Posts Tagged ‘Leonardo Jardim’

Mexican Winger Jesus Corona Joins FC Porto

Mexican Winger Jesus Corona Joins FC Porto

Portuguese clubs were busy up to the final hours of this summer’s transfer window. The August 31st deadline marked the end of one of the most eventful transfer periods in recent memory.

FC Porto was the most active in the final days, signing Mexican pair Jesús Corona and Miguel Layún. The club signed Corona from Twente for €10,5 million and will possess 70% of his ownership rights. While, full-back Layún arrives on loan from Watford. He should bolster the club’s flanks after the departure of both Danilo and Alex Sandro.

Porto also loaned out Ricardo Pereira, Adrián López, Hernâni and Juan Quintero. Former Portuguese international Rolando moved to French giants Marseille on a permanent deal, finally ending a long standoff with the club.

Benfica made two low profile signings on Monday. Marvin Loría arrived on-loan from Deportivo Saprissa in Costa Rica. The deal includes an option to buy. They also signed defender Emir Azemovic from Partizan Belgrade. Both players are expected to remain with the B squad this season. The club also loaned Daniel Candeias to Ligue 2 club Metz.

But it was the deals they made on Tuesday that drew much attention. The transfer deadline was one day later in England than most of Europe and Benfica took advantage, sending two underachieving players on-loan to the Championship. Dutch Winger Ola John joined Reading FC and Nelson Oliveira moved to Nottingham Forest. For Oliveira, it is his sixth loan since 2009.

Sporting sold Chilean striker Diego Rubio to Spanish second division club Real Valladolid. Defender Ramy Rabia was also sold to Egyptian club Al-Ahly for €750,000. Wilson Eduardo, who has spent the last few seasons on loan, was allowed to join Braga. No terms have been released.

Braga and Belenenses bolster their line-ups

Outside of the ‘Big Three’, Braga made several good signings. Os Guerreiros do Minho signed highly rated Brazilian midfielder Filipe Augusto on-loan from Rio Ave. They also signed Spanish midfielder Aarón Ñíguez on a free transfer after he opted out of his contract with Elche.

And they made possibly the most surprising move of any Portuguese club in the final week, sending Pedro Tiba on loan to Real Valladolid. Tiba blamed Braga manager Paulo Fonseca for his loss of playing time.

“Why did I stop being a starter? Ask the manager! I came here [Valladolid] because I knew that I would not be as happy as I was last season. I was called up to three league matches and did not leave the bench. Am I ready to play? Of course I am,” he said.

The club also loaned Colombian forward Erik Moreno to Real Valladolid, along with Tiba. Tiago Gomes moved to Metz on a season-long loan as well. Brazilian defender Aderlan Santos was sold to Valencia. Braga announced that they made a handsome profit of €16,3 million from the transfer window, proving once again that the club is a model of fiscal management.

Lisbon-area club Belenenses qualified for the group stages of the Europa League last week. They significantly boosted their chances of advancing into the knockout stages by making two very cost-effective deals. They signed Cape-Verdan winger Kuca on loan from Karabükspor. He was excellent last season for Estoril. They also signed Luís Leal on a season-long loan from APOEL.

AS Monaco add Marcos Lopes and Fábio Coentrão

Leonardo Jardim continues to put his stamp on AS Monaco, signing Marcos Lopes and Fábio Coentrão. Coentrão arrives on loan from Real Madrid. The Portuguese international will be looking to revive his career after two injury-plagued seasons at the Bernabeu.

Marcos ‘Rony’ Lopes signed a five-year deal with Monaco. His departure from Manchester City caught many by surprise, even his own manager it seems. Just hours before the deal was announced Manuel Pellegrini told media that the 19-year-old would be loaned out this season.

Lopes famously scored just minutes after coming on in his senior debut with the club in a January 2013 League Cup match against Watford. It seemed that he was destined to be the first academy graduate to establish himself in the senior squad since the club was bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008. But it was not meant to be.

