’s finest player this past season, earning a move to the blue side of Manchester for a reported £43 million after scoring 11 goals and notching 10 assists. He was linked with a number of Europe’s elite clubs - Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, just to name a few. However, in Pep Guardiola, I believe the Lisbon native has found a manager who has the necessary experience to enhance his creativity. Playmakers often have their inventiveness stifled by managers and find themselves on the periphery of games, something which Silva surely had in mind when deciding which of Europe’s elite teams he wanted to join.

In addition to the managerial aspects of the move, I believe the Premier League itself will suit a number of Silva’s attributes. Firstly, despite his pocket-sized stature, he is tenacious in his work-ethic and is by no means afraid of flying into a challenge. Furthermore, the fast-paced nature of the Premier League will not be too dissimilar to the playing style his Monaco side adopted over the last two seasons, where Silva surprised experts with his unstinting work rate and constant eagerness to drive into the opponent’s half.

Lastly, although his Monaco side managed to overcome Manchester City in the Champions League, there is no doubting that City’s squad possesses more quality and depth. Bearing this in mind, I believe having the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Gabriel Jesus and so forth will allow his creativity to blossom further, paving the way for him to augment into the finest playmaker Portugal has seen since Rui Costa.

Verdict - Likeliness to succeed: 8/10

 

 

André Silva

Age: 21

New club: AC Milan

 

Backdrop

André Silva had a very positive first full season in the Liga NOS, scoring an impressive 16 league goals for an FC Porto side who had a turbulent 2016/17 campaign. As for his debut year in a Seleção shirt, the numbers speak for themselves. In 13 appearances for the reigning European champions, he has scored 8 goals, a strike rate that not many strikers playing at the very top are able to boast, yet alone at the tender age of 21.

AC Milan snapped up the youngster for a sum in region of £31 million, despite interest from a number of Europe’s top clubs. Given Milan have struggled greatly in the past few years domestically, it’s difficult to gauge how the move will pan out for the former Porto man. Silva has quality in abundance, of course. An imposing figure standing at six-foot-one, coupled with a typically Portuguese technical prowess on the ball, Silva is the epitome of the modern-day striker. Although now a lethal centre-forward, he has been deployed throughout his career as an offensive midfielder and a winger. This undoubtedly played a sizeable role in his footballing identity, enabling him to be a complete striker -- not solely capable of scoring but also creating -- a trait which often proves to be irresistible to managers.

As previously mentioned, much is riding on how the dormant Italian giants perform as a cohesive unit. They have invested heavily, but have spent several years in the doldrums. One thing is for certain: André Silva will score goals. His predatory instincts in and around the 18-yard-box mean that goals are a given. But in order for Silva to continue developing into the world-class striker he can become, he will need to be competing at the highest level, most importantly, in the Champions League. The biggest questionable factor of this move is whether the team he has chosen gives him the right platform to fully develop.

Verdict - Likeliness to succeed: 5/10

 

 

Bruma 

Age: 22

New club: RB Leipzig

 

Backdrop

Bruma’s been somewhat of an enigma ever since he announced himself on the scene of Portuguese football. Frighteningly quick, lethal in front of goal, Bruma certainly had many people pondering the prospect of another superstar winger coming through the ranks of Sporting’s famous Alcochete academy. However, his antics off the pitch raised questions about whether his temperament would halter his development.

His progress at Galatasaray has been gradual, finding himself on the fringes of the starting XI, only to then be loaned out to Real Sociedad for a season where he was inconsistent to say the least. This past season, however, has been an entirely different campaign for the Guinea Bissau-born winger. He scored an impressive 11 goals in 30 appearances in the Turkish Super Lig, along with 6 assists, illustrating that he has at last began to perform on a consistent basis. His outstanding 2016/17 campaign saw Bruma become a sought-after player, with various top European clubs battling it out to get the 22-year-old’s signature.

After weeks of speculation, Bruma put pen to paper and signed a five-year contract with Bundesliga high flyers RB Leipzig for a reported €12.5 million. Leipzig surprised everybody this past season by finishing second in their debut season in the Bundesliga, largely down to their ruthless attacking approach, something which Bruma can benefit from greatly. Bruma thrives in an environment where counterattacking is essentially second nature to the team, allowing his electric pace to stretch the game and isolate the opposition’s defence. On his day, Bruma is a nightmare for defenders, and an asset to any team when performing to the best of his ability.

Similarly to Andre Silva, much is riding on the performance of the team. RB Leipzig had a stellar campaign in their debut season in the Bundesliga, and for Bruma to be able fulfil his potential entirely it’s key for them to keep a hold of their young starlets in order for them to become a force in German and European football.

Verdict - Likeliness to succeed: 7/10

 

 

Bruno Fernandes

Age: 22

New club: Sporting CP

 

Backdrop

Given the ever-growing number of potential world-class youngsters propelling through the ranks for Portugal, it comes as no surprise that Bruno Fernandes has slipped under the radar somewhat. At 22 years of age, Fernandes already has four years of experience under his belt in Serie A, one of Europe’s finest leagues. Given this impressive feat, it’s unjust that the former Boavista youth player has not been acknowledged in the same manner as his peers.

