The Primeira Liga season ends tomorrow, but interest in the Portuguese game will only intensify over the coming months.
Sales of the three Portuguese sports dailies actually increase in the close-season as clubs up and down the country are linked with an endless roll of potential new signings to boost their respective squads. But what about players going the other way?
Here are five reasons why scouts should be looking to Portugal once the new transfer window opens.
Jackson Martínez - Porto
Something of a late bloomer, Jackson Martínez has wasted no time in asserting himself as one of Europe’s most feared strikers since he joined Porto in 2011/2012. Nicknamed “Cha Cha Cha” due to his smooth moves on the field, Martínez has gone on to score 20+ goals each season since moving to Portugal, and the question of whether a move away to continue his progression remains prevalent.
Martínez on the outset is a tall, physical striker that can be used as a focal point in an attack, but he possesses excellent technique on the ball. The 28-year-old is as capable of producing a fine piece of individual skill with his back to the goal, as he is holding off a strapping centre-back. This is what makes him such a difficult opponent, and of course, so sought after. Martínez would only move to a major club now, a Champions League front runner perhaps, and a high price would likely dictate that too.
André Carillo - Sporting
Sporting’s best player this season, and no doubt one of the most exciting players in Portugal. André Carillo has weighed in with both goals and assists, showing the ability to function in a variety of ways. He can play behind a main striker, lead the line himself or move into wide areas. The Peruvian packs bags of pace, and loves to drive at opponents with good close control and direct approach to the game.
While he can be frustrating in the sense he gives the ball away, he does attempt to produce things others cannot on the field, and his attitude is admirable in this sense. This one would come with caution given the inconsistency in Carillo’s game, but there is plenty of potential to work with.
William Carvalho - Sporting
One of the main names in Portuguese football that has been linked with a move away, but it has yet to transpire. William Carvalho could well be a Premier League club’s dream. The midfielder is a powerful, imposing character who uses his stature to dominate opponents. Much like Nemanja Matic has done so since joining Chelsea, and Carvalho is of a similar style. Not only does he bring physical qualities, but also ability on the ball.
Carvalho can sit in front of a defence and protect it, but also use his pace and long strides to join the attack, link with the more advanced players and offer himself as an option in approach play. Carvalho does have a touch of box-to-box about him, but clearly sitting deep and marshalling the midfield is where he’s best suited. This must surely be the year he moves on. Arsenal have been regularly linked with the player as he could well bolster their, at times, frail midfield.
Talisca - Benfica
A player that comes with a seal of approval from none other than Jose Mourinho. "I think Benfica bought well. They say Talisca is unknown, but the only reason he's not playing in England is because he doesn't have a work permit. If he had one, he would be here," said the Chelsea manager about the Brazilian that took Benfica by storm early in their title-winning season. The midfielder has 9 goals in 31 games this season, his first in the Portuguese top flight, but his work elsewhere has also been noted.
The €4m signing from Bahia works well behind the striker, and possesses a good eye for a pass and makes smart runs off the ball too. His contributions have helped propel Benfica to the league title, and he’s yet another gem unearthed by the Lisbon based outfit.
Rafa - Braga
He may not be at one of the classic big teams in Portugal, but that doesn’t mean the form of Rafa has gone unnoticed. For the second consecutive season the player has shown to be one of the best midfielders in the country, and the only thing that will prevent him dong it a third time is a move away. At just 22 he’s produced another stunning season, being an ever-present in the attacking midfield department at Braga.
Rafa is someone with excellent ability on the ball, using his quick feet and speed of thought to unlock defences and obdurate opponents. His passing range has improved immeasurably too, with the player able to perfectly weight a pass between defenders or drill a pass across the field to open up a new avenue. He can play as a central attacking midfielder, but is usually deployed in a wide role from where he drifts inside. Manchester United have already checked him out several times this season, but they won’t have been the only ones.