The deal seems to reflect a new reality in football. Rich clubs like Manchester City are under immense pressure to win championships every season and therefore, they do not have the time or patience to develop young footballers. Teams like City, Manchester United, Chelsea, and others are preferring instead to buy the finished product.

Still, it looks like it could be an excellent move for Marcos Lopes. He spent last season on loan at Lille and knows the French league well.

“Monaco is an excellent club for a player to develop. It is going to be a good challenge for me,” he said.

Monaco will be a club to watch for fans of the Portuguese game. Coentrão and Lopes join Bernardo Silva, Ivan Cavaleiro, Ricardo Carvalho, João Moutinho and Hélder Costa, to bring the total to seven Portuguese players.

In Spain, the club to watch is Valencia, which boasts three talented young Portuguese players in Ruben Vezo, Andre Gomes and João Cancelo. Not to mention Portuguese manager Nuno Espírito Santo. There are also strong Portuguese contingents at Real Madrid and Sevilla.

In two lesser known cases, English Championship side Sheffield Wednesday has a strong Portuguese presence as well. As does Ligue 2 club Metz, which recently added Daniel Candeias and Tiago Gomes.

Elsewhere, Portugal U21 defender Tiago Ilori was loaned by Liverpool to Premier League club Aston Villa. It will be his third loan spell since leaving Sporting in 2013. Undoubtedly talented but he has been terribly unlucky with injuries.

Seleção in action

Portugal will face Euro 2016 hosts France in a friendly on Friday in Lisbon before traveling to Albania for a qualifier next Monday. Fernando Santos will be without Moutinho, William Carvalho, Coentrão and Andre Gomes because of injuries.

According to reports, Santos has been practicing with a midfield trio of Danilo, Adrien and João Mário. The Portuguese manager is expected to drop the ‘false 9’ in favour of Éder as the striker, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani. French-born Adrien spoke about the match against France.

“France is a great squad but so is Portugal. I believe it will be a very close match. We need to control possession and take advantage of France’s weaknesses,” Adrien.

Portugal are in first-place in group I with three matches left. The Seleção lost to Albania 1-0 in their first Euro 2016 qualifying match last September. It would prove to be Paulo Bento’s last match in charge of Portugal. No doubt revenge will be on the mind of some of the players.

Rui Jorge’s new-look U21 squad will also face Albania in its first Euro 2017 qualifier on 8 September. It is the squad’s first match since the loss to Sweden on penalties in the final at the last European Championships earlier this summer. Gonçalo Paciência was forced to withdraw because of an ankle injury. Belenenses winger Fábio Sturgeon has taken his place on the squad.

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Sporting-Lisbon-Adrien-Silva_2367887

Adrien Silva has been a major part of Sporting Lisbon’s success this season. The Portuguese midfielder has been a member of the club since the age of 13 and is finally getting a chance to play regularly.

Born in Angoulême, France, he began playing football with French club Bordeaux. At the age of 11, his parents moved to the Minho region of Portugal. After spending time with local club Associação Recreativa e Cultural de Paçô, Silva was signed by Sporting in 2002.

He made his debut with the main club at the age of 18 during the 2007-08 season under then manager Paulo Bento. However, he would soon find playing time hard to come by. He would eventually be loaned to Israeli club Maccabi Haifa for the 2010-11 season where he did not see much action either.

The following year, Silva was loaned to Portuguese club Académica where his career began to take off. He would play 37 matches for the club in all competitions, scoring eight goals. He would help the club win the Portuguese Cup that season as well.

At the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Silva returned to Sporting where he was expected to compete for a starting position in midfield. The club was in turmoil that season, on and off the field. They would go through three managers before finishing a disappointing seventh in the league.

This season under Leonardo Jardim, Silva is finally seeing regular action with the club. He plays alongside Andre Martins in a midfield triangle, with William Carvalho in the defensive role.

