FC Porto have been one of European football’s revelations this season, as Andre Villas Boas’ side have swept all-comers aside domestically and in Europe. The side from the Estadio do Dragao finished third last season in the league, but have had a barnstorming and unbeaten run this campaign, winning the title back at a canter, sealing their victorious fate with a 2-1 away win at nearest rivals Benfica. At the time of writing Villas Boas’ men have won 25 of their 27 games, with a startling goal difference of +51, and the newly crowned Portuguese champions are looking for European success also, with a semi-final tie against Villarreal in the Europa League coming up next week.
The Dragoes exemplary run of form has not gone unnoticed, and Europe’s big clubs are starting to circle as transfer rumours ignite fans’ imaginations; three players have been most publicly touted as being pursued by Europe’s bigger clubs, with Italy or England the most likely destination.
Givanildo Vieria de Souza, aka Hulk, is a strong, powerful and abrasive frontman with an eye for goal, and is the Portuguese Primeira Liga top goalscorer with 22 goals and counting. Soon to be Italian champions Milan are reportedly keeping tabs on the Selecao goalgetter, as Massimiliano Allegri looks to add players to his side that can take the goalscoring burden from Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shoulders. However, the strikers physical attributes would suggest that he has what it takes to be a success in English football, and one of the top Premier League news headlines of 2011 have been Tottenham’s desire to spend big to capture a proven goalscorer. Countryman and ex-Porto player Anderson has publicly stated that the 24 year old striker would be an excellent addition at Manchester United also, but the striker