With the 2018/19 season over and continued top division Liga Nos status secured, Portimonense FC has already started preparations for the coming challenges on and off the pitch.
Major improvements are in progress at the ‘Dois Irmãos’ training centre, the €3 million spent having most recently attracted the Brazilian women’s team on their way to this summer’s World Cup.
That investment, in addition to the €2 million facelift already given to the Municipal Stadium, mostly financed by last year’s sale of Fabrício to Urawa Reds, is deemed essential by directors in establishing Portimonense amongst Portugal’s elite in the medium to long term.
That laudable objective, however, appears to be somewhat undermined by the club’s strategy where the team itself is concerned. There is no question that the mid-term sale of star players Nakajima, Manafá and Ewerton contributed considerably to the slump during the second half of the now past season, and further departures expected during the current transfer window will not improve that situation.
Defensive mainstay and the only first team regular actually born in Portimão, Ruben Fernandes, has already left to join former coach Vítor Oliveira at Gil Vicente.
Another regular, although on a loan-back arrangement from Porto, Paulinho, sees his immediate future in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the very influential Tabata, called up by Brazil for the imminent prestigious Toulon Tournament, is being watched by several clubs including Leipzig and Villarreal. Wellington is wanted in Cyprus and Aylton Boa Morte, only recently promoted from the U-23s, has suitors in Mexico and Japan.
To replace these actual and potential losses, Portimonense have signed 23-year-old Aves B-team midfielder Jorge Vilela and are said to be keeping tabs on Nacional da Madeira’s Bryan Rochez, Chaves’ Maras and out-of-favour Santos winger Orinho. At this moment, incumbent manager António Folha is looking to begin almost from scratch come late August and it is, therefore, no surprise that he is yet to commit his future to the Algarveans.
By SKIP BANDELE