A box-to-box midfielder, Silva is known for his passing and dribbling skills. He told Portuguese football publication Record in July 2012 that he prefers to play as a ‘number 10.’

The son of a Portuguese father and a French mother, Silva has committed his international future to Portugal. He played for Portugal’s youth squads, making a total of 41 caps in all levels.

He received his first call-up to the Selecção squad in September 2013 as an injury replacement for Ruben Micael. However, he is yet to receive an international cap with Portugal.

Silva was recently named Sporting Lisbon’s Player of the Year for 2013. And his profile has begun to grow outside Portugal as well. West Bromwich Albion, Everton and West Ham United are all rumored to be interested in him.

He is under contract with Sporting until 2017. The deal includes a release clause of €40 million.

Carlos-Mané

Portuguese winger Carlos Mané made the most of his first ever start with Sporting Lisbon’s senior squad by scoring a sensational goal in a League Cup match against Marítimo on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old took control of the ball just inside the box before unleashing a curler passed goalkeeper Wellington to put his team ahead. Sporting would go on to win 3-0.

The League Cup is one of two domestic cup competitions in Portugal. In the group stages, clubs like Sporting often play in empty stadiums and the matches rarely receive much attention even in the Portuguese media.

But Carlos Mané’s brilliant strike against the Madeira-based club made headlines in what was a fairly eventful week in Portuguese football. All of Portugal’s major football dailies made mention of the goal on their front page the day after.

Like his rivals at FC Porto and Benfica, Sporting manager Leonardo Jardim has chosen to rest many of his more established players so far in the competition. In doing so, he has given Mané and other young academy players more game action with the senior club.

The normally stoic-looking Jardim was caught on camera flashing a rare smile after his young star put his team ahead against Marítimo.

Born in Lisbon, Mané is a member of Portugal’s large Bissau-Guinean community which is developing an excellent football tradition. Sporting Braga striker Éder and Galatasaray winger Bruma were both born in the country but moved to Portugal at a young age.

Mané comes from Quinta do Mocho in the Sacavém district of Lisbon, near the city’s international airport. The community remains very close to his heart.

He paid tribute to his old Lisbon neighborhood after making his debut as a substitute in a league match against Vitória Setúbal in October.

“It was a very special day for me, which I will never forget. Thank you to my family. Thank you to all the sportinguistas. Thank you, Quinta do Mocho,” he said.

Mané joined the club at the age of seven. He was a key player when Sporting Lisbon’s youth outfit won the Portuguese Junior Championship in 2011-12.

Mané also scored five goals at the 2012-13 NextGen Series, helping Sporting finish third in the competition. He has also represented Portugal at all junior levels since the U-15s. He is currently playing with Portugal’s U19 squad.

Mané began playing with Sporting’s reserve squad in the country’s second division last year. But he showed such great promise that manager Leonardo Jardim began to select him for the senior squad this season.

A creative, intelligent player with excellent technical ability, Mané feels most comfortable on the wing but could play centrally as well.

Celtic and Manchester United are said to be monitoring his progress. Although, he is unlikely to leave anytime soon. Sporting Lisbon are not particularly deep on the wings, which could mean that there is room for Mané on the senior squad.

Mané signed an extension with Sporting this summer and is now under contract until 2018. The deal includes a €45 million release clause.

VIDEO: Carlos Mané Scores A Brilliant Golaço Against Marítimo (January 14th)

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Juntas

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Juntas

Sporting Lisbon manager Leonardo Jardim seldom shows much emotion when he speaks but even he could not hold back after his club’s latest victory on Sunday against Olhanense.

The notoriously serious 39-year old manager praised his player’s effort, saying that they deserved to win because they were the best team on the field.

“Sporting proved to be a team that likes to play good football, pressing hard, offensive-oriented and supportive. I believe that this club will continue to grow,“ Jardim added after Sporting’s 2-0 win.

Sporting’s new signing Colombian striker Fredy Montero scored shortly after the second half began. Portuguese midfielder Andre Martins scored a second at the hour mark to give Sporting the victory over the Algarve club.

