One would think that after consecutive summers losses of Hulk to Zenit St. Petersburg and then Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez to AS Monaco this summer, a club like FC Porto would take a step back. But, as evidenced by the performance of the team during the Emirates Cup, the team coached by Paulo Fonseca is just as strong as ever.
FC Porto has a proven track record of unearthing great young talent and then nurturing them to be great footballers before selling them at a great profit for the club several years later. Entering the 2013-14 Portuguese league season and Champions League play, Porto has a team that will be strong favorites to win the league and advance to the knockout stages in Champions League play.
The reason why Porto will not feel the weight of their losses is because they have, in true Porto fashion, reloaded and replaced the departed with players of equal talent and skill while still retaining talent players. The most talented and talked about addition is Colombian midfielder Juan Fernando Quintero.
Quintero, who recently represented Colombia at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, was signed from Italian side Pescara. Quintero has naturally been compared to Rodriguez, who is also Colombian and played as an advanced attacking midfielder or a central playmaking midfielder.
In this case, the comparisons are not far off. Evidence of this came in Sunday’s Emirates Cup game against Napoli. While not expected to play, Quintero turned in a second-half performance that made everyone stand up and take notice of his potential and only cemented the tag of him being the next big thing that will come through Porto’s developmental factory.
In addition to Quintero, Mexican national team players Hector Herrera, a holding midfielder, and Diego Reyes, a central defender/defensive midfielder, should also be valuable contributors and develop as players.
Right defensive winger Ricardo, who signed from league rivals Guimaraes, turned in an eye-catching performance during the Emirates Cup. While the new signings bring much promise, excitement and confidence, it is almost easy to forget that Porto will continue to be a force because of the players who are coming back.
Leading the charge upfront will be Colombian Jackson Martinez who in his first season with Porto was the leading scorer in the Portuguese league and was rumored to be sold to Napoli at one point this summer. In addition to Martinez, Steven Defour gives the Porto midfield the balance all great midfields need with Alex Sandro, Silvestre Varela, Kelvin and Luis Gonzalez all valuable contributors from last season’s team back to contribute for the 2013-14 season.
While it is never easy to quickly replace the losses of valuable and important players like Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez, the club has a proven track record behind them to show that they will be able to overcome and continue being one of Europe’s top sides.