Top five best Portuguese signings of the season
Several Portuguese players were on the move over the last year - and here’s a look at the 5 best Portuguese signings of them all.
Before we get into the selected top 5, let’s take a look at some of the honourable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut.
Just missing out on the list is Wolves shot-stopper Rui Patricio. You could say he probably comes in at number 6, just behind the top 5 players selected. A very strong season from the shot stopper, who has only really come under criticism for his distribution with Wolves. However, having seen his impeccable long-range passing for Portugal at the Nations League, you see that perhaps that issue is more to do with Wolves’ system making the life more challenging for the goalkeeper, because no doubt his passing is actually much better than we’ve seen for the English club so far.
In any case, he has been a big performer for Wolves; playing in 37 of their league matches this season, he pulled off several top-quality saves that earned Wolves a good handful of points throughout the campaign. An excellent display against Manchester City early in the season, including a phenomenal save against Raheem Sterling, earned his side an impressive point, while his tremendous save from Paul Pogba’s free-kick is also etched in the minds of Wolves fans. That’s not to mention his long-distance saves against both Arsenal and Spurs, or his excellent stop against West Ham to scoop out a chipped Michail Antonio header to the back post. And who could forget his double save against Crystal Palace? So many great moments to look back on for Patricio.
Also on the very edge of making the top 5 is William Carvalho. He didn’t actually have the best of seasons with Real Betis by his very high standards; far from bad by any means, but when we’re used to seeing him perform at such a top level for the national team, we’ve come to expect even more from William.
The Andalusian side haven’t seemed to use him as effectively as Portugal have, and their league position come the end of the season could serve as testament to that. But he’s a phenomenal midfielder and, under the right manager and in the right system, he would prove an outstanding player for a side like Betis.
William was always expected to leave Sporting and Portugal at some point in his career, but he was always expected to go to one of the giants of European football - be it a side at the top end of Spanish, Italian or English football. Betis pulled off quite the coup in bringing in the 27-year old midfielder, and he should prove an excellent signing in the coming years, should he stick around.
Now, onto the top 5:
5. Bruno Alves (Parma)
Bruno Alves, aged 37, is our pick for signing number 5. Fans outside of Italian football may not have been watching his season very closely, but his impact on the Italian side has been quite impressive.
Being brought in on a free transfer from Rangers, Alves immediately became the club captain, showing that he not only brought footballing ability to the pitch, but also incredible leadership.
With his experience, he provided a calm and inspiring voice in the locker room, and served as a natural leader. To bring someone like him in for free is quite exceptional.
And it's not just off the field where he's had a big impact. Playing 33 of his side's 38 Serie A matches during the campaign - while being in his late 30s - is quite extraordinary, and he demonstrated that he's still got a lot to offer in the game, his performances generally of a very high standard. His physical presence, his concentration levels, his positional awareness - all of that made him a tough obstacle for many attacks.
With 4 goals - including an exquisite long-range free-kick - to his name this season, he's also come up big at the other end of the pitch too.
Do you need any further indication of the quality season Bruno Alves had this season than the fact that Juventus tried to sign him in January? Juventus. Bruno Alves. Aged 37. What a signing for Parma.
4. Ricardo Pereira (Leicester City)
How can Ricardo Pereira only be number 4, I can hear many say. And it's a justifiable question.
Ricardo Pereira had a season to remember for Leicester City - to the surprise of absolutely no-one who watched him in the Portuguese Primeira Liga last season.
There was disappointment amongst Porto fans when he was sold - justifiably too. After playing in 35 of Leicester's 38 league games, Ricardo was used both at right back and right midfield at different points in the season, and showed both his defensive ability and attacking prowess, proving his aptitude at both ends of the pitch, earning him the title of Leicester City player of the year!
An incredible achievement for the 25-year old considering this was his first season in the Premier League - amazing to think he only cost £20million.
No wonder he's now being linked with a prestigious move to PSG.
3. Jose Fonte (Lille)
Wow. Who saw this coming? Having returned to European football after a brief spell in China, you'd have been forgiven for thinking that Jose Fonte's footballing career was winding to a close and he'd played his last ever game for the Portugal national team.