The victory was the club’s third in four matches to start the season. The only blemish was a 1-1 draw against city-rivals Benfica. Os Leões sit second in the league behind FC Porto, having outscored their opposition 12-2 so far this campaign.

Just 4 competitive matches into his career with one of Portugal’s ‘Big three,’ Jardim already appears to be winning over many of the club’s faithful who have suffered through some terrible seasons.

What a difference a few matches could make. Sporting dominated Olhanense in the first half of Sunday’s match and were unlikely to be leading at the half. In recent seasons, the club would become visibly frustrated when faced with any kind of adversity.

But this year’s Sporting appears to be different.

Breaking With The Past

The club’ improving performances on the field are the result of a dramatic change of attitude at the club that has permeated down to the players. It has surely taken a long time for this to happen.

Current Portugal manager Paulo Bento was the last to achieve any kind of success with the club. Since he was fired in 2009, Sporting have had eight managers. None of which has achieved any consistent results.

Boasting 18 Portuguese League title, along with 15 Portuguese Cup, the club has not won a single trophy since the 2007-08 campaign. At the same time they have been burdened with mounting debt and disciplinary issues.

In 2011, after two poor seasons, its supporters elected Luiz Godinho Lopes as the club’s new president with the promise that he would attract new investment.

Sporting’s Alcochete academy is one of the most exceptional in Europe, having produced two Ballon D’or winners in Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo. The club has historically relied on developing young talent, many of which have gone one to play for Portugal.

Godinho Lopes decided to break with this tradition and purchased expensive foreign imports who, for the most part never managed to improve the club’s performances.

Elias, Danijel Pranjić, Oguchi Onyewu, Gelson Fernandes and others never adapted well to Portuguese football and were loaned out. Others like Stijn Schaars and Khalid Boulahrouz were often injured in their time at Alvalade.

At the same time academy players like Andre Santos, Wilson Eduardo, Adrien Silva and Andre Martins were either benched or loaned to other clubs.

With continuously poor results the club frequently showed signs of having discipline issues. In a January 2012 league cup match against Moreirense F.C, Sporting was given a penalty in the late stages with the score tied.

Bulgarian forward Valeri Bojinov shoved regular penalty taker Matias Fernandez away and took the penalty himself, which he missed. Bojinov never played for the club again and then manager Domingos Paciência was fired soon after.

Paciência’s replacement, Ricardo Sá Pinto was fired after a poor start to the 2012-13 campaign and replaced by Belgian Franky Vercauteren who lasted less than 3 months.

Veteran manager Jesualdo Ferreira was appointed in January 2013 and injected some new players into the club’s formations including central defender Tiago Ilori and über-talented winger Bruma. The club’s performances improved but but not enough to qualify for the Europa League.

A New Hope?

In March, the supporters elected life-long Sportinguista Bruno de Carvalho as the new president. He immediately set out to repair the club’s fledgling reputation. With the club not able to agree on a permanent contract with Jesualdo Ferreira, De Carvalho appointed Leonardo Jardim manager in May.

At the news conference announcing his hiring, Jardim spoke directly to fans and promised that things would be different from now on.

“I want to completely rebuild the club, with the unity and support of all sportinguistas, as well as through hard work. It is in our nature to believe and I know we will give our best to improve. I will not set targets, long or short-term. But we will build on what we have; with enough ambition it is possible to win every match. That is why I am here,” Jardim said.

“I want the unity of everyone at the club, with the objective to return it to its rightful place. In football, it is not only about the manager but also about the strong foundation around them,” he added.

What has emerged is a Sporting Lisbon under an austerity regime that looks re-energized and ambitious for the first time in years.

The club terminated its contracts with Onyewu, Pranjic, Boulahrouz and Bojinov. Schaars moved to PSV, while budding star Bruma demanded a major raise which the club was not able to meet and was sold off to Galatasaray.

