Porto have the world’s most successful transfer model over the last decade. Domestically they have been a success but in terms of European glory they haven’t quite lived up to their potential.
The Estádio do Dragão is often seen as a European stepping stone for South American players, mainly due to its location and relaxed work permits. Talented players arrive, prove themselves, and secure lucrative moves elsewhere in Europe. It’s a depressing circle for fans of the club, but one that is unlikely to ever be reversed.
Each year Porto sell their key squad members and replace them with unheard of South America talent. With the financial pull of the top European teams, Porto simply can’t afford to keep their players wages… but what if they could? Here’s my starting 11 and substitutes for what could be Porto’s realistic playing squad.
GK – Iker Casillas
Free Transfer from Real Madrid
With a career which features 16 years at Real Madrid, 162 caps for Spain, 3 Champions League wins and a World Cup winners medal, it is clear to see how Porto’s summer addition would easily fend of competition from Helton.RB – Danilo
€13 from Santos
Racking up 139 appearances in 4 seasons for the Dragões he proved to be a key player, earning himself a €31m transfer to Real Madrid.
CB – Pepe
€2 from Maritimo
You may all think of Pepe as the hot-headed, tough tackling centre back, but before his move to Los Blonco’s he featured in 88 matches for Porto.
CB – Otamendi
€4 from CA Velez
Like many other South American footballers Manchester City’s latest £31.5m signing from Valencia began his European football at Porto. Playing 112 games and scoring 10 goals in 4 seasons he was a big success for the club.
LB – Alex Sandro
€9.6 from Maldonado
The 24 year old has recently earned his move to Juventus after playing 134 games for Porto. The full-back has only started getting the praise that he deserves over the last few seasons but will no doubt continue to shine in the Serie A.
CM – Joao Moutinho
€11m from Sporting
After signing from their rivals Sporting in 2010, he continued to light up the Champions League and Portuguese Premier League, playing in 136 games – scoring 10 and assisting 31, before leaving for tax-free Monaco in 2013.
CM – Fernando
€0.72 from Vila Nova
In 6 seasons with Porto he managed to win 12 trophies and featured in 233 games. Known for his ability as a holding midfielder he became a steady presence in the team during his years here.
RW – Hulk
€19 from Tokyo Verdy
Hulk, named after his likeness to actor Lou Ferrigno and his sheer physical presence, took the Portuguese Premier League by storm. In 169 appearance he scored 78 goals and assisted 60 before moving to Zenit St. Petersburg.
AM – James Rodriquez
€7.35 from Banfield
Colombia’s most expensive player and the winner of the Golden Boot at last year’s FIFA World Cup. James has really shone since his move to Real Madrid and has become a regular in the Galácticos team, scoring 17 and assisting 18 in his first season there.
LW – Iturbe
€4.25 from Quilmes
Another South American on this list, Iturbe only featured in 6 first team games for Porto but has bags of potential, he is now plying his trade for AS Roma. Dubbed the “mini Messi” by the media he certainly has a lot to live up to.
CF – Radamel Falcao
€5.43 from River Plate
El Tigre may not have performed well at Manchester United last year, but don’t forget that in his three years at Porto he netted 72 times in 87 games, and the following three years managed 70 goals in 90 games. Plagued by injury for the last two years, now recovered at Chelsea, be sure to expect his from to come back.
GK – Helton – A regular in the Porto goals for the last 9 years.
CB – Thiago Silva – He never actually played a senior game for Porto, and many of you probably didn’t know that he even played with them, but imagine what could have been. I would have had him starting and captain but chose not to due to the fact that he never fully played for the club.
CB – Eliaquim Mangala – Manchester City’s strong centre back is still young and has plenty to offer in defence.
CM – Fredy Guarin – The third Colombian to make it into this squad. Guarin has plenty offer going forward as well as taking care of his defensive responsibilities.
CM – Steven Defour – Deployed as a ball-winning midfielder he would provide back-up to to Fernando and could be used in rotation.
AM – Juan Quintero – The fourth Colombian here: while only 20 of age he has showed a ton of potential and has been tipped as the next James Rodriquez.
CF – Jackson Martinez – It was a close call between Falcao and Martinez: he has netted 92 times in 133 appearances for Porto. With him following in Falcao’s footsteps this summer to Atletico Madrid we could see his career further develop in the free-scoring La Liga.