Last Friday, it was announced that AS Monaco had bought FC Porto midfield duo James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho for a reported €70 million.
Much has been made of how Monaco are making a push with its Russian billionaire owner to establish itself as one of Europe’s elite clubs, now that it will be playing in France’s Ligue 1 again after a two season absence. To me, what I take out of this transfer is the continued success of Porto’s ability to sign top talent and then turn around and sell them to off to clubs in Europe’s main leagues at a substantial profit.
Since 2002, Porto has been the most successful Portuguese club as it has won nine domestic league titles, two UEFA Cup/Europa League titles and a Champions League title in 2003-04 season. Even though there has been a revolving door of managers and players, the club has continued to succeed as the model in place is clearly a successful one.
Porto’s talent evaluation and scouting is based on a foundation of developing talent at their youth academy and signing young talent mainly from South America at reasonable transfer prices which offer good re-sell value a few years later. James Rodriguez is a great example as he was bought by Porto from Argentinean club Banfield for €5.1 million.
Even with Rodriguez and Moutinho having been sold, this does not mean that the Porto team does not have any other players who would not be coveted by clubs in Europe’s main leagues.
A player to keep an eye on in a year or two is Jackson Martinez. The Colombian, who was bought last summer from Mexican club Jaguares de Chiapas cost Porto around €7 million. All Martinez did in his first season at Porto is score 25 league goals in 26 league matches, finishing as top scorer of the Portuguese first division.
Martinez is a an out-and-out goalscorer, similar to former Porto forward and compatriot Radamel Falcao. Another impressive year and a good showing at the World Cup next summer, and Martinez should see Porto make a nice profit from another astute signing.
With the selling of Rodriguez and Moutinho to Monaco, many clubs in Porto’s situation would normally find themselves struggling to cope and replace the loss of such talented players. As Porto has demonstrated, they are more than capable to replace the loss of top talent and keep on winning league titles.
While many clubs struggle to find a model to win on the field and make a profit off of it in a balanced and successful way, Porto is showing the smaller European clubs how it is done.