The makeup of this year’s Sporting will look very familiar to long suffering fans. 7 of the 11 players in Jardim’s starting XI against Olhanense were academy players.

Wilson Eduardo and William Carvalho have returned from loan spells and have played well for the club. While midfielders Andre Martins and Adrien Silva have received call-ups for the Seleção.

This combined with the addition of Colombian striker Fredy Montero and the resurgence of Peruvian winger Andre Carrillo, Sporting appears destined for a top 3 finish this year.

Speaking to reporters this week, Bruno de Carvalho reaffirmed his belief that the new Sporting has the quality and resolve to win again.

“Leonardo Jardim and I are fulfilling a life-long dream. Our hard work has begun to pay off and with the support of sportinguistas, this could continue for many years. There is a sense with this Sporting squad that when the first negative result arises we could pick ourselves up again.”

181655_fejsa_f

Just days after midfielder Nemanja Matić expressed his willingness to leave Benfica, Os Encarnados announced the signing of fellow Serbian Ljubomir Fejsa from Greek club Olympiacos.

The 25-year-old signs a five-year deal with the Portuguese club and is widely expected to take over Matić’s position in defensive midfield.

Benfica’s newest signing was unveiled to the public on the club’s official television channel on Monday where he talked about how excited he was about joining the club.

“This is a big step in my career. I am very happy. I know that Benfica has fans around the world, it has been European champions twice and has won more than 30 championships. I play football because I want to win titles. I won three titles with Partizan, two with Olympiakos, and I do not see why I cannot do the same here,” he said on Benfica TV.

The Serbian was asked whether he would be happy to share playing time with countrymen Matić in case the former Chelsea player does not leave the club this month. Fejsa responded with: “The best case scenario would be that we could play together, in order to avoid any difficulty.”

Fejsa played with Olympiacos for two seasons after coming over from FK Partizan. Last year at the Greek club he found it difficult to gain playing time under then manager Leonardo Jardim, who is now managing Sporting Lisbon.

After Jardim was fired in February despite the club being in first place, Fejsa saw more action and finished with 15 total appearance in the Greek championship. He has received 13 caps with the Serbian national team.

Marítimo Goalkeeper José Sá Hopes To See Regular Action

Marítimo Goalkeeper José Sá Hopes To See Regular Action

This is the third and final article of a feature series exclusive to Futebol Factory that profiles the most promising Portuguese youngsters. Later this week, this website will be publishing an overview of all 21 players named in our series.

Here now are the last seven Portuguese young players that could have break out seasons this year.

José Sá, Maritimo, Goalkeeper

The 20-year old made a big name for him self this summer at the U20 World Cup. He certainly raised his profile in Maritimo’s opening match this season against Benfica, back stopping the Madeira-based club to a 2-1 win. The former Benfica youth player looks to have a bright future ahead of him.

With Maritimo’s former number one goalkeeper Romain Salin departing to Rio Ave, manager Pedro Martins has no proven goalkeeper. This could be his year to establish himself as a starting goalkeeper and perhaps an option for the Seleção.

Nuno Reis, Sporting Lisbon, Centre Back

A promising player whose future looks uncertain at the moment. Reis formed an excellent partnership at the centre of defence with Rio Ave’s Roderick Miranda at the 2011 U20 World Cup where Portugal finished second. He played with Olhanense last season.

The 22-year old does not appear to be part of Sporting manager Leonardo Jardim’s immediate plans. Currently playing with Sporting B squad in the second division, a loan deal seems likely.

Ricardo Ferreira, Olhanense, Centre Back

Born to Portuguese parents in Canada, Ricardo Ferreira is a former FC Porto youth player. In 2011, he was signed by Serie A giants AC Milan but never played a professional match for them. Last year, he was loaned to Serie B squad Empoli where he found playing time difficult to come by.

Ferreira was released this past summer by the Italian club and signed with Olhanense. He should find more playing time with Abel Xavier club, but unless the former Portuguese international proves to be a better manager than most people expect, the Algarve-club should be battling hard to stay in the top division.