Finally, however, Fernandes’ efforts have not gone unnoticed and he recently secured a move to Sporting CP for a reported €9m following an impressive Euro U21 campaign. Fernandes has a unique playing style that differs greatly to many of Portugal’s up and coming talents. He possesses the technical prowess that the overwhelming majority of Portuguese midfielders and wingers procure, but his vision and his regular goal-scoring, often via audacious shots from all areas of the pitch, sets him apart from many of Portugal’s options in the attacking midfield position.

The Maia native is below-par is one aspect of his game - athleticism. He is neither quick nor agile. However, what he lacks in athleticism he makes up for in pure football intelligence. His ability to pick out a Messi-esque pass behind the defence is astonishing, not to mention the way he caresses the ball to the correct target even if surrounded by the opposition. His technical prowess at times is utterly flawless.

Despite his fragile-looking stature, he is always involved in his team’s offensive play and is often the instigator as well as the finisher. This can be seen in his impressive stats from this past season with Sampdoria, where he managed to find the back of the net of 5 occasions in 32 appearances. This will aid Sporting greatly this season as they struggled considerably in the 2016/17 campaign after Joao Mario’s departure - a player that has similar characteristics to Sporting’s new playmaker. Much could ride on which star players will leave the Lions, namely Adrien Silva. One thing is a certainty, though. Bruno Fernandes will undoubtedly add an entirely different element to Sporting’s attacking prowess, and could prove to be a key member of the squad.

Verdict - Likeliness to succeed: 7/10

 

 

Rúben Semedo

Age: 23

New club: Villarreal

 

Backdrop

Many would argue that the Seleção das Quinas are currently privileged with their finest generation of young talent to date. Strikers who possess a predatory instinct in front of goal, wingers with a dumbfounding arsenal of tricks, holding midfielders who bare a resemblance to a brick wall, full-backs who are at times more frightening on the ball than the wingers themselves -- there is no doubting that the Seleção are truly blessed.

However, one area where Portugal are severely lacking in the youth department is at centre-back. Rúben Semedo is often cited as the sole candidate to fill this necessity. Having just secured a move across the border to Villarreal for a reported €14 million, much is riding on the youngster’s shoulders to ensure the reigning European champions’ defence is in good hands for years to come.

Standing at 1.89m, he has the standard physique that aids any centre-back in aerial duels and straightforward marking, with lightning pace and agility that high-pressing defensive organisations demand. What propels Semedo to a higher level is the rare combination of the aforementioned physiological and athletic qualities and the raw aspect to his game that comes from having played on the streets for much of his life. It has allowed Semedo to adopt a unique style, transforming him into a modern and exciting defender.

Despite the numerous positives one can discuss regarding Semedo’s game, there is still much room for improvement in order to propel him further in his career. His discipline at times is a cause for concern, with reckless yellow and red cards often putting his team at a handicap. Alarming, yes, but this aspect of his game can be eradicated with the correct coaching and mentoring. In addition to his ill-disciplined nature, his positioning at times can be questionable and also requires application as he continues his football education.

Nevertheless, the positive aspects to his game far outweigh the negatives. Players of his age almost always have areas they can improve on vastly, and now that he is representing one of La Liga’s finest outfits in arguably the best league in the world, he has a great opportunity to fulfil his undoubted potential and blossom into the Seleção’s future centre-back of choice.

Verdict - Likeliness to succeed: 6/10

 

 

Edgar Ié

Age: 23

New club: Lille OSC

 

Backdrop

Edgar Ié’s career has been somewhat of a disappointment thus far. He showed great promise in Sporting’s youth ranks, so much so that Barcelona snapped up the Guinea Bissauan born centre back in 2012. However, despite the hype, Ié failed to cement a place in Barcelona’s B team. A switch to Villarreal followed, but B team action was all he could acquire, and in January this year he returned to Portugal to sign for Belenenses for free.

It was back in Lisbon, despite his underwhelming career thus far, that Ié turned a few heads, and even more so with his performances at the recent Euro U21 tournament, particularly against the hugely talented Spain when he made various goal-saving challenges and clearances. Following his impressive Euro U21 campaign, Ligue 1 side Lille OSC snapped up the versatile defender for a reported fee of €6m, on a five-year contract.

Ié relies heavily on his raw pace, which enables him to recover well if the opposition get behind the defence. His athleticism also allows him to be a versatile footballer, with Belenenses using him as a right-back and a centre-back, something which is a highly desirable asset to possess in modern football. Despite his relatively small stature for a centre-back (5ft11), he is still able to dominate the opposition physically, whether it’s in the air, shoulder-to-shoulder or in a one-on-one battle. On the downside, his decision-making on the ball is questionable at times, perhaps due to his lack of first team football since his move to the Catalan giants and was evident in Portugal’s Euro U21 opener versus Serbia, where he and Rúben Semedo initially appeared unsure of themselves and shaky.

Ié is undoubtedly one of the finest young centre backs Portugal has at the moment, although it is fair to say this highlights the scarcity of quality Portuguese centre-backs. If he manages to cement himself in Lille’s starting eleven and eradicates needless mistakes on the ball, the former Sporting man may well find himself representing his country at senior level sooner rather than later.