The fact that the club he joined upon his return to Europe was a French outfit that finished just one point and one place above the relegation zone last season probably didn't change that opinion all that much. But the season that he and Lille have had is difficult to truly believe.
Becoming captain of the team part way through the season because of his excellent leadership on and off the field, Fonte was instrumental in his side obtaining 2nd place in the league, organising a strong defence and playing in all but two Ligue 1 matches all campaign.
In total, he helped Lille keep 15 clean sheets in the league alone, an extraordinary return when you think of the fact that they were on the brink of relegation last season.
With their exquisite campaign, where they were only beaten in the table by PSG, Fonte, at the age of 35, is set to play in the Champions League for the first time in his career next season. A brilliant story, fairy-tale stuff.
The fact that he's just played a huge role in Portugal winning the inaugural UEFA Nations League, called upon part way through the semifinal and required for the entirety of the final versus The Netherlands due to the injury to Pepe, makes his season even more impressive. Portugal didn't conceded a single goal while he was on the field. Monster.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Wow. Just like with Jose Fonte, who saw this one coming? Cast your mind back to the summer of 2018. Ronaldo and his Real Madrid side had just won their third Champions League title in a row. It was at that point that Ronaldo then revealed that he wanted to embark on a new challenge - to the surprise and scepticism of many.
A chance to force Real Madrid to give him a more lucrative contract? An opportunity to take the limelight? Few believed Ronaldo was actually going to leave, expecting the then-32 year old to eventually end his career at Real Madrid - and yet that wasn’t case.
Wind forward through the summer, and £105million later, Cristiano Ronaldo was a Juventus player. Audacious, astonishing, the end of Real Madrid’s dominance in Europe.
You don’t need to look beyond Real Madrid’s struggles this season to see how important Ronaldo was for them - a Champions League round of 16 exit and 3 managers later, Madrid looked the shadow of the side they once were, finishing 3rd in the league and well off the pace of Barcelona. And that further cements how incredible a signing Ronaldo was for the Italian side.
It was a gamble. over £100million for a man that had, before he’d even completed his move to the club, turned 33. For anyone else, that would have looked like a ridiculous move for Juventus and a splendid bit of business for Real Madrid. But Ronaldo isn’t just anyone.
Sure, this season wasn’t the success they were looking for as a team. Failing to get past the Champions League quarter final, Ronaldo did his part, scoring a hattrick in the round of 16 to drag Juventus to the last 8 of Europe’s most illustrious competition, but the team were hapless against an impressive Ajax side.
Juventus did, at least, win Serie A, Ronaldo again instrumental, scoring 21 and assisting 11 in 31 league appearances, showing his versatility as we was used both up front and on the left wing.
While this season was below what many fans had hoped, it was a solid start to a new adventure for Cristiano - and you just know he has at least 3 years at the very top of the game to help Juventus further. For that, he is a superb signing for Juventus, even if he did come with a very hefty fee. And, ultimately, if he does deliver the Champions League for Juventus, he’ll have been a major success.
1. Joao Moutinho (Wolves)
It seems foolish to put any player above Cristiano Ronaldo, but we can’t get over the fact that the midfield maestro only cost Wolverhampton Wanderers a measly £5million.
The third most capped Portuguese player in history is a national legend, and his move to Wolves was in itself greeted with some surprise, but the low fee was what really shocked the country - and for the sheer value for money, he has to be considered the greatest signing of them all from this year - perhaps from the past several years.
To give some context, Nainggolan, aged 30 at the time, cost Inter Milan what is estimated to be in the region of £35million; Arturo Vidal, 31, cost Barcelona approximately £16million last summer; Paulinho, aged 29, cost Barcelona £35million in the summer of 2017. A 31-year old Moutinho? £5million.
Moutinho ultimately played in at least part of all of Wolves’ 38 Premier League matches last campaign, starting 35 of them. An instrumental member of Wolves midfield, the club’s faithful immediately took to the now-32-year old, and it seems fair to say that they are still in awe of the fact that Moutinho represents their club.
The double European champion for Portugal, one of only 9 Portuguese players that can claim that honour, is our Portuguese signing of the year.