Three championship titles in five seasons, excellent showings in the Champions League and huge transfer windfalls. You would expect Porto fans to be happy with the way their football club has been performing since Sérgio Conceição became head coach in 2017.

But the waters are far from calm at the Estádio do Dragão. Supporters and Conceição himself are increasingly expressing their frustration at the constant sales of the team’s star players as the board attempt to get the club on an even financial keel. 

The recent sale of the coach’s son Francisco Conceição appears a nonsensical move, although the ire of the fans has been somewhat appeased by the signing of highly rated Brazilian forward Gabriel Veron from Palmeiras.

The sales of Luis Díaz, Fábio Vieira and Vitinha in a six-month period had already left Porto’s hierarchy facing difficult questions, but when Portugal U21 international Francisco Conceição was sold to Ajax for just €5 million the tone of the criticism became substantially sharper.

“I’m sad for FC Porto because I think it is the worst piece of business in the history of the club,” said well-known Portuguese football analyst Sofia Oliveira on CNN Portugal. Oliveira is known for her divisive opinions but on this occasion most Portuguese football fans, whether Porto supporters or not, were inclined to agree with her.

 

Porto supremo Pinto da Costa yesterday attempted to diffuse the noise around the transfer, saying: “I’m not going to feed controversies. The club is managed from within, not from outside. This matter is closed.”

The historic president, at the head of Porto for an astonishing four decades, was keen to focus on Porto’s latest purchase. Veron cost the Dragons €10 million, and the 19-year-old Brazilian comes with a big reputation having contributed to an extremely successful period for Palmeiras, managed by Portuguese coach Abel Ferreira.

Having won the Copa Libertadores twice in a row, Palmeiras are looking good in the tournament again and are top of the Brazilian championship. Take advantage of betting welcome offers to wager on Palmeiras winning more silverware.

“We have high hopes for the future of Veron and his success here, which will mean success for the team,” said Pinto da Costa. “He is coming to a club that are champions and will be one more fighting for more trophies. We are fully confident we have picked the right player again.”

Pinto da Costa hits back at critics

Veron is the second big-money signing this summer, after the acquisition of centre-back David Carmo from Braga earlier in the month. Asked whether Porto will be adding further reinforcements to the squad, Pinto da Costa replied: “I’m not going to create expectations.

“We have a lot of respect for the fans but we have no respect at all for those who only say barbarities without knowing what they are talking about. If I had to answer all the reports about players that the media say are leaving Porto I wouldn’t even have time to eat my lunch.”

by Tom Kundert

 

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