Di María returns to Benfica, Porto snap up Fran Navarro

Two big moves in Portugal that had been in the works for some time were made official today.

World Cup winner Ángel Di María returns to Benfica, while FC Porto snapped up Gil Vicente’s prolific Spanish striker Fran Navarro. 

Details of the Di María contract have not been revealed yet. Benfica invited supporters to attend a ceremony tomorrow next to the Eusébio statue outside their Estádio da Luz stadium, which shall begin at 19:04, in reference to the year 1904 in which the club was founded.

Most analysts have speculated it will be a one-year deal, but that will do little to dowse the excitement of the Benfiquistas at re-signing the player who spent three and a half seasons in the Portuguese capital after he was signed from Rosario Central as a 19-year-old.

The Argentine winger got better year on year, his dazzling displays catapulting him to a spectacular career as one of the best players in the world over the past decade, as attested by the fact he went on to play for Real Madrid, Manchester United, PSG and Juventus.

Now 35, Di María’s career is winding down and fitness problems plagued much of his time at Juventus this past season. Nevertheless, his performances at the Qatar World Cup, with several pundits making him man-of-the-match in the final against France, showed he can still be a devastating weapon at the highest level.

Navarro makes Porto switch

First mooted in the January transfer window six months ago, the switch of Gil Vicente striker Fran Navarro to Porto finally went through today.

“For me it’s a special day,” said the 25-year-old Spaniard, who was presented alongside Porto president Pinto da Costa. “I’ve always dreamed of playing for a team as big and exciting as FC Porto. I thank the president and everyone who made it possible.”

Navarro has impressed ever since coming to the Portuguese league, scoring 37 goals in two seasons for Gil. He has signed a five-year contract at the Estádio do Dragão.

by Tom Kundert