The transfer window closed across most of Europe on Thursday evening without many high-profile deals, but there was still plenty of activity involving Portuguese players taking on new challenges.
Perhaps the biggest story on deadline day is Rodrigo Ribeiro’s shock loan move from Sporting to Premier League outfit Nottingham Forest. Meanwhile, ex-Braga striker Vitinha has left Marseille for Italian side Genoa, while Carlos Carvalhal’s remarkable raid on Portuguese talent ended with Ruben Vezo joining the ranks at Greek giants Olympiacos.
Ribeiro “a player with quality” – Nuno
Rodrigo Ribeiro’s move, at the age of just 18, from Sporting to Premier League relegation-battlers Nottingham Forest came as a surprise to many. The Portugal under-20 international striker joins Nuno Espirito Santo’s Forest on a loan deal with an option to make his stay at the City Ground permanent in the summer.
Ribeiro was one of three late deals concluded by Forest at the end of the window to assist their fight to stay in the top flight. Highly-rated United States midfielder Gio Reyna arrived on loan from Borussia Dortmund, while Belgian goalkeeper Matz Sels was signed on a permanent deal from French club Strasbourg.
“We’ve been able to bring players that I think will be helpful for us, give us more options,” Nuno said in his press conference on Friday. “Could we see plenty of Ribeiro despite his age? We could see plenty of all the players [we signed] it will be based on the moments and the situation of the squad. He’s a young player with quality, so it’s up to us to try to improve him so he becomes a valid option for us.”
Vitinha makes fresh start in Italy
An intriguing deal in Serie A saw Genoa bring in former Braga man Vitinha on loan from Marseille, where the striker had endured a tough 2023 since switching to the Stade Velodrome. Vitinha was a costly acquisition for Marseille during last season’s winter transfer window, with Braga earning a fee in the region of €32m.
Vitinha struggled in French football, scoring just 6 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions for OM. Genoa will have the option to make the Cabeceiras de Basto native’s move permanent in the summer for a fee of €25m according to reports. Genoa’s most prominent historical player from Portugal is Miguel Veloso, who spent five strong years with the club across two spells.
Lille bring in Portuguese duo Morais, Fernandes after Djaló departure
French club Lille have been busy in the window concerning Portuguese players. Having last week sold defender Tiago Djaló to Juventus, Paulo Fonseca’s side raided Portugal for two players in recent days: Rafael Fernandes from Arouca and Tiago Morais from Boavista.
Setúbal-born centre-back Fernandes cost Les Dogues €3m, which will be split evenly between Arouca and former club Sporting, who retained half of the player’s rights. “We are delighted to announce the arrival of Rafael, whom our recruitment unit has followed closely since his training period at Sporting Clube Portugal,” said Lille president Olivier Létang. “Rafael is a solid, powerful defender who moves quickly, with significant potential still to be developed.”
Speaking to the club’s media, Fernandes added: “I am very proud and honoured to be a new LOSC player. The best response and the greatest reward I can give to this opportunity offered to me is to work very hard every day to help the team. The fans can expect from me to see a player who will give his all at all times to help the team achieve its goals and move forward.”
Winger Morais is reported to have cost Lille around €4m from Boavista. “I’m really happy to be here,” he told the media. “The most important thing is the team so I’m going to try to help the team. Thanks to the supporters, I appreciate them. We will do it together.”
Vezo joins Olympiacos’ Portuguese influx
Carlos Carvalhal’s Olympiacos have been on an astonishing drive to add Portuguese talent since the turn of the year. Rúben Vezo’s arrival from Levante on deadline day made him the 5th Luso signing in the window and boosted the overall number in the squad to seven first-team Portuguese players.
Vezo could form a Portuguese centre-back pairing with fellow new boy David Carmo, who joined on-loan from Porto earlier in the month. Also strengthening Carvalhal’s ranks during the window has been Gelson Martins from Monaco, André Horta from Braga and Chiquinho from Benfica. With Daniel Podence and Joao Carvalho already at the Karaiskakis Stadium, Carvalhal could field a majority Portuguese line-up in the Super League very soon.
Olympiacos are currently 4th in the Greek top flight, but the gap to leaders PAOK is just six points. This weekend Carvalhal’s men travel to meet Panathinaikos in what is dubbed ‘the derby of the eternal rivals’ in Athens.
Crespo makes Spain move; Portugal international Rodrigues to Saudi; Sidnei Tavares to MLS
Midfielder Miguel Crespo has left Turkish giants Fenerbahce for Ray Vallecano on a six-month loan deal. Crespo, who has previously been linked with Atletico Madrid, instead moves to Rayo in the Spanish capital, where he will link up with veteran countryman Bebé, who is currently starring at AFCON with Cape Verde.
Seleção international Kévin Rodrigues is on the move again, with the left-back also leaving Turkey and Adana Demirspor to join Saudi Arabians Al Qadsiah. Also leaving Europe is Sidnei Tavares, who joins Major League Soccer club Colorado Rapids in the United States on a short-term loan deal from FC Porto.
Other notable deals involving Portuguese players:
Ussumane Djaló, Porto to Southampton
Danny Henriques, FC Universitatea 1948 to AEK Larnaca
Gaudêncio Sissé, B SAD to SV Grün-Weiss Rieder
Asumah Abubakar, Luzern to Grasshoppers
Rúben Oliveira, B SAD to FC Telavi
André Ferreira, Granada to Valladolid