Portimonense: ‘Special’ relationship

Portimonense have ‘enjoyed’ a long-standing working relationship with FC Porto which has seen dozens of players from both sides trading places over the past decade. The arrangement was of benefit to the Algarveans, for many a season ‘marooned’ in the cash-strapped backwaters of the national second division, with on-loan emerging talents from the north gaining valuable experience at little or no cost. That scenario has now changed.

With former Porto B team manager António Folha in charge and Portimonense looking to establish themselves in the top tier since promotion last season, that ‘special relationship’ has soured, at least as far as fans are concerned.

For the last 18 months, Porto have been allowed to cherry-pick Portimonense’s top performers with the likes of Paulinho (since returned), Ewerton (sold on) and Wilson Manafá heading out. The latest case concerns Bruno Tabata, most recently successful with Brazil’s U-23s at the Toulon Tournament (on the bench during the final penalty shoot-out victory over Japan), who has been ‘reserved’ by Porto according to press reports.

At the same time, 22-year-old ‘B’ team midfielder Bruno Costa has arrived on loan in the opposite direction and might be joined by right back João Pedro to ‘sweeten’ the potential Tabata deal unlikely to see Portimonense receive anything near the contractual €40 million release clause hoped for.

Meanwhile, as reported last week, the club’s failure – or unwillingness – to exercise its buy option for Vitor Tormena has resulted in the defender joining Braga from ‘parent’ club Gil Vicente for €1.25 million. That loss could turn into a double blow with Lucas Fernandes, also in Toulon with Brazil, another probable departure with São Paulo not prepared to extend his loan with other clubs interested if Portimonense do not come up with the money to purchase the player outright.

One player who is ‘in’ rather than ‘out’ is 23-year-old Londrina on loan central midfielder Romulo, expected to start for the first team unlike B team bound 18-year-olds Luquinha and Felipe Vieira acquired from the same Brazilian club earlier this month.

Looking ahead, Wrexham (July 9) and Lille (July 24) have been added to the increasingly busy pre-season fixture list already featuring Braga (July 13), Porto, Betis and Getafe (July 18-21) with all matches to be played at the Municipal Stadium.


Photo: 23-year-old Londrina on-loan central midfielder Rômulo will play for the first team