Verdict - Likeliness to succeed: 5/10

By Marino Peixoto

 

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  • Guest - Brandon

    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    I see andre silva succeeding in AC Milan and then getting a big boy transfer to Inter or Juventus after being on the top 3 goalscorers list of serie a.

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  • Guest - Mitchell Rua

    I think the André Silva assessment is a tad harsh. Although, it could go either way. Milan's recruited a number of names from second and third tier elite European clubs (teams that generally qualify for the Champions League and are competing). Given their current transition, it could take a while for the club to blossom. It might take a while for his career to really kick off.

    Bruma assessment is fair. Club's focus on young, budding talent brimmed with potential suits, but his attitude is a big issue.

    I really do hope that Semedo and Ie tear things up. Gosh we need quality centred halves. Having watched both for the U21s... Ie looks a real talent. Loved him when he was plying his trade in Belem. Lille have made some decent signing so a Europa League push is likely. Maybe even a CL push! Semedo is EXTREMELY raw. Physical attributes are there, but he makes too many silly errors.

    Fernandes should be a chance at Sporting. Interesting to see what system they play this year.

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  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Firstly, thank you Marino Peixoto for this. Nicely done.

    Porto should have kept Silva but I understand they needed the sale.

    No use going to a squad then sitting on the bench (Renato and Joao Mario learning this). I think the rating is fair on Silva when you consider Bacca is still there and 1st choice striker. They also have the immense talent that is Suso as the main backup.

    I don’t know if Borini is sticking around so what worries me is playtime and at his age playing time is very important. Also the rumours are Milan is still to bring in another striker, further diluting the Andre Silva opportunities. Also the problems at Milan was in service to the strikers. Bacca is a top talent and he will score if presented with chances.

    There is no denying Silva is a very talented kid and he should be plying his trade in Portugal or a smaller league where he plays everyday and gets champions league action (Porto, Benfica, Sporting).

    I am not knocking the Portuguese league but if anyone else has been watching like I have, the Italian league has really become competitive. Juventus still wins most of its matches but the quality from the 2nd position down to 8th is solid. The level of competition and the attitude of Italian fans and teams leaves a small leash on performance and especially young-foreign players. Carlos Bacca (31 goals in 69 games) was public enemy number 1 in Milan last season just to give you an idea of the patience of their fans.

    I am worried (and I think others are) of Andre Silva falling into the same hole and never getting out. Let’s not forget this is the same league that voted Tiago Mendes and Ricardo Quaresma as worst player in Serie A (YES Tiago Mendes as worst player, un-f-inbelieable). A yearly award (called Bidone D’oro) pretty much only handed out to foreign players (80% win ratio for foreign players even though the vast majority of players in Serie A are Italian). Take from that what you want. ((rolls eyes))

    I remember an article on Portugal about 2 years back about Bruno Fernandes where the writer mentioned Bruno F had attitude issues. I called her out on it because it was based on nothing but it highlights the attitude towards young, talented foreigners in Italy. From all accounts Andre Silva is a very friendly, intelligent and personable character which has helped him tremendously adapt to the Selecao almost immediately. Hoping for the best for the kid but am very wary about the league he is now part of.

    Would love to hear others thoughts as this is all just my opinion. As always "pastel de nata > cannolis everytime!" :)

    from Burlington, ON, Canada
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  • Guest - jon/usa

    I have no doubt that Bernardo Silva is going to thrive in the Premier League under the guidance of Pep Guardiola. Bernardo is already a world-class player, but I think he has the potential to get even better, particularly in terms of his production in the final third. If he can improve his finishing, we could be looking at a future Ballon d'Or winner.

    This is going to be a rebuilding year for AC Milan, so don't expect them to be knocking Juventus off their perch any time soon. That being said, if Andre Silva can get quality service, I could definitely see him scoring 18-22 league goals barring injury.

    I think RB Leipzig is the perfect platform for Bruma to finally establish himself as an elite winger. The Bundesliga is going to be a huge step up from the Turkish League, but with the right mentality, I can definitely see him doing well. It's also a huge plus that he's going to be getting champions league football right off the bat.

    It'll be interesting to see where Bruno Fernandes plays for Sporting. He's kind of a 10/8 hybrid who can play in both a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3, but I wouldn't be surprised to see JJ use him of the left side of his favored 4-4-2.

    With regards to Semedo and Ie, both have potential, but neither appear to be ready to make the step up to the senior side. Let's hope that they do well for their new clubs.

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  • Very well written and thought out article. Bernardo Silva will have all the backing from Man City to become a superstar.

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  • Guest - Francisco

    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Intriguing article. It'll be a great shame to see Andre Silva's talent go to waste, but I fear the worst may happen at Milan. Bernardo Silva is Bernardo Silva, he'll thrive in any team. Centre-back really is the area in which we are going to struggle. Semedo has talent, but as Marino stated he is very raw and can at times be a huge liability. Either way, the future is still looking bright for us Tugas! Forca!

    from New Jersey, USA
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  • Guest - Zack

    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Great article once again. Keep it up.

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