Liverpool have committed up to £ 148m in transfers since the start of 2022, of which £ 134m will go to Portuguese players.
Luis Diaz’s arrival in January for a figure that could go up to £ 49m came ahead of schedule, with Tottenham Hotspur interest lagging behind in the same window prompting Reds Fenway Sports Group owners to allow the loosening of the purse strings to acquire the Colombian six months early from Porto.
Diaz not only hit the ground running at Anfield, but went there at the speed of an Olympic 100m final, settling into Premier League life as if it were the easiest thing in the world, with any hints on him that he needed. of time to pass from the Portuguese La Primeira Liga was promptly sent off. His arrival was the shot in the arm Liverpool needed at the time and sparked renewed optimism as the season headed towards the final straight, his signing sparked excitement for what would come further for the 25 years old.
Earlier this month the Reds returned to Portugal’s top flight with the portfolio once again open, this time to land Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez, 22, from Benfica for a figure that could rise to as much as 85 million. pounds. Their return to the Portuguese market was not something random, more a return to a place where FSG and Liverpool feel they can get value for money, one where they feel more encouraged to spend and don’t require another. European club to act as an intermediary to show them that they can hack it in the elite European leagues.
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Liverpool’s Portuguese roots were well established prior to Diaz’s signing, with Reds sporting director Julian Ward fluent in Portuguese and had spent time as head of analysis and technical scouting for the Portuguese Football Association from 2008 to 2010. Add to that Liverpool who are now Jurgen Klopp’s assistant, Pep Lijnders, from Porto in 2014, with his Porto replacement Vito Matos, also heading to Liverpool in 2019 as elite development manager.
Liverpool already have a vision of Portuguese football in the building, but that’s not just what makes their recent spate of activity in the Portuguese market understandable.
In European football there is an established hierarchy when it comes to the size of leagues; Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, after these five comes the Portuguese Primeira Liga. But signing players from the top five leagues means clubs pay a premium in terms of both transfer fees and salary, something that gets more expensive with every big league club they sign on, so why buy directly from another club in the league. Premier League can be so prohibitive and considered. hard to find value for money, with Jack Grealish’s £ 100m transfer to Manchester City from Aston Villa last summer, one example. Grealish, according to information on the market value of Football Benchmark analysts, would be worth around 40 million pounds less than the current market based on last season’s form and profile.
Value for money is something FSG has been looking for a long time during his tenure at Liverpool, and is one of the reasons why the Reds have focused their energies on the Portuguese market in recent times.
If you think about how many times Porto and Benfica have made it to the quarter-finals or round of 16 in recent years, let’s say they have made it to the round of 16, of those eight clubs left in the Champions League you will get the cheapest players from them “, reporter And Aaron Barton, Portuguese football expertwhich manages the Next Day football website, he told ECHO.
“Players of that caliber who still compete at the same level as those other clubs, but will usually come at a much lower price. The Portuguese league was seen as a kind of stepping stone and for someone like the FSG who didn’t. is.t fixed on buying the finished item, they go in first.
“What historically happened with the likes of James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho was that they moved from anywhere, a Portuguese academy or South America, settled in the first team and then moved on to someone like Monaco, someone who wasn’t in the same caliber as those like Liverpool, etc. Now that has changed, the clubs are buying directly from Portugal and are jumping that springboard.
“You can get more money for your money. The one exception is really Benfica who have a reputation for getting what the players are looking for, sometimes more, with Darwin Nunez an example of this. They got € 125 million. for Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid, they got what could be 100 million euros for Darwin. Porto on the other hand is widely criticized in Portugal and not only for never having obtained the best deal, especially recently with Luis Diaz, they did not they are close to what they were worth Vitinha is Reportedly going to Paris Saint-Germain for 40 million euros is worth a lot more, Fabio Vieira at Arsenal is another.
“Liverpool are a smart club and will be looking to Portugal to see what kind of gems they can unearth and not to be missed. They have a strong Portuguese influence in the club and Pep Lijnders, much of his upbringing came to Porto When Lijnders became Klopp’s right-hand man and Liverpool needed to fill his old role, they went back to Porto again and hired the person doing exactly the same job Lijnders was doing at Vito Matos. “
More elite clubs are now looking to Portugal and bypass the need for goals to spend a season in a wider European league. The additions of Diaz and Nunez to Liverpool, Ruben Dias to Manchester City and Joao Felix to Atletico Madrid are a testament to this.
Liverpool have been mistakenly linked outside Porto Otavio this week, with rumors rumored to come from Portugal, potentially from agents looking to generate interest and increase the value of their clients. Agents will know that there is more confidence on the part of major European parties to spend their money directly in Portugal, and this presents an opportunity.
“I think there’s more confidence in what you’re getting now,” Barton explained.
“It is not ideal to buy from a team in a league that is outside the big five, but these clubs are not buying from Braga, Vitoria Guimaraes or Tondela, they are buying from Benfica, Porto and Sporting, clubs that are competing. in Europe and proving that it has the development to match Europe’s five-star academies. “
Another positive factor in buying clubs in England is that South American players have been able to build their GBE (Governing Body Endorsement), where a certain number of points are required to make a move from abroad. Things like national team appearances, first team appearances and appearances in European competitions are all factors that are taken into consideration and with the best players in the Portuguese league usually having most of these boxes ticked, it eliminates any GBE concern. for club purchase.
“There is a recognition in the world of football that the standard of Portuguese football is improving and, as a result, players are improving and this is now the place to shop,” concluded Barton.
“There are fewer reserves and the clubs look at what other clubs have done and ask ‘has this player taken flight?’. Diaz is a perfect example of that. It is a very interesting moment for the Portuguese market.”