The immediate future of Renato Sanches appears to have been resolved after Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac confirmed the midfielder will remain with the club. Sanches spoke openly about uncertainties over his role in Munich during the week, but Kovac has revealed the Portuguese will stay with assurances of more football with the German champions.
Meanwhile, Nélson Oliveira embarks on a new chapter of his career with a move to Greece and AEK Athens, where he will link up with coach Miguel Cardoso and a growing contingent of Portuguese, while Fábio Coentrão looks set to join rivals PAOK and Iuri Medeiros heads to Germany to join Nurnberg from Sporting after a brief loan spell in Poland.
Former Benfica star Sanches told media reporters during the week that he was prepared to stay with Bayern Munich, but was keen to avoid a repeat of last season during which the 21-year-old was given just three starts in the Bundesliga. Reports have long maintained that Bayern were uneasy with the idea of selling Sanches, and coach Niko Kovac confirmed this weekend that the midfielder is going nowhere.
“Renato Sanches will stay, we spoke with him and told him we want to keep him here,” Kovac said. “We put our reasons on the table. Of course he reflected on what to do at the end of last season, but he has reconsidered and Renato sees his future here. I am certain he will have more game time this season than last season."
For his part, Sanches is quoted as telling reporters that Kovac has issued renewed assurances. “I just want to play football. I have spoken to the coach and he has promised he will give me more opportunities. I and some other players can start from scratch. I am a good player and the club believes in me.”
Bayern are currently in the United States preparing for the new season, which begins with the German Supercup against Borussia Dortmund on August 3rd in Dortmund.
Oliveira joins Cardoso’s AEK revolution
One former Benfica man who is on the move is striker Nélson Oliveira, with the striker bringing an end to his turbulent spell in English football by joining Greek side AEK Athens from Norwich City on a two-year contract.
Oliveira spent the second half of last season on-loan with Reading, coached by José Gomes, having been frozen out at Norwich. The 27-year-old went some way towards regaining momentum during his stay at Reading, but the Royals were always unlikely to have the means to meet Oliveira’s wage demands or ambitions.
AEK have been rebuilding under the guidance of new coach Miguel Cardoso, with the former Rio Ave boss already having recruited three other Portuguese in the shape of defender Paulinho (Chaves), Sporting’s Francisco Geraldes on a loan deal and former Benfica and Boavista midfielder David Simão. With left-back Hélder Lopes and vice-captain André Simões already at AEK, the Portuguese contingent at the club now grows to six.
"It is a fact that the existence of a Portuguese coach, with whom we can communicate more easily, helped me make my final decision,” Oliveira said. “I spoke with some football players of AEK, with David Simão, who is a friend, I have played with Paulinho. The other lads from Portugal I do not know personally but of course the fact that there are some football players from my home country helped me my decision.
"It was a little difficult to make the decision, but it was easier when I saw the will and persistence of the AEK people. They showed me how much I was wanted. At this moment I am very happy and very grateful for the effort that has been made to bring me here and I will my best to repay the confidence shown in me.
"AEK is a big team, a team that was in last year’s Champions League, and two years ago won the championship. I'm at a team that can give me what I want to be in a competitive league. But I cannot do this unless I give it all this year. That's why I know I will give my best, along with teammates and the staff, to make our fans happy. We want to win the championship.”
More transfers: Medeiros, Coentrão
The Greek Super League looks set for a competitive season, with the top three clubs all coached by Portuguese heading into the new campaign. Defending champions PAOK lost inspiration coach Razvan Lucescu to Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal during the summer, with Abel Ferreira drafted in from Braga to replace the Romanian.
Abel’s current objective in the market sees him attempting to tie up a deal for Portuguese international Fábio Coentrão. The former Benfica, Real Madrid and, more recently, Rio Ave left-back arrived in Thessaloniki on Friday to finalise terms on a two-year contract. According to O Jogo, Coentrão has not made a final decision on the move despite Greek reports suggesting the deal is complete.
The general flow of players heading to Greece is widespread. Latest exports see 23-year-old forward Barata leaving Marítimo for Ergotelis and Feirense striker Fábio Sturgeon, 25, moving to Xanthi.
Elsewhere, Iuri Medeiros has left Sporting to sign for German second-tier club Nurnberg. Medeiros spent the first half of last season on-loan with Genoa in Italy before moving to Poland’s Legia Warsaw for the closing half of the campaign. The 25-year-old has signed a four-year contract with Nurnberg, who were relegated from the Bundesliga last season, and in doing so brings to and end a 14-year association with Sporting.
“FC Nurnberg is a big club in Germany, which definitely belongs in the first Bundesliga,” Medeiros told the club’s website. “In the discussions with those responsible, I have found that I can fully identify with the goals of the club. And Matheus Pereira has only told me good things. He told me it’s a great club and I will feel comfortable here.”