With one round of matches still to go in the 2016/17 Liga NOS season, Sporting have begun the job of restructuring their squad for next year after a disappointing campaign.

The Lisbon club yesterday announced the signings of Italian right-back Cristiano Piccini and Brazilian attacking midfielder Mattheus Oliveira, both penning contracts until 2022 with buyout clauses of €45 million and €60 million respectively.

The defender, 24 years old, cost Sporting €3.5m from La Liga club Betis, while 22-year-old Mattheus – son of Brazilian legend Bebeto – is reported to have cost around €1m from Estoril.

“I want to help Sporting win trophies. I believe we can have a lot of success in the coming years,” said Piccini. The Italian full-back, who began his career at Fiorentina, described himself as “a hard-working offensive full-back who likes to advance up the right flank and provide assists and even score a few goals.”

Mattheus has impressed in Portugal over two seasons at Estoril and has played for Brazil at U20 level. “I didn’t think twice about signing. I want to help the club win trophies and put it where it deserves to be,” he said.

Mattheus’s famous father gave his seal of approval to the move, expressing his pride and enthusiasm (judging by his liberal use of exclamation marks) at a big step up in his son’s career. Using his twitter account, Bebeto wrote: “I’m very proud of you my son!!! Keep working hard, stay humble and you’ll go far!! I hope you go down in Sporting’s history!!”

by Tom Kundert


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"Is this squad stronger than the Euro 2016 squad? That's impossible to say. What I can say is that I'm as confident in this squad as I was for the Euro."

Fernando Santos
(Portugal coach after announcing the Seleção squad for World Cup 2018)