To say that Portuguese football has any influence in world football might sound paradoxical considering how their league has fared so far. No doubt, the Primeira Liga doesn’t generate much momentum like the leagues in the “Big Five”. With only three teams contesting for the title every season, we could say the league is not anywhere close to being “hot”. The clubs are obviously not the richest in Europe. So, how is Portugal really affecting football across the globe?
Lucrative transfer deals
The Liga NOS may not be the wealthiest in Europe, but they obviously have the most profitable transfer deals every season. In the last four transfer windows, the league has consistently recorded the most lucrative deals in Europe. This summer alone, they were able to secure a whopping sum of 235 million euros in profit from the transfer market. This was realised after the clubs collectively spent 65 million euros and earned as high as 300 million euros from different deals. With such a lucrative transfer market, there is no doubt the league is a gold mine.
The idea of buying players for a low price and selling them for a huge amount was initiated by Porto. The club’s president, Pinto da Costa would set out to buy talented youngsters from lower leagues where the “big clubs” would not normally look. After buying these players for a low fee, the club would train and develop them until they caught the fancy of the bigger clubs. Then he would go on to sell them for a price that is five or six times more than their initial value. For instance, Porto recently made a total of 208 million euros from selling six players whose they bought for a combined fee of 36 million euros. This strategy was later replicated by other clubs in the Portuguese league and soon the transfer market had become a highly rewarding business.
Apart from the flourishing trading strategy adopted by the clubs in the Liga NOS, most of their superstars emerge from the youth academies. For instance, world-class players like Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, João Moutinho and a host of others are all products of the Sporting youth academy. Interesting, the same academy has produced two FIFA World Players of the Year- a feat no other club academy can boast about.
Perfect ground for breeding youngsters
When it comes to managing and developing youngsters who aren’t yet prepared to play in the leagues of the “Big Five”, there is no better than the Liga NOS.
Most of the big clubs in Europe often prefer going for superstars who can immediately take up important roles in their teams without investing so much time in developing them. Most of these players rarely come from leagues in South America, Asia or Africa. Rather, many of them are likely to be found already playing in decent European leagues. And there is no doubt; the Liga NOS is one of such leagues.
Players who are lucky enough to play for any one of the top clubs (Benfica, Porto or Porto) also have the opportunity of playing in the biggest UEFA competitions.
But even more to the essentiality of Portugal in world football is the class of managers the country has produced in the last couple of years.
The special one, José Mourinho, who is arguably the best in the world right now with 25 trophies to his credit, is from Portugal. One time Porto and Tottenham Manager, André Villa-Boas also came out from Portugal, as well as Leonardo Jardim who has recorded great achievements in the French League with Monaco. And of course, let’s not forget Fernando Santos who has been impressed with the national team.
World class football agents
Apart from having the most lucrative transfer markets in the world, Portugal also boasts of producing some of the best football agents around today. A good example is Jorge Mendes.
Right now, Mendes is undoubtedly the best football agent and obviously the richest on the planet. He is behind most of the monumental transfer deals that have taken place between top European clubs and the Portuguese league. A good example is the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo from Sporting. In 2014 alone, he was responsible for four of the biggest seven signings. Among his clients are renowned superstars like Diego Costa, James Rodriguez, Renato Sanches, Angel Di Maria, and of course, the world best, Cristiano Ronaldo. Even the current Manchester United Manager, Jose Mourinho also belongs to the list.
We can’t close this subject without talking about the individual achievements of the Três Grandes. In Europe, Porto is currently 10th on the list of the most successful clubs. Likewise, Benfica presently ranks 6th on the list of clubs who have made the most appearance in the finals of the UEFA Champions League. And let’s not forget the current Ballon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the award four times now.
Take away Portugal and there won’t be a Ronaldo to rival with Lionel Messi. Take away Portugal and you can forget any Special One. Take away Portugal and there would be no super agents like Jorge Mendes. So, you see, Portugal is and will definitely remain important in football worldwide.