Diogo Figueiras, Sevilla, Right-Back

The 22-year old was signed by La Liga club Sevilla this summer after an impressive season at Paços Ferreira. The club’s sporting director Monchi has praised his speed and technical ability, although it looks like he will have to play second-fiddle to Coke for now.

Figueiras lists former Sevilla right-back Dani Alves as a personal role model. He told journalists at his official unveiling in July, “Daniel Alves (Now with FC Barcelona) is an inspiration to me because he is the best full-back in the world. I am an ambitious player and I hope that I could one day reach his level. I am an offensive-minded full-back.”

Flávio Ferreira, Malaga, Centre Back/Defensive Midfielder

Signed by Malaga in the summer from Académica, where he primarily played at centre back last season. The 21-year old could also pay in defensive midfield. As of late August, Ferreira was battling a back injury that was to be evaluated from week to week.

With Malaga losing several quality players and their manager this summer, Ferreira could be given an opportunity to shine this year at the Estadio La Rosaleda. He should feel very welcome in Andalusia this season with Portuguese players Duda, Eliseu and Vitorino Antunes on the squad.

Ricardo Alves, Belenenses, Midfielder

Newly-promoted clubs are always likely to have exciting young talented. 20-year old Ricardo Alves played himself into Belenenses’ starting XI last season when promotion was all but assured. His performances were enough to earn him a spot of Portugal’s U20 World Cup squad where he played three matches.

This season in the top division, the suburban Lisbon club are still without a proven goal scorer and will likely rely on its creativity in midfield to win matches. Alves will be counted on to produce this season.

Tiago Silva, Belenenses, Midfielder

Another promising midfielder at Belenenses. Silva played regularly last season in the second division, scoring four goals in 31 matches for the club. Silva, along with Ricardo Alves could provide the basis for a strong Belenenses midfield this year.

The 20-year old is more attack-minded than Alves and will need to be good this season if Mitchell van der Gaag’s club is to prevent relegation. They got off to a poor start in match day one with a 3-0 defeat at home to Rio Ave.

Related posts

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 1

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 2

PORTUGAL: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

Anthony Lopes Has Shown Some Great Promise With Lyon This Pre-Season

Anthony Lopes Has Shown Some Great Promise With Lyon This Pre-Season

Futebol Factory is profiling some of Portugal’s most promising young talent in three feature articles ahead of the new football season.

Anthony Lopes, Olympique Lyonnais, Goalkeeper

A quality goalkeeper that has played for Portugal at the U21 level. French-born Lopes played the last 5 Ligue 1 matches last season for the French club and has already figured prominently in Europa League qualifying matches so far this month. He also impressed in Lyon’s 4-0 defeat of Nice in the first match of the Ligue 1 season.

The French-club is currently without a proven stopper and could be tempted to go with Lopes. They have also shown some great faith in him by signing Lopes to a contract extension that will see him stay with the club until 2016. Rui Patrício is the uncontested Portuguese number one but it never hurts to have a quality alternative.

Miguel Vitor, PAOK, Centre Back

Unceremoniously released by Benfica this off season, the central defender was quickly signed by Greek giants PAOK. Vitor has played alongside former Benfica player Kostas Katsouranis in PAOK’s Europa League qualifying matches against Metalist Kharkiv.

A very prominant figure with Portugal’s U21 squads, the 24-year old is expected to finally get his chance to play everyday in Greece. A chance he was never really given in Portugal. He joins a club that has been good to Portuguese talent in the past, including Sérgio Conceição and Vieirinha.

Ricardo Esgaio, Sporting Lisbon, Winger/Right-Back

An exciting player who is a big part of Sporting’s amazing pool of young talent. The 20-year old recently signed a long-term extension with the club that will see him under contract until 2018. He also played in the U20 World Cup.

