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Thursday, 06 February 2014 10:08

News round-up: Fernando frozen out by FC Porto, Otamendi sold

Late goals set up Porto-Benfica Portuguese Cup semi-final

fernando.jpgSeveral news channels in Portugal are reporting that FC Porto midfielder Fernando has been frozen out of the club after he refused to sign a contract extension at the Estádio do Dragão. Meanwhile, eternal rivals Porto and Benfica booked a Portuguese Cup semi-final date against each other yesterday after scraping past Estoril and Penafiel respectively.
 
 
The Fernando saga started in early January. The defensive midfielder was reported to have made an agreement to sign a contract extension although both parties were aware that Fernando would be leaving the club in the summer. The reason for signing the deal was to enable Porto to command a transfer fee. Fernando’s contract expires at the end of the season, when he becomes a free agent.
 
It now transpires that Fernando did not sign the new contract, much to the chagrin of the Porto hierarchy. The keen interest shown by Manchester City in acquiring his services in the January transfer window apparently changed Fernando’s mind. Porto did not sanction the move, Fernando has not featured in Porto’s two matches since the window closed, and it now appears player and club have turned their backs on each other. Portuguese state radio station Antena 1 yesterday reported that Porto had issued Fernando with an ultimatum: either sign a new contract or face not playing for Porto again.
 
If the reports are true and a solution cannot be found it will be an unfortunate end to Fernando’s career in Portugal. The man nicknamed “the octopus” because of his uncanny ability to get his long legs to the ball from seemingly anywhere to thwart opposition attacks has undoubtedly been one of the best players in the Liga ZON Sagres over the last five seasons. It will also end Fernando’s hopes of appearing at the 2014 World Cup. The Brazilian-born 26-year-old recently acquired Portuguese citizenship and is eligible to play for Brazil or Portugal.
 
Meanwhile Porto yesterday officially confirmed that Argentine centre-back Otamendi has been sold to Valencia for €12 million, a fee that could rise to €15m depending on appearances.
 
 

Portuguese Cup

Benfica travelled to Penafiel last night in the first quarter-final of the Portuguese Cup. Coach Jorge Jesus rested several regular starters ahead of Sunday’s Lisbon derby against Sporting. Enzo Peréz, Gaitán, Markovic, Lima and Rodrigo were left out of the starting XI, but the Eagles prevailed thanks to a late goal from Sulejmani. “Penafiel are top of the 2nd division and I believe that teams in this position are stronger than many of the teams in the top flight,” said Jesus after the match.
 
The tie of the round was played later in the evening as FC Porto hosted Estoril. The visitors dominated the first half against a desperately poor Porto side, and it was no surprise when Babanco gave Marco Silva’s side the lead. However, a Quaresma goal just before the break meant the teams went into the interval all square.
 
It was a different story in the second half, with a vastly improved Porto pushing Estoril further and further back into their defensive third. But Estoril held on and it appeared extra time was on the cards. Substitute Ghilas had other ideas, finishing well at the second post after a fine run and cross by Alex Sandro to grab the win in the dying minutes.
 
The Porto versus Benfica semi-final will be played over two matches. The first leg is at the Dragão on 26 March, with the return match at the Estádio da Luz on 16 April. With the sides also meeting in the Taça da Liga semi-final, not to mention the final Liga match of the season, several new episodes in the eternal rivalry are about to be written.
 
The other two Portuguese Cup quarter finals take place today. Braga host Desportivo das Aves and Rio Ave welcome Académica to Vila do Conde.
 
by Tom Kundert
 
 
Comments (14)
Nothing has changed my opinion Chris
14 Sunday, 09 February 2014 17:56
NJ/USA/SLB
My comments on regards to Fernando;

"He's gone for free regardless, so you might has well get the best out of him. If he starts slacking off, then sit him. "

A Bola wasn't the only press outlet reporting on the Fernando story. Many were stating exactly what A Bola was.
Porto should play him, as long as he doesn't slack off.
Regardless, bad piece of business by Porto. Like I mentioned before, I'm surprised by it. Porto has been very keen in the marketplace, but seem to have faltered here.
oh look at that NJ
13 Sunday, 09 February 2014 13:18
Chris(Canada)
Seems like Fernando was named to the squad in Porto's game against Pacos today. So, it would seem that my formula for most Portuguese sports magazines is accurate.

