Jury out on Benfica's David Luiz deal, but Porto look like window winners
The Portugeezer is in agreement with Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger when it comes to the January transfer window. Prices are inflated and most good players are cup-tied for European competition, which is why one should only use it in two situations: 1) To sign a replacement for a player with a long-term injury or 2) To bring in a player who can give a boost to the second half of an ailing season.
That, of course, doesnÃ¢ÂÂt deter teams from preparing audacious bids for players they deem necessary. In recent years Portugal has been one of the finest exporters of talent to EuropeÃ¢ÂÂs other leagues, and January will likely see Benfica centre-back David Luiz move to Stamford Bridge in what will be one of the biggest deals in Europe this winter.
According to the latest reports, Chelsea will pay Ã¢ÂÂ¬25 million plus deadweight, errÃ¢ÂÂ¦a player they couldnÃ¢ÂÂt care any less about. Portuguese media speculated it could be Fulham-bound Gael Kakuta, but 22-year old Nemanja Matic will be the most likely option. Of course, not all details are set in stone so weÃ¢ÂÂll have to wait and see if the Eagles can milk some extra money out of RomanÃ¢ÂÂs deep pockets.
Is it a good deal? Yes and no. Currently, the Portugeezer wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt advise paying Ã¢ÂÂ¬25 million for Luiz. HeÃ¢ÂÂs has shown signs of sloppiness this term and has been far from last seasonÃ¢ÂÂs scintillating form. His mind seems to be away from the club and therefore now is a good time to part ways as Benfica hold a comfortable advantage over third-placed Sporting.
Nevertheless, if the rumoured Ã¢ÂÂ¬37M bid from Manchester City had just a pinch of truth in it, then having to surrender to this lower bid would be something of a kick in the teeth.
Pedro Caixinha and Leonardo Jardim would agree that performing above the expectations can sometimes lead to unwanted attention. Sixth placed UniÃÂ£o de Leiria lost instrumental duo Silas and CarlÃÂ£o to AEL Limassol and Kashima Antlers, respectively, while Beira-Mar saw centre-back Kanu move to Standard LiÃÂ©ge.
Fortunately for both clubs, itÃ¢ÂÂs not all doom and gloom as theyÃ¢ÂÂve taken this opportunity to balance the books without having to worry too much about their already comfortable position in the league table.
Braga also suffered for the attention a good Champions League run can bring, as star performers MoisÃÂ©s and Matheus left the club for relative peanuts. Having already decided to trim the fat and plan for the next season, will the culling have an adverse affect on performances on the field?
So who will get a January boost and who will find the going even tougher?
Leapfrogging a team that has only lost one time this season is a difficult task for anyone. However, if you sell one of your best players that job will instantly become even harder. And in that regard, Porto have gained another edge over Benfica as their proven-reliable team will essentially remain the same.
The Dragons are one of the toughest negotiators worldwide which will scare away some of the potential suitors and the players seem more than happy to stick around and see how many pieces of silverware they can win this season.
MarÃÂtimo did a very shrewd piece of business by bringing back to Portugal Tunisian international Selim Benachour. He enjoyed a wonderful season at GuimarÃÂ£es and can only help the Islanders have a stronger remainder of the season.
Yes, Benfica had already signed a replacement for David Luiz in Jardel Vieira, the former Olhanense centre-back, but heÃ¢ÂÂs not ready for Ã¢ÂÂprimetimeÃ¢ÂÂ. HeÃ¢ÂÂll be one for next season and for now Benfica have no choice but to hand LuisÃÂ£o and Sidnei extra responsibility. Can they still claim to be genuine contenders? It is getting harder to see them overhauling Porto with each dayÃ¢ÂÂ¦
With their squad overhaul, one cannot expect Braga to perform at the same level displayed over the past 18 months. Left-back Marco Ramos and winger Ukra have joined the club - the latter on loan, but it seems thereÃ¢ÂÂs still missing pieces in their jigsaw.
At the moment, they are in a tight race with Sporting, GuimarÃÂ£es, Nacional, Leiria and eventually Beira-Mar for the four coveted Europa League spots, and missing out on a European berth is not an option for them.
What to expect till the next week when the window closes? Braga to beef up their squad with one or two more players, Porto may get an agreement for SÃÂlvio and GuimarÃÂ£es sign yet another random Brazilian.