Supremely talented and versatile, Esgaio scored 17 goals in 27 matches for Sporting B squad in the second division last year. However, this might not yet be the year that Esgaio makes the big leap to the senior side. Sporting has depth on the wings, and Leonardo Jardim might decide that it is better for him to continue to develop in the second division or possibly on loan.

Sérgio Oliveira, FC Porto (On Loan at Paços de Ferreira), Midfielder

Sérgio Oliveira has been in the spotlight since he was the youngest player ever to play for FC Porto’s senior side at the age of 17. He has found opportunities at the Cidade Invicta very limited since then, being loaned out to several clubs in recent years.

He played last season with Porto’s B squad in the second division, scoring 5 goals in 29 matches. Still only 21 years of age, Oliveira should receive playing time at Paços de Ferreira. A natural central midfielder, Oliveira is a free-kick specialist.

João Mário, Sporting Lisbon, Midfielder

Recently signed to a long-term extension, João Mário is one of the most talked about young players in Portugal today. The central midfielder captained Portugal’s U20 squad at this summer’s World Cup. For many it has always been a matter of when, not if.

Sporting’s new manager Leonardo Jardim has shown a willingness to ‘test’ young players in the past with Braga. However, João Mário might find it hard to play regularly this season because of the club’s investments in Adrien Silva, Andre Martins, Andre Santos and Zakaria Labyad.

Filipe Chaby, Sporting Lisbon, Attacking Midfielder

Another supremely promising midfielder from Sporting’s famed academy. The 19-year old missed most of last season with a serious knee injury however, he has played very well this summer in exhibition matches for the senior squad.

Recently signed to a long-term extension, Chaby will be hard-pressed to earn a position on Leonardo Jardim’s starting XI given the club’s depth in young midfielders. However, Chaby is certainly a player to watch going forward.

Aladje, Sassuolo, Striker

Born in Guinea-Bissau and currently playing in Italy, Aladje has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last two months. A surprise addition to Portugal’s squad for the U20 Toulon Tournament, Aladje wrestled the starting striker position away from Betinho. He would score 3 goals in 4 matches at the U20 World Cup and was even profiled in an article on the FIFA website.

Until now he has only played football in Italy’s lower division but this appears likely to change after he moved to Serie B graduates Sassuolo this summer. Aladje is part of a promising generation of young Portuguese strikers that could finally deliver the country a major trophy.

Related Posts:

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 1

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 3

PORTUGAL: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

FUTEBOL -  Leonardo Jardim apresentado como o novo treinador do Sport

Former Beira-Mar and Sporting Braga manager Leonardo Jardim was officially unveiled as the new manager of Sporting Lisbon on Monday. The 38-year-old replaces Jesualdo Ferreira who took over the club in late December 2012.

“I come to stabilize Sporting with the objective to win. Throughout my career I have consistently won matches and it is this objective that I will bring here. It will not be easy. Sporting is coming off their worst campaign in history and I want to change that by restructuring the club, with hard work and with the unity of all Sportinguistas,” Jardim told journalists at a press conference on Monday.

Club president Bruno de Carvalho told media that Jardim was an easy choice for Sporting manager and added that he fits in well with the club’s philosophy.

“It was a personal choice, as well as one for the club. I am not always easy to work with, but we understand one another very well and for that I want to say that in terms of ideology, projections, will, reach and ambition, there are many things that connect the two of us,” Carvalho said.

Jardim first came to prominence with Beira-Mar when he lead the Aveiro-based club to promotion to the first division of Portuguese football in 2010. A streak of bad results lead to his firing the next season but he was soon hired by Sporting Braga.

Jardim lead Sporting Braga to one of their best campaigns in their history in 2011-12, finishing third behind FC Porto and Benfica. But Jardim left before the start of this season due to his tense relationship with the club’s president António Salvador.

The young manager quickly joined Greek giants Olympiacos where he put up an impressive record. However this January, he was again let go despite the club being undefeated and leading the Greek League by 10 points.

