January Transfer Window Review: Portuguese Perspective
The transfer window has now officially closed and, my word, what a busy January we witnessed from a Portuguese perspective, a crazed shopping spree of Portuguese talent from across the continent.
From France to Greece, England to Italy, players new and old traded scenery to revitalise careers or promote themselves on a larger stage.
And it isn't just the deals that came off that impressed and surprised; in addition to a hatful of success transfer dealings involving some of Portugal's finest, we also had the rumour mill churning throughout the month. Bruno Fernandes was linked with a move to Everton, Renato Sanches was monitored by PSG, Ricardo Quaresma seemed a certainty to be leaving Besiktas - even Bernardo Silva was rumored to be a target of Real Madrid.
But alas, perhaps unsurprisingly, none of those transfers materialised, leaving what was still a vast collection of Portuguese movements in the market.
To begin with, we saw the return of two Portuguese centrebacks to their old Portuguese clubs, one a full-time international and living legend, as Pepe made a stunning return to Porto having had his contract at Besiktas terminated, while the other is yet to play for the Portugal national team, as Tiago Ilori came back to Sporting having been plying his trade in the English second tier with Reading. Two centrebacks with very different reputations and statures in the game that have moved on to new challenges in the country they call home.
But they weren't the only Portuguese central defenders to move this window; the highly controversial Ruben Semedo also completed a return to Portuguese shores, joining Rio Ave on a season-long loan from Villarreal as the former Portugal U21 international looks to get his career back on track.
And, on the very same day as Semedo switched club, fellow Spanish-based centreback Ruben Vezo also made a move of his own, joining another La Liga outfit in Levante from Valencia.
The other high profile addition made by Porto this season was the versatile Wilson Manafá who joined the club from the increasingly well-known Portimonense, the recent home of Japanese star Shoya Nakajima.
Staying in the full back department, there was a particularly high-profile move for one of Portugal's 2016 European champions, as Cedric Soares completed a move to Inter Milan, initially on loan but with the option to make it permanent. He joins fellow right back João Cancelo in Serie A, while Sporting teenager Tiago Djalo also completed a move to Italy, the 18-year old one-to-watch joining AC Milan.
Two other full-blown Portuguese internationals to switch sides were Gelson Martins and Adrien Silva. Both were seeking to revive their careers after a frustrating season with Atletico Madrid and Leicester respectively, and both joined Leonardo Jardim's relegation-threatened Monaco to do so. It's been a great start for Gelson, who now has two assists in as many games.
As both Gelson and Adrien head to France, both Sergio Oliveira of Porto and Gil Dias of Monaco set off to Greece, also on loan deals. Oliveira joined Greek leaders PAOK, while Gil Dias joined an evergrowing Portuguese contingent at Olympiakos, managed by Pedro Martins.
There was also a Portuguese addition in England, striker Nelson Oliveira swapping the yellow of Norwich for the blue of Reading to play under Portuguese manager Jose Gomes, while West Ham snapped up Benfica youth player Mesaque Djú.
Benfica disposed of two more Portuguese players too; Bruno Varela and Alfa Semedo have both been loaned out, to Ajax and Espanyol respectively. Sporting, meanwhile, loaned Iuri Medeiros out to Sá Pinto's Legia Warsaw, the club Salvador Agra also joined, while Carlos Mane went to Union Berlin for the rest of the season, a move that can be made permanent.
Former Braga, Atletico Madrid and Wolves man Silvio also returned to football, joining Setubal, while Zenit legend Danny did the opposite, terminating his contract with Maritimo.