The Liga NOS transfer window review

As far as transfer windows go, it’d be fair to say the one welcoming the year of 2016 has hardly set the world alight at European level.

In Portugal, however, clubs made full use of the interlude to fine tune their squads ahead of the second half of the season. Here are the pick of the bunch.

 

 

Sporting

Regardless of where his team may be in the league table, Sporting manager Jorge Jesus loves a good transfer window and wasted no time in introducing new faces to the squad currently sitting in 1st place. With Fredy Montero signing for Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda for €5 million, ex-Gremio striker Hernán Barcos came in the opposite direction as part of the deal. The 31-year-old striker scored 15 times in 29 league appearances in China and could well be the secondary source of goals Sporting needs ahead of their title charge, in particular with the suspension currently looming over the head of regular goal-getter Islam Slimani.

‘Os Leões’ went on to reinforce their backline with the signing of Sunderland’s Sebastian Coates on loan. The Uruguayan centre back failed to impress in the Barclays Premier League for both the Black Cats and Liverpool but should provide adequate cover in the defensive department. Jesus also called on the tried and trusted Bruno César to bolster his squad, joining from Estoril on a free transfer. Elsewhere, the league leaders were quick to replace Boca Juniors loanee Jonathan Silva with the signing of Rio Ave’s left back Marvin Zeegelaar for €370,000, whereas former Inter Milan wing back Ezequiel Schelotto was secured on a free transfer.

On their way out of Alvalade were Salim Cisse to Vitória de Setúbal, Zakaria Labyad to Fulham, Hadi Sacko to Girondins Bordeaux, Marcelo Boeck to Chapecoense and Junya Tanaka to Kashiwa Reysol, all of which are loan deals.

 

Benfica

Benfica have remained reasonably quiet throughout the winter transfer window, with fans right to point out that the emergence of Renato Sanches and the eventual return from injury for Nélson Semedo and Eduardo Salvio being just as good as new signings.

They did, however, register one transfer early on in January by signing Álex Grimaldo from Barcelona B for €1.5 million. The 20-year-old had been tipped to break into the Barcelona senior team, but after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in 2013, Grimaldo found his avenue to stardom barricaded by Jordi Alba, Jérémy Mathieu and Adriano. Consequently, the Spaniard opted to sign a five-and-a-half-year contract with Benfica instead.

The Liga NOS holders also took the opportunity to add to their ever-growing Serbian contingent, landing 18-year-old striker Ivan Šaponjić from Partizan Belgrade. With Jonas, Kostas Mitroglou and even Raúl Jiménez firing on all cylinders, it’s likely that Šaponjić will spend some time with the B team first, whereas ‘As Águias’ reinforced their squad further with the arrival of his compatriot Luka Jović from Red Star Belgrade. The two Serbian forwards both sign five-and-a-half-year contracts and join for a combined fee of €3 million.

Benfica went on to trim the volume of their squad by allowing Bryan Cristante and Filip Đuričić to leave the club on loan to Palermo and Anderlecht, respectively.

 

FC Porto

Yet again, FC Porto dominated the back pages throughout the transfer window and they didn’t even need to smash their transfer record or bring in a handful of South American imports to do so. This time, the northern club focused their attentions on those plying their trade in the Liga NOS, signing Suk Hyun-Jun, Moussa Marega and José Sá.

Interestingly enough, Suk, who had scored 11 times for Vitória de Setúbal this season, was heavily linked with rivals Sporting before choosing Porto over the league leaders. The South Korean striker is likely to provide competition for Vincent Aboubakar, who hasn’t found the back of the net as regularly as his €1.4 million-rated counterpart.

In a repeat of the Suk transfer, the Portuguese press linked Sporting to Marítimo duo Marega and José Sá before Porto appeared to hijack both deals. With Cristian Tello terminating his loan with ‘Os Dragões’ and joining Fiorentina, Marega is now the likely candidate to challenge Jesús Corona in the Porto squad, whereas José Sá becomes the seventh first team goalkeeper to currently be owned by the 2004 Champions League winners. Both Marega and José Sá touchdown at the Estádio do Dragão for a joint fee of €4.6 million.

