Falcao, Hulk, and the other players who may leave Europa League Champions Porto
With Portugal having provided three out of four semi-finalists in the Europa League as well as both finalists, the country seems to be set to undergo a footballing renaissance. Success in Europe’s second competition has guaranteed Portugal more places in the Champions League, its first. Those gains will not be enjoyed until the 2012-13 season, however, and the question for Porto, Portugal’s league champions and standard bearers in Europe, will be whether they can keep their Europa League-winning squad together this summer, let alone next. The Luxury Player has a look at some of the talented young men whose services Porto will be keen to call upon during next year’s Champions League campaign.
Radamel Falcao García
Best known by the name of the elegant Brazilian midfielder for whom he was named, Falcao is, as strikers often are, the jewel in Porto’s crown. With 72 goals in 81 appearances for Porto, including 38 in 42 this season alone and five in the last two matches of the Europa League, the Colombian has established himself as one of the game’s most prolific marksmen and consequently as one of the most sought-after in Europe. Real Madrid, Milan, Inter, Roma, Juventus, Arsenal and Spurs count themselves amongst his suitors. With a buyout clause of reportedly 30 million euros he won’t come cheap, but some of Europe’s wealthier clubs may feel that he’s worth the investment. Falcao himself has already expressed his desire to remain with Porto, but it remains to be seen what figures the clubs interested in him are prepared to propose.
Somthing of a late bloomer, the Brazilian forward spent three years in Japanese football before making the move to Porto in 2008. A centre-forward by trade, Hulk shown great versatility with his devastating performances on the right of a front three this season. He has the tremendous strength and pace often so often coveted by European clubs, but his 100 million euro buyout clause should be enough to keep suitors such as Milan, Spurs and Liverpool at bay.
A quick, skilful winger, Varela has worked his way into Porto’s front three and is now on Manchester City’s radar. He should cost the English club somewhere in the region of 15 million euros.
The platform upon which much of Porto’s success has been built this season, the unassuming midfielder has been closely watched by Inter. Leonardo feels that he may be the man to protect a defence that leaked goal after goal in the knockout rounds of this year’s Champions League.
The Uruguayan full-back was an integral part of the Uruguayan team to reach the semi-finals of last year’s World Cup. Juve are reportedly interested in a man with a wealth of tournament experience and who is unlikely to cost more than 7 million euros.
The Portuguese international has been named, as is the wont of football journalists around the world, the new Ricardo Carvalho. Roma are considering him as a possible replacement for the Milan-bound Philippe Mexes, though Manchester United and Juventus are also thought to be interested.
The young Colombian winger seems likely to stay, especially if Porto lose one of their regular front three. Though the 19-year-old arrived only last year from Argentinian club Banfield for 5 million euros, his buyout clause of 30 million suggests that Porto know that they may have a gem on their hands. Sampdoria were interested in taking him on loan earlier this season, but Rodríguez, who contributed 16 assists this season, seems more likely to be staying put.
Another Colombian perhaps more likely to stay than to go, the central midfielder has attracted the interest of Milan, but is almost certainly not one of the Italian club’s principle targets. This fantastic goal against Maritimo notwithstanding, Guarín’s performances seem to have escaped the attention of Europe’s wealthiest clubs.
The young coach has already started garnering plaudits from all corners of the footballing world. Speculation had linked him to Chelsea, where it is presumed that Carlo Ancelotti will soon be receiving his marching orders, but Villas-Boas has committed his future to Porto and is confident that the club’s other stars will do the same.
This slightly cheeky addition to the list is a reminder that Porto, though traditionally a selling club within Europe, have an extensive network of scouts throughout South America. The Argentinian youth international, who shone in the U-20 Championship earlier this year and will be joining Porto in June, will be hoping next season to replicate the success of fellow wide attacker James Rodríguez.