Nunes, Núñez, Diaz, Bruno, Dias: Why do Premier League clubs love to shop in Portugal?
LEICESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 30: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez of Liverpool with the FA Community Shield trophy at the end of the FA Community Shield match between Manchester City and Liverpool at The King Power Stadium on July 30, 2022 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool are reportedly readying a bid for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Matheus Nunes to solve their midfield woes. 
 

Thiago Alcantara has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury.

That means he will likely miss Premier League fixtures against Crystal Palace, Manchester United, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Everton, Wolves and Chelsea. 

He would also miss two Champions League Group Stage fixtures. 

If the Reds can agree a deal for Nunes, it would certainly soften the blow of losing the influential Spaniard. 

With a influx of big-money signings from the Portuguese top-flight in the last few years, VAVEL decided to take a look at the reasons behind it. 
 

  • Instant impacts 

The most recent acquisition from Liga Primiera, Liverpool striker Darwin Núñez has been praised for his instant impact. 
 

A goal on his competitive debut against Manchester City in the Community Shield was followed by a goal and an assist in his league debut against Fulham. 

Even more impressive, is the fact that these contributions came within just 70 minutes. 
 

Another Liverpool addition from Portugal that has hit the ground running is Luis Diaz.

The January arrival scored six and assisted five in 26 games for the Reds last season.

However, it was not just his contributions that had fans excited.

His dribbling, trickery and the intensity that he brings had fans salivating over the Colombian.

He will be even more threatening this season as he was not given detailed tactical instructions by Jurgen Klopp, who decided to let him play on instinct. 

However, it is not just last season’s FA Cup and Carabao Cup winners who have splashed the cash on Liga Portugal’s stars recently.

Bruno Fernandes was phenomenal when he signed for Manchester United, with 20 goal contributions in his first 22 games. 

And after losing out on the 2019/20 Premier League title to Liverpool due to an injury to Aymeric Laporte, Manchester City parted with £65 million to bring in Ruben Dias. 

The 25-year-old is now regarded as one of the best centre backs in world football. 
 

He was an instrumental figure as the Citizen’s regained their crown in the  2020/21 season, winning the Premier League Player of the Season award. 

 

Wolves have developed a reputation for signing Portuguese nationals and players plying their trade in the domestic competition. 

This is primarily due to owners Fosun International's association with super agent Jorge Mendes. 

They have been jokingly labelled as 'Portugal B' by some rival fans, however it is a relationship that works. 

Raul Jimenez and Jose Sá were both instant hits with the fans and on the pitch. 

 

Before them came the likes of Helder Costa, Diogo Jota, Ruben Neves, Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho. 

With consecutive seventh placed finishes in 2018/19 and 2019/20, then a 10th place finish in 2021/22, it is a strategy that is paying off.

Arsenal have also joined in on the party, signing highly-regarded midfielder Fabio Vieira.

They will be hoping that he can emulate his namesake, club legend and Crystal Palace manager, Patrick Vieira.

The speed at which players from the league seem to adapt to English football is definitely a factor in the influx of talent flooding the top-flight from the nation that won Euro 2016. 

  • The Portuguese connection 

When it comes to Liverpool, there is no surprise they are beginning to shop in Portugal.

Assistant manager Pepjin Lijnders and elite development coach Vitor Matos joined the club from FC Porto. 

And Julian Ward, who took over from the acclaimed Michael Edwards as sporting director was previously head of analysis and technical scouting at the Portuguese Football Federation.

Bruno Fernandes also revealed a familiar influence when signing for the Red Devil’s, he told the club website:

“My love of Manchester United really started when I used to watch Cristiano Ronaldo”

 He was the fourth player that United have signed from Sporting, after Marcos Rojo, Nani and Ronaldo. 
 

The club’s Portuguese links do not end there, Carlos Queiroz was Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant manager in two separate spells. 

Queiroz won three Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League as Ferguson’s number two. 
 

Their city rivals also have Portuguese connections.

Bernardo Silva was signed from AS Monaco after he impressed in their Champions League run in 2016/17 when they knocked Pep Guardiola’s side out in the Round of 16. 

Joao Cancelo and Ederson Moraes also came through Benfica’s youth ranks, increasing the Portuguese contingent in the squad.

 

In fact, the Sky Blues’ connection with the Iberian nation are rumoured to stretch all the way back to the 1920s.

Carlos Silva is reported to have raised £5,000 for the club in 1926 and suggested the blue and white of the Portuguese monarchy flag  be used as the club’s colours. 

  • Investment in youth and coaching 

The nation has produced one of the greatest managers in the history of the beautiful game. 

José Mourinho first took the footballing world by storm in 2004, when he won the Champions League with FC Porto, he would then stun English football. 

The 'Special One' as he declared himself in his first press conference as Chelsea manager, won the club their first league title in 50 years, only conceding 15 goals (the fewest in Premier League history).

He then secured a second consecutive title, before leaving in 2007 after a falling out with Roman Abramovich. 

He would return to the club in 2013, winning another league title in the 2014/15 season before spells at Manchester United and Tottenham. 

Jorge Jesus, Sérgio Conceição, Rúben Amorim, Leonardo Jardim, André Villas-Boas, Bruno Lage, Nuno Espírito Santo and Paulo Fonseca are just some examples of other well-established coaches from Portugal.

When it comes to the players that the nation produces, Benfica under-19s coach Luis Araújo told The Guardian’s Andy Brassell

 “We always had talented players, but we increased the players’ understanding of the game.“ 

“The best championship that I win is when I see one of these players play in the national team, the Benfica first team and now international clubs,” he added. 

These are our real trophies – that our players succeed at professional level like Rúben [Dias], João Félix, Bernardo [Silva]. We see them playing at that level and that’s our trophy.”

José Mourinho and Ronaldo said to us ‘it’s possible’. If they can, we can too.“

Investment in coaching and youth has certainly played a part in the arrival of some of the league’s most talented players into the English game. 

 

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