The club also said their goodbyes to record signing and former Olympique Marseille midfielder Giannelli Imbula, who joins Premier League side Stoke City for £18.3 million after a torrid six months in Portugal, meanwhile Sporting Kansas City defender Erik Palmer-Brown joins Porto on loan until the end of 2016.

Pablo Osvaldo (Boca Juniors) and Igor Lichnovsky (Granada) are two more who head for the exit doors.

 

Sporting Clube de Braga

With the team playing arguably some of the best football the Liga NOS has seen this season, there wasn’t a great deal Braga boss Paulo Fonseca needed to do to his squad in the January transfer window.

They did, however, manage to pick up Portuguese midfielder Josué on loan from Porto. The 25-year-old failed to settle down in his time on loan at Turkish club Bursaspor, but if Josué can at the very least recapture the form of his Paços de Ferreira days, Braga will have a very nice acquisition to add to current squad members Rafa Silva, Hassan and Pedro Santos.

Heading out of the Estádio Municipal de Braga is first team goalkeeper Stanislav Kritsyuk, joining Russian Premier League club FC Krasnodar on loan after a string of notable performances. ‘Os Arsenalistas’ have recruited well, however, with the signature of Paços de Ferreira goalkeeper José Marafona for €370,000. Braga’s third and final signing of the window is Lilleström SK’s Norwegian full back Stian Ringstad on a free transfer

 

Vitória de Guimarães

The transition from Rui Vitória to Sérgio Conceição hasn’t been the smoothest for 9th placed Vitória de Guimarães, but there is still plenty of time for the club to close the five-point gap between them and 5th placed Paços de Ferreira ahead of qualification to the Europa League.

In hope of doing so, ‘Os Vimaranenses’ have called on the services of Sporting’s defensive midfielder Oriol Rosell, who joins the club on loan until the end of the season. The deal means Rosell’s parent club now has the option to speak to Guimarães’ Miguel Silva and Xande Silva before any other club.

Conceição spent the final hours of the transfer window concluding the loan signings of promising Benfica midfielder João Teixeira and his teammate Victor Andrade, meanwhile South American duo Francis and Pablo Hurtado also arrived on a temporary basis.

 

Rio Ave

Sitting rather comfortably in 7th, Rio Ave did a bit of late shopping themselves in a final push for the coveted Europa League spots. Karabükspor winger Kuca was the first through the door, having spent the previous half of the season on loan at Belenenses.

With just a few hours to go, the team from Vila do Conde welcomed a far more familiar face in ex-Porto and Sporting striker Hélder Postiga from Indian Super League club Atlético de Kolkata, joining at Rio Ave until the end of the season at the age of 33.

 

Belenenses

Belenenses made numerous additions in the winter transfer window, such as Fiorentina’s Marko Babic on loan, but by far the most eye-grabbing capture was that of Colombian international Abel Aguilar on loan from Toulouse.

Fitness could be an issue for the defensive midfielder who has been starved of first team football recently in France, but he has featured regularly for Colombia, ranked 8th in the official FIFA rankings, and picked up a total of 56 caps for ‘Los Cafeteros’. The 31-year-old has also represented the likes of Udinese, Real Zaragoza and Deportivo de La Coruña. 

by Patrick Ribeiro 

Comments (7)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

What is your source for the Jovic to Benfica transfer? Any idea why there has been no official confirmation from Benfica?

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Yes it has been a rather quiet and uneventful January transfer in Europe this season. I think for the Portuguese big 3, it was a successful window for the fact that none lost any major important player to the rich shark clubs, as has become...

Yes it has been a rather quiet and uneventful January transfer in Europe this season. I think for the Portuguese big 3, it was a successful window for the fact that none lost any major important player to the rich shark clubs, as has become expected. In terms of the players bought, I think for all 3 teams it was a case of adding squad options, "fine tuning the squad", as accurately stated in the article. I don't think there was a single signing that created huge excitement from fans of any of the clubs. The likes of Grimaldo and Jovic at SLB, Bruno Cesar and Coates at SCP and Marega and Suk at FCP, are all decent signings but ones which will likely be squad members rather than instant first teamers who will immediately set the world alight. We shall see in due time as the season reaches it's climax, which club strengthened the best.

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Five stars for the coat Helder Postiga is wearing in that picture. Is that a pic of the Rio Ave brass or is that a pic from the Soprano's??

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I wouldn't say he's "set the world alight", but Bruno Cesar has had a very positive impact since signing with Sporting. He's really been quite exceptional, especially considering the fact he was picked up on a free. He's also still only 27 years...

I wouldn't say he's "set the world alight", but Bruno Cesar has had a very positive impact since signing with Sporting. He's really been quite exceptional, especially considering the fact he was picked up on a free. He's also still only 27 years old. Good piece of business.

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€1.4m for Suk Hyun-Jun, really? I would have guessed Setubal would have let go their star striker for a little more than this, maybe around €3m.

Imbula gone for £18.3m, which is roughly €24m, means FC Porto will actually generate a profit...

€1.4m for Suk Hyun-Jun, really? I would have guessed Setubal would have let go their star striker for a little more than this, maybe around €3m.

Imbula gone for £18.3m, which is roughly €24m, means FC Porto will actually generate a profit (unless the upside goes to Doyen) from a player which was their record transfer ever and at the same time, one of their biggest flops. Go figure... here again, I have a feeling Sunderland did not negotiate very well.

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Good transfer window business by Sporting. While it was a little sad to see Fredy Montero go, he wasn't the same type of player that he was in his first six months at the club. He does have a lot of skill and good finishing ability, but he seemed...

Good transfer window business by Sporting. While it was a little sad to see Fredy Montero go, he wasn't the same type of player that he was in his first six months at the club. He does have a lot of skill and good finishing ability, but he seemed way too unaggressive in the final third for me for a long time now. That to me hindered the attack. And so overall I'm happy that we kept Teo Gutierrez though as he's the better striker the better goal getter and I was a little unhappy with the news about him possibly leaving. I felt that he was and still is a great signing for Sporting and definitely has a big part to play the ONLY thing that hindered him was his injury problems and of course the phenomenal form of Islam Slimani.

But this brings us to the point that every top level team should have at least two top quality strikers who you know can win games for you. And thats why I still think Teo Gutierrez is important for us. I was happy to read the news that Jorge Jesus wanted to keep him and counts on him. Not every game Slimani would be available and once Teo gets back fit which I think he almost is now he definitely will prove his worth. On the couple occasions that he did play for us he did look sharp and dangerous. Teo is a good striker no doubt about it and I hope he stays on now and beyond this season.

Also Hernan Barcos is a decent striker as well too who definitely has that lethal quality in the box and he's powerful too like Slimani so Im happy with him as well. He's a goalscorer thats hungry and thats what I like. Thats something all three of our strikers have Slimani Teo and Barcos all are hungry strikers. I'm really happy with our options up top now. I just wish Teo stays fit too.

Bruno Cesar has been a great signing for us too, he's always been a good goal scoring midfielder and he's been just that for Sporting as well. He brings quality and experience and has fit right into the side seamlessly.

I really like the signing of Marvin Zeegelaar. For me Jefferson has been one of the most important players for Sporting not only in defense but also in attack. His speed and dribbling ability and crossing ability give us so much attack down the left flanks and basically when he's not available our game drops. Funny to say that since he's a left back but wing backs are really important in wing play. Whenever Jonathon Silva played we lacked that drive and cutting edge on the left flank cause Jonathon wasn't good running the ball up the field and rarely beat players one on one. Basically Marvin Zeegelaar brings all the ability you want in a good left back or left wingback. He's quick got good skill, powerful , he's a perfect alternative to Jefferson. Now I feel confident that whoever plays Jefferson or Marvin that our left back position will be solid and our left wing attacks will be good as well.

Happy we kept all our main stars as well, good January window for Sporting, we look well prepared and equipped for the rest of the second half of the season and I'm looking forward to it! Forca Sporting!

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