Let's take a gander at today's headlines on "A bola", also known as Benfica's printing press:

1. David Luiz is supporting Benfica to win the derby emphatically!
2. Porto may not be able to use Quaresma because of some small detail in his contract.
3. Sporting fans are heading to the Luz

This follows the exact formula I exposed earlier, which for your review, was:

1. Awesome reinforcements or comments from someone about Benfica
2. At least 2 players are leaving Porto, or there's a problem with a player + Pinto da Costa joined them in training
3. Say anything about Sporting just to fill the pages.

Cue my smug-face.
Haven't we heard this before??
12 Saturday, 08 February 2014 22:20
matt/nj/slb
I know that certain sectors of the Portuguese sporting press are notorious for BS stories, but I seem to remember a flurry of stories and tweets around late November or early December stating that Porto has re-signed Fernando and that he wouldn't even hit the open market. Then all the transfer drama last month, and now another round of stories about him re-signing.

Does anyone know if this has been announced officially or confirmed in any way? Just curious.

Quite frankly, I can't see how this wonderfully gifted player has been overlooked and under-rated for so long (outside of Portugal anyway...)
Bad signs
11 Saturday, 08 February 2014 11:44
Mike/Canada
Major flub by FCP. You freeze out your top defender for rest of season and lose him for zero in return at end of season. Can't help but get the feeling that things are unravelling at all levels, on and off he pitch. This happens when a team that is used to dominating on the pitch and in the boardroom starts to struggle a bit, panic sets in and bad decisions follow. The freefall may not be over yet. Clueless coach, starters who would have been benchwarmers a year ago, and loss of heart of the team, not good signs
Surprised
10 Friday, 07 February 2014 13:53
NJ/USA/SLB
How does freezing out Fernando help Porto?
He's gone for free regardless, so you might has well get the best out of him. If he starts slacking off, then sit him.

I'm really surprised at how this transpired. Either Porto misread the interest for Fernando, or the player really played hard ball. Either way, this is very unlike Porto, who's done a nice job in the marketplace.

I didn't see it, but I'm happy to hear that Sulejmani is beginning to assert himself. People forgot or don;t realize that he was a highly sought after player before he got injured and ran into issues with the manager/management. He came for free, and should he regain his form, we will be able to really cash in. Also, I know people took a liking to Salvio, but this is his second major surgery (knee?), and it could really hamper him.
Some thoughts
9 Friday, 07 February 2014 13:44
Andre/UK
I caught the second half of the Benfica match and it was a very scrappy affair. Happy to have gotten the win without too much fuss (and without extra time, given our fixture congestion this month). Cardozo looked very rusty after his long lay-off and JJ has a tricky decision for the derby on whether to start him or Lima. Cardozo always seems to score against Sporting, but is clearly not in 100% shape yet. Lima hasn't been the same player as last year, but his goal ratio this season is still quite impressive, so it's a tough call to make.

Djuricic has been a big disappointment so far, it has to be said. Particularly when he was the signing I was most excited about in the summer. And it's not as if he hasn't been given opportunities, he has been given some, but hasn't really taken them. Hopefully he improves, because he's a talent no doubt.

As for the derby, I would like to see us go with 4-4-2 again, and similar tactics to the ones against Porto. Sporting will have 3 in the middle but won't have Carvalho protecting the defence, and we must exploit that by having 2 up front and putting big pressure on Sporting's back-line, which is not the strongest. Anyway should be a great match, can't wait!

Regarding the Fernando situation, I really can't believe that Porto will leave him out as is being reported. He's their most important player imo...more so even than Jackson. I mean Porto have looked so beatable this season, even with Fernando in the team, so imagine with him out of the team? He is clearly leaving in the summer, so Porto would be smart to get another few months of his reliable service, before he departs. Things are looking a little pear-shaped for Porto at the moment, and these are testing times indeed for their rookie coach.
if he don't sign froze him to death
8 Friday, 07 February 2014 03:43
guzzy
Fernando is probably our best player afta losing lucho,,,losing Fernando would have been a disaster but in my opinion letting him see out his career is better than selling him cheap afta all we done fo him if he don't shine let him train alone afta all we don't lack players...we have young players who are determine and very capable replacements though their one like him but still they can do....

Is good selling otamendi that ll give Maicon more playing time cause i think he is a much better defender,,,and we also got young reyes on the bench
@chris
7 Friday, 07 February 2014 00:31
NJ/USA
PF's buyout clause would be if another team tried to take him away like they did with AVB. If Porto wants him gone the most they would have to pay is the remainder of his contract, which is 1m per year if I remember correctly.


