On 19 June 2020 a largely unknown 17-year-old made his debut for Sporting Clube de Portugal. Just 14 months later, Nuno Mendes has become a teammate of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar at PSG in a deal worth €50 million euros for the Lisbon club. He signs during international duty, where he is a teammate of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The phrase “meteoric rise” perhaps does not do full justice to describe such remarkable progress.
It was common knowledge that Portuguese champions Sporting would have to make at least one substantial sale this summer, but as morning broke on deadline day, none of the club’s most saleable assets had left.
But hopes of keeping the nucleus of the team that led the Lions to their first Portuguese championship title for 19 years were extinguished late in the day as PSG’s offer proved too good to turn down.
Mendes leaves for a one-season loan fee of €7 million, with an option to buy of €40 million. Although the option is officially not obligatory, it is reported that the definitive transfer is guaranteed and has been structured as such only to get around UEFA’s financial fair play rules. The deal will be completed at the end of the season.
Additionally Sporting receive Spanish attacking midfield international Pablo Sarabia on a season-long loan, with PSG paying the entirety of his wages, reported to be €3 million net of tax.
To sum up, although the deal falls short of Nuno Mendes’ release clause of €70 million, Sporting have achieved one of their biggest ever windfalls, bettered only by the sale of Bruno Fernandes to Manchester United (€55 million + €25 million in add-ons).
The Lions made plans to cover a prospective Mendes sale at the start of the summer, agreeing to pay Wolves €10 million for 50% ownership of left-back Rúben Vinagre, who has played more games than Mendes this season (3 compared to 2) and looks up to the task.
But today the headlines are all about the outgoing teenager who is set for football superstardom. Sporting left a message of gratitude on their Twitter page, with the following message to Mendes: “You arrived here a boy. You leave a CHAMPION. Thank you for everything Nuno Mendes.”
by Tom Kundert