There is no getting away from it: Portugal’s Primeira Liga has seen a brutal downgrading of its talent pool in recent seasons – and the trend continues apace. As the financial disparity between Portuguese football and the rest of Europe’s top leagues grows ever wider, Porto, Benfica and Sporting are all fighting a losing battle to hold on to their best players and now seem incapable of attracting exciting young prospects like before, let alone players with an established pedigree, give or take the odd veteran.
It is a different world to the one when the Portuguese top flight boasted superstars such as Ángel Di María, David Luiz, Radamel Falcao and Hulk, not to mention key Seleção players such as Fábio Coentrão, João Moutinho or João Mário.
A collective drop-off in quality, however, does not necessarily equate to a drop-off in excitement and competitiveness – perhaps precisely the opposite. Braga, for example, look well positioned to break the status quo of Portuguese football and make a sustained push for the title. PortuGOAL looks at the major coming and goings at Portugal’s top clubs ahead of this weekend’s 2018/19 Liga NOS kick-off.
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