Many Sportinguistas will lament the departure of veteran manager Jesualdo Ferreira who was the only manager since Paulo Bento left in 2009 to produce some positive results. He made the announcement that he would not return at a post-match news conference after the club’s 4-1 defeat of Beira-Mar.

“We never talked about money. This was not motivated by financial issues. I came to this decision with great sadness, it was one of the most difficult moments in my career but it was also a moment of honesty. I could not be the manager for next year if I did not feel that the conditions were not right,” Ferreira told Journalists.

Ferreira was the third manager of Sporting Lisbon this season and replaced Franky Vercauteren in late December. His decision to play young players like Tiago Ilori, Bruma, Andre Martins and Englishman Eric Dier lead to a noticeable improvement in the club’s performance.

Jardim and club president Bruno de Carvalho will no doubt have their work cut out for them turning around the fortunes of a club that has greatly underachieved in the last several years and is burdened by debt. Estimates vary but it is believed to be at least €220 million.

Carvalho will no doubt have to decide on the future of several underperforming players who were brought in under his predecessor Godinho Lopes. They include Khalid Boulahrouz, Stijn Schaars, Evaldo, Elias, Oguchi Onyewu, Danijel Pranjić, Valeri Bojinov and Gelson Fernandes.

Also with Dutch striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s departure to Norwich, Sporting need to find a replacement. They have been linked with Lazio’s Libor Kozák in recent weeks.

The good news is that Sporting have many assets under contract. Their youth development system rivals the best in European football. Forward Wilson Eduardo and defender Nuno Reis spent this year on loan and played well. Will they get their chance to play at Alvalade regularly next season.

In addition, the club has many quality players that other clubs want. Tiago Ilori has been linked to Premier League giants Liverpool. Winger Bruma has been linked with just about every major club in Europe. Cedric Soares is likely to leave for England or Germany this summer.

Goalkeeper Rui Patricio has been strongly linked to Arsenal as well. Plus there is also Andre Carrillo, Zakaria Labyad, Marcos Rojo who Carvalho might choose to cash in on this summer. Many promising young players like Ricardo Esgaio, João Mário, Betinho, Zézinho and Gaël Etock are looking to take their places.

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With much of the futebol news in Portugal focusing on the top two teams Porto and Benfica fighting it out for domestic silverware or the ongoing soap opera at Sporting Lisbon, Sporting Braga has quietly become a model of quality in the game.

In the last decade, its rise has been very gradual and consistent. Currently in third place this season, Braga has only finished lower than 5th once. In that time they have played in the Champions League twice, the Europa/UEFA League eight times.

Their UEFA ranking has climbed from 139th in 2004-05 to as high as 28th. Few teams can claim such a dramatic improvement. In addition, they have developed an excellent reputation for discovering talent.

Brazilians Lima and Artur made their names at Braga and moved on to Benfica. They also discovered the terrific striker Éder who seems poised to become a star on the international scene.

Even more remarkable, Braga has renewed the careers of many players once written off by many people, such as Hugo Viana, Ruben Micael, Quim and Pedro Barbosa.

Managers from Sporting Lisbon’s Jesualdo Ferreira to Benfica’s Jorge Jesus found success with the club and moved on to bigger stages. While young managers like Deportivo’s Domingos Paciência, Leonardo Jardim and now José Peseiro have continued Os Arsenalistas winning tradition.

In this year’s January transfer window, they continued to be busy and like always very understated. This week, they signed promising Russian goalkeeper Stanislav Kritsyuk to replace Portuguese international Beto who left on loan to Seville.

On attack, Braga signed Portuguese striker Rabiola from second division Desportivo das Aves. The 23-year-old has scored 20 goals in total for the club this year in all competitions. The deal lasts until 2017. Not to mention, Portuguese forward João Pedro who has shown great form with Naval 1º de Maio this year.

Braga also signed French defender Vincent Sasso from Beira-Mar to a permanent deal that will last until 2017. Sasso has played for France at the junior level.