As club football returns to the agenda across Europe this weekend, the futures of several of Portugal’s young talents are in the news. While André Silva’s loan move to Sevilla is set to be made permanent, fellow Seleção teammate Rúben Neves is linked with Juventus while Manchester City look to tie down Bernardo Silva in England.
Meanwhile, Everton boss Marco Silva has the praises of the Brazilian coaching staff ringing in his ears due to his work with young sensation Richarlison, while veteran defender Bruno Alves admits he harbours dreams of a return to Portugal with his beloved FC Porto.
Silva will stay here - Sevilla
Fresh from his goal for Portugal against Poland this week, André Silva returned to training in Spain with Sevilla ahead of their La Liga match with Real Valladolid this weekend, with the club confirming that they will exercise their option to make his loan deal from AC Milan permanent.
The 23-year-old former Porto forward made the switch from Italy to Spain during the summer on a one-year deal with an optional purchase for €30m. Silva has quickly found his feet in La Liga and has scored seven times in 11 games for the Andalusians, including both goals in their 3-0 win over Real Madrid in September.
“The fans can rest assured, the player will stay with us with a contract for many seasons,” Sevilla director Joaquin Caparros told Sevilla’s website.
“We have the will and the opportunity to keep the player here. Milan can say what they want, they’re looking at him again as are many other clubs who want him, but no-one can do anything.
“We have this option to buy and at the end of the season, or even before, we’ll exercise it.”
City look to tie down Bernardo
English Premier League champions Manchester City are keen to tie Bernardo Silva down to a new contract, just 16 months after signing the Portugal midfielder from Monaco.
Bernardo has been one of the standout players in England’s top flight so far this season, with his list of admirers growing following his Man of the Match performance in the Manchester derby as City beat José Mourinho’s Manchester United 3-1 earlier this month.
According to reports, talks over a new deal have already started and an agreement is expected to be finalised. The news is sure to please City fans, many of whom feel Bernardo is the natural replacement for Spaniard David Silva, who has become an iconic figure at the Etihad Stadium over the last nine seasons.
David Silva clearly agrees with the esteem in which Bernardo is held, and appeared to support the idea that the Portuguese is his heir. Speaking last week, the former Valencia man said: “Bernardo is a brilliant player with lots of quality who works hard. He's got a huge amount of quality. Football moves on, players come, and players go. But there's always someone to come in and fill your shoes and we're lucky that we've got lots of players to do that.”
Juve keen on Neves
While Bernardo and André Silva appear set to remain with their current clubs, speculation continues to follow Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Rúben Neves. The former Porto man has been linked with a host of clubs across Europe, and Turin-based Tuttosport believe Juventus have stepped up their interest.
According to the paper, Juventus director Fabio Paratici and president Andrea Agnelli met with Neves’ agent Jorge Mendes to discuss the possibility of signing the 21-year-old as early as January. Neves’ availability to assist in Juve’s Champions League campaign is believed to be a factor in exploring the possibility of doing a deal mid-season.
Neves has been a key figure in Nuno Espírito Santo’s Wolves midfield side this season alongside the experienced João Moutinho. Neves has played every minute of the league campaign so far and has ranked high among his fellow midfielders on passing and defensive statistics.
“Porto the club of my heart” - Alves
At the other end of his footballing career is Bruno Alves, and the veteran defender has been a pleasant story so far in this season’s coverage of Portuguese players playing abroad. The former Porto man joined Serie A newcomers Parma in Italy this summer after leaving Scottish club Rangers, following a campaign marred with injury issues last year.
Alves, who turns 37 at the end of this month, has been an ever-present for the Gialloblu so far this season as Parma have made light work of their return to the top flight. Alves’ men sit in 9th place in Serie A after an impressive 2-1 victory away at Torino in their last outing before the international break.
Speaking about future plans, Alves suggests he aims for a return to Portugal after his second stint in Italy ends. “I had the chance to return to Portugal before coming to Italy but it was not the right time,” he said. “There was an opportunity to go to Sporting two or three years ago. It did not happen, not due to lack of will. I respected the interest as Sporting are a great club.”
There is no doubt which club still holds the defender’s affections, however, with Alves stressing his preference for former club Porto. “Porto has always been the club of my heart and where I had my best moments. I cannot hide my affections, but I do not know if age counts or not. I leave all doors open, but I would like to go back to Porto.”
Silva key to Richarlison success – Brazil staff
Richarlison’s winning goal for Brazil in their victory over Cameroon during the international break has added weight to the idea that the 21-year-old revelation could soon become a fixture in the forward line of the 5-time world champions.
The Everton man scored his third goal in just six matches for Brazil, and national team coach Tite and his assistant Cleber Xavier have both hailed the influence of Portuguese boss Marco Silva on the Richarlison’s development.
“There are many great coaches in the Premier League and Marco Silva is an important figure for Richarlison,” Tite told evertonfc.com. “Richarlison grew up really fast in Brazil and has developed very quickly. He is a great player.”
Former Sporting coach Silva made the signing of Richarlison a priority when he arrived at Goodison Park in the summer, having worked with the youngster at Watford last season. For Brazil assistant Cleber Xavier, Silva has been the instrumental figure in Richarlison’s rise in English football.
“Marco Silva is really important in his career, he brought him to Watford then Everton,” said Xavier. “That is something which is really good for us. We exchange information between the Club and the national team.
“He played as a winger for Watford and initially Everton, and for Brazil we were using him as a centre-forward - the position he has been playing for Everton recently, too.
“This is really positive and Marco Silva is one of the most important guys in developing his career.”
By Sean Gillen