Shakhtar Donetsk’s Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca has seen his name in the headlines in Ukraine and Italy this week as a potential move to Roma has dominated the local agendas. Fonseca has responded to the speculation by hinting he is ready to move clubs, while latest reports indicate Shakhtar will allow their manager to leave for free as a gesture of good will.

Meanwhile, transfer season is gathering pace and Bruno Varela, Nélson Semedo, João Cancelo and André Gomes feature in the latest rounds of speculation. Sporting graduate Guima has already sealed his future with a move to Polish club LKS Lodz, while French club Lille have rewarded midfielder Xeka with a new contract.

Former Porto boss Fonseca could be set to end his three-year spell with Shakhtar after reports emerged that the Ukrainian champions are willing to wave the €5m compensation package for his exit as recognition of his work with the club. The 47-year-old is currently thought to be high on the wish-list of Italian side Roma, who dispensed with manager Claudio Ranieri at the end of the Serie A season.

Fonseca, who has won three league championships back-to-back in Ukraine, spoke about his future earlier this week. “A lot of things can happen in football,” he said. “Everyone knows I’m an ambitious coach and who knows, maybe one day I’ll coach a club in Europe.

“In these three years we’ve won a lot and we’ve respected the expectations of the fans: to beat Dynamo Kiev. But I’ve always had deep respect for them, we’ve been an example of a fair rivalry. In the past I’ve met the President of Dynamo.

“I can never say never if an offer comes in from someone else, but honestly I’m so attached to Shakhtar, that it would be very difficult. And my wife wouldn’t take it well. These three years have been beautiful and full of satisfaction.”

Whether Fonseca’s next step is the Italian capital remains to be seen, with reports indicating he travelled to Madrid on Tuesday to meet with officials from Roma, who have also been linked with moves for Ajax’s Erik ten Hag and Torino’s Sinisa Mihajlovic. Fonseca is believed to have sought assurances from Roma over the conditions of his arrival and the process of building a competitive team to challenge in the Italian top flight.


Ajax looking to secure Varela

Bruno Varela has admitted that he was less than satisfied the treatment he received prior to his departure Benfica midway through last season, as Dutch champions Ajax continue to negotiate with the Lisbon club over a permanent deal for the goalkeeper.

The 24-year-old left the Estádio da Luz last winter on a six-month loan deal, but did not feature for Ajax during the second half of the campaign. However, Varela clearly impressed those at the club enough that Ajax are hoping to make the deal permanent, having offered €3.5m to secure his services. Benfica are believed to be holding out for the original €5m activation clause, but the sides are expected to reach a compromise.

For his part, Varela spoke to O Jogo earlier this week about his January exit, shortly after Bruno Lage took charge. “I had been a starter the previous season, I made a mistake and I was dropped,” he said. “But I don’t comment on that because I respect the decision of the coaches regardless of how I was treated. But I did not like how I was treated, not at all. I went on to be the third goalkeeper and obviously I was not satisfied.

“I have a great relationship with Mr Lage. He coached me when I was a youngster. When he arrived, I was already leaving. Odisseas was in goal and there was no need to change that and Svilar was in the cups. We spoke at that time and the boss told me it was best for me to leave.”


Xeka renews Lille contract; Guima heads to Poland

Former Braga midfielder Xeka has signed a contract extension with Lille tying him to the club until 2022. The 24-year-old was a regular in the Lille midfield last season as Christophe Gaultier’s side surprised many by finishing runners-up to Paris Saint-Germain to secure Champions League football for next season. Lille surprised many with their strong season, and it is tempting to play agen sbobet and place bets on the Portuguese-heavy outfit becoming winners again in 2019/20.

Elsewhere, Ricardo Guima has left Sporting for Polish club LKS Lodz. The 23-year-old, who has spent the last two seasons on-loan at Académica de Coimbra, was presented to the Polish media on Tuesday afternoon. Lodz, who won the Polish title in 1998, were promoted back to the Ekstraklasa last season.



Cancelo linked with City; Semedo a wanted man; West Ham keen on Gomes

João Cancelo’s future with Juventus remains uncertain as speculation continues to surround the Portugal right-back despite the departure of boss Massimiliano Allegri. Outgoing Bianconeri boss Allegri was believed to be keen on replacing Cancelo with a full-back offering different qualities, and similar reports are now emerging as Maurizio Sarri is expected to take the job in Turin.

Sarri is thought to see Cancelo as unsuited to a right-back role and if unveiled as Juve boss this month, would be prepared to allow the 25-year-old to leave the club. In England, Manchester City have been suggested as a possible destination, with The Sun claiming the Premier League champions will offer €56m to bring Cancelo to the Etihad as a replacement for Inter Milan bound Danilo.

Another full-back who remains in the gossip columns is Barcelona’s Nélson Semedo. The former Benfica right-back has been linked with a big money move to England or Italy, but the latest speculation surrounds interest from Atletico Madrid. According to Diario Sport, Atleti are insistent that Semedo be included in any deal taking Antoine Griezmann to Camp Nou. Marca also claims Semedo is keen to leave for more regular first-team football, although Barca have so far shown a desire to retain the 25-year-old.

A preferable source of fund-raising for Barca would be the sale of André Gomes, who struggled to adapt at the club after a high-profile move from Valencia in 2016. Gomes spent last season on-loan at Everton, where he impressed enough to see his name linked with various Premier League clubs. Latest to be connected with keeping Gomes in England are West Ham United, who have had an €18m bid for the former Benfica man rejected but have made a renewed €22.5m offer according to Diario Sport.

By Sean Gillen

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“We're not magicians. The Portuguese manager has a DNA, he's able to adapt to the various leagues and countries. Adapting is something many coaches from other nations aren't able to do. This gives us a great advantage

Leonardo Jardim
(on why Portuguese coaches prosper worldwide)