Jorge Jesus’ Lisbon loyalties switch in dramatic Primeira Liga plot
Successful Benfica coach Jorge Jesus recently guided the Portuguese club to their second consecutive Primeira League title triumph, but in a dramatic switch in Lisbon loyalties, the experienced boss is set for a move crosstown to join bitter rivals Sporting.
In what will be a sensational managerial move in Portugal’s top tier division, Jesus could spark a Benfica backlash, with an ongoing dispute over his salary with the champions being cited as the reason for such a high-profile switch.
Jesus has managed Benfica since 2009, but it is believed the club’s hierarchy were trying to negotiate a pay-cut in his wages, which were previously the highest for any coach in the country (Portugal are 25/1 with Coral to win Euro 2016). However, holding a personal connection with Sporting Lisbon, where his father played in the 1940s, the controversial manager is set to cause further frictions amongst Portugal’s fiercest rivals.
Sporting have suffered a domestic decline in the last decade, winning one league title since 2000, and a lack of silverware is the potential deal-breaker, with current Lisbon coach Marco Silva recently leading the Lions to the Portuguese Cup – their first trophy in seven years.
The Lions had to stage a remarkable revival in order to claim their recent cup success, having gone 2-0 down at half-time and seeing Cedric Soares sent off after just 15 minutes, they netted twice late on, before triumphing 3-1 on penalties.
With Jesus set to switch from the Stadium of Light in the near future, morale is already at a high after such a dramatic cup coup, but the arriving coach will need to rebuild if he is to maintain that run of form, with several stars set to depart, including on-loan winger Nani.
The Manchester United wideman is enjoying a superb season-long second spell back at his boyhood club, and has been one of the stand-out performers in the country this term.
“Nobody believed in the comeback, we did and we managed to equalise with positive thinking,” stated a jubilant Nani. “That’s football, it can change in a matter of minutes.”
An instant job for the possibly arriving boss to deal with could also be retaining the services of star midfield maestro William Carvalho, who has been linked with a host of European giants, including Manchester United (5/1 for the 2015/16 Premier League title).
It was the 16th time Sporting have lifted the Cup, bringing them level with rivals Porto, but still nine short of record victors Benfica, who wrapped up this season’s league crown under the guidance of potential new boss Jesus.
— Tom Kundert (@PortuGoal1) June 4, 2015
Even attention-craving former Benfica boss Jose Mourinho had a season stint in between his move from the capital club to other fierce foes Porto in 2002, outlining the theatrics surrounding this transition.
Elsewhere, while Benfica and Sporting bicker over managerial agendas, two-time European Cup champions Porto are busy building a squad capable of recapturing their domestic crown and challenging the big guns in the Champions League.
Holding a rich history of former stars that have gone on to make a genuine mark on the European stage, such as Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Deco and Hulk, the Dragons are now focusing on formulating a new generation of stars.
Porto looked to have acquired Real Madrid’s midfield anchor Casemiro permanently, but new Los Blancos boss Rafa Benitez may have pulled the plug on that move, however, and the Brazil international looks set to return to the Bernabeu after spending last term on loan at the club. One Dragons deal that is done is former Derby County player Alberto Bueno joining on a free from lesser-known Madrid outfit Rayo Vallecano.
But a bigger name replacement for Jackson Martinez may be required as he prepares to depart in the summer, with Premier League outfit Arsenal reportedly tracking him (also 5/1 to be Premier League champions next term).
A switch from champions Benfica to Sporting for Jesus, along with Porto’s potential new crop of world beaters aiming high in Europe’s elite club competition, are proving that the Primeira Liga is still one of the most dramatic divisions in world football, both on and off the pitch.