I really doubt Fernando sees the pitch again without a new contract even if just a 1 year extension
Benfica-Penafiel
6 Thursday, 06 February 2014 18:40
jon/usa
The Benfica-Penafiel match was very scrappy, and at times, hard to watch. Penafiel showed why they're at the top of the second division with a gritty, well-organized display against their technically superior opponents.

Again, the Gomes-Amorim midfield duo worked well together, but they were not quite as sharp in the second half. Cardozo and Djuricic were very quiet, and Cavaleiro was not at his best. Sulejmani was our most dangerous player throughout.

The big game on Sunday, however, is what really matters. It'll be interesting to see how JJ approaches such a crucial match from a tactical standpoint. Does he utilize a similar approach to the one that worked so well against Porto (narrow, compact, high-pressure 4-4-2) or does he opt for a more balanced 4-3-3 in order to prevent Sporting from dominating the midfield battle.
Add Ons
5 Thursday, 06 February 2014 18:37
NJ/USA/SLB
Let's see, there's;
- Gustavo and Lucas now, listed as Defensive Mids
- Paulinho, Ramires and Hernanes can also fill that role and be better at going forward.
- Fernandinho could and should be called up. Sandro should't be.
Fernando is a very nice player, but Brazil has world's of talent at the position. I may agree that some of the options might be offensive minded, but that has as much to do with tactics/manager as anything else.
Fernandinho, at City, works extremely well with YaYa manning the midfield. He may attack at times, but his main role is to be positioned properly for defensive duties.

Two words for you, "Maca Podres".
Actually NJ...
4 Thursday, 06 February 2014 16:00
Chris (Canada)
O Jogo is reporting that Fernando is ready and could be back to playing this week. Not sure what's going on, but we're not getting the whole story either way.

I concur, if any of this is true (and it might be, considering the sale of Otamendi), that something is not right at Porto.

But, I also have another thought about the abrupt sale of Otamendi. If I recall correctly, Paulo Fonseca was hired with a $15 million clause attached to his contract.

Could Porto have sold Ota in order to make cash available to get rid of PF and pay out his term? Also, it could have been done in part to make cash available for bringing in a new coach.

Either way, seems Porto are reshuffling and something big is coming down the pipeline.
If it Walks like a Duck
3 Thursday, 06 February 2014 15:43
Bubba Zanetti SCP
Well, let's call a spade a spade, everyone knows that Bruno Paixão, Duarte Gomes, João Capela and Manuel Mota are Benfiquistas. Batten down the hatches, the galvanization goes on!
Unfortunate but that's business
2 Thursday, 06 February 2014 14:32
NJ/USA
If you're not going to get anything out of Fernando there is no reason to play him. That spot will be used to develop another asset.

For some reason clubs around Europe never grasped how good this guy is. I mean at 15m or so he's a steal. And this past January I'm sure porto would have taken half that with his contract expiring. Meanwhile scrubs like Garcia get purchased to warm benches.

He's also Brazil's best holding mid option IMO all the other ones aren't as good or they attack too much and leave the back line exposed
Oh Oh and some add ons
1 Thursday, 06 February 2014 13:35
NJ/USA/SLB
You mean several news outlets and not jus A Bola, is reporting Fernando's plight? Someone better let Chris know.

I think that it's fair to say that at this juncture Porto needs Fernando more than Fernando needs them. It's an awful piece of business letting his deal run out, before extending and or selling him at a premium price. Please don't go tell me how that's what Porto is trying to do now, because it's too late. Even of Fernando chooses to help Porto and extend his deal so the club can cash in on his sale, the cost (wage and/or bonus) will be at a premium.
Not like Porto to misread the situation so badly.

The term "poor Porto side" has been echoed much too much this campaign. They'll have a new manager next season, if not sooner.

Tidy win for Benfica.

On a side note, I love Sporting releasing a list of refs that are corrupt/Benfica sympathizes. Lol.
I know Sportinguistas are loving the fight back, and are once again becoming galvanized through their hatred of Benfica. It's ok, I can understand that. For most Sportinguistas, their favorite team is first the club that beats Benfica and Sporting second.
I can't wait to see this, too soon to be called clown?, does during the summer. Before you go crazy, how has he been different than JJ, who I called a clown for some of his comments. I don't like Sporting, and our matches will always be the true Classico, no matter the league standings.
Hope we destroy you.

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