Sporting’s gamble on Viktor Gyökeres pays off handsomely

When Sporting CP signed Viktor Gyökeres from Coventry City in the summer of 2023, most thought he would improve the side and hoped he could be the missing part of the jigsaw. But few would have expected the Swede to produce the sort of football he has in his short time in Lisbon.

Sporting last won the Primeira Liga in 2020/21. That was their first title since their 18th in 2001/02. Given the successes of Porto and Benfica over the past 20 years, Sporting fans may have worried that they may have to wait nearly 20 years for another. But the signing of Gyökeres has put them within touching distance of their second title in four seasons. 

Two-horse race for 2023/24 title

In the latest Primeira Liga betting, Sporting is now just -250 to win the championship. Their closest rivals are Benfica at +175. It’s a two-horse race according to the bookmakers, as after the two leading teams, the football odds today on Porto to win the league are +5000, with Braga at +25000.

Viktor Gyökeres set to cost big money

During his time at Coventry City, it was rumoured that Viktor Gyökeres had plenty of interest from Premier League clubs. Sadly for them, none were prepared to gamble on the former Brighton striker, and as a result, Sporting is reaping the rewards.

Coventry City plays in the Championship, the second tier of English football. Premier League clubs seem reluctant to pay big money to sign players from the Championship, preferring to buy what they regard as the finished article from a European club.

One of Chelsea or Arsenal, or maybe even Manchester United, is expected to come in for Gyökeres this summer. And when they do, they are likely to have to meet his €100 million release clause. That’s roughly four times the amount Sporting paid Coventry City for the player just 12 months earlier.

Short-sighted policy

This lays bare the folly of the Premier League clubs’ policy of looking overseas for talent, instead of taking a chance on a player right in front of their noses.

But, in fairness to the Premier League clubs, when it comes to Viktor Gyökeres, no one could have anticipated he would be this good in Portugal. Had anyone known, they would have signed him. And Coventry City would have charged a lot more than they did.

Gyökeres has been exceptional. His goals and assists combined way outnumber his matches played in the Primeira Liga. And his style of play is sensational to watch. Is there currently a better sight in football than the big Swede running at a petrified defence?

Could FFP see Gyökeres stay in Portugal?

The downside to this is fans of Sporting CP and anybody who enjoys watching the top players ply their trade in Portugal probably won’t get to see Gyökeres after this summer.

The only thing it seems that could prevent his transfer out of the Primeira Liga is the Financial Fair Play rules imposed on the Premier League clubs.

There is little doubt that the cash is there in England to buy Gyökeres. It’s just a case of whether or not the big English clubs can navigate the rules to get the deal done. If they can, Sporting cash in handsomely. If they can’t, fans get to see him in action for another year and the Lions will be well placed to fight for the title again.