Porto’s squad rebuild bearing resemblance to Mourinho days
Julen Lopetegui recruited well for his Porto side in the summer, and could potentially have one of the best squads since Jose Mourinho’s time in charge of the club.
Although they trail Benfica at the top of Liga by four points, they are by no means out of the title race, and are impressive underdogs in the Champions League, having not lost so far. They are 20/1 with Coral to reach the final.
Having sold both Eliaquim Mangala and Fernando to Manchester City for just over £48m, they also amassed more than £30m from Juan Iturbe, Nicolas Otamendi, Steven Defour and Andre Castro. In came Adrian from Atletico Madrid for just under £10m, while Bruno Martins Indi on the back of a good World Cup for the Netherlands was brought in from Feyenoord to replace Mangala for nearly £7m.
Left winger Yacine Brahimi, who has proved to be a threat this season with his direct dribbling and mazy runs, arrived for just under £6m from Granada, while securing Casemiro and Cristian Tello on loan from Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively has proved a masterstroke.
There are similarities between Lopategui and Mourinho’s Porto teams, in that they are hard to break down. They haven’t conceded in their last six league matches, and are steadily building momentum. Not only are they pragmatic and efficient in style, though their goals are coming from different areas of the pitch.
While lead marksman is Colombian hitman Jackson Martinez with 24 strikes in 36 appearances across all competitions, Tello has stepped up recently and has dispatched six in 22 league outings, also adding eight assists. Highly rated right back, Danilo, who has been linked with a lucrative, big-money move to Real Madrid, has proved useful, scoring four goals, contributing as many assists.
Perhaps one of the success stories is 19-year-old Oliver Torres, who joined Adrian in switching from Atleti on loan. His haul of six goals and assists in 18 league outings has been impressive and, if Lopategui can talk both the teenager and his parent club into agreeing to a permanent transfer, Porto could have a gem in which to build their team around.
Casemiro will be another one that the Porto boss will hope can be converted into a permanent signing and, with Los Blancos bringing in 22-year-old compatriot Lucas Silva from Cruzeiro in January, the 23-year-old may feel he is better suited to the Portuguese club. He has the potential to be as effective as former club legend Costinha, who played a vital role in Mourinho’s trophy-laden time with the club, which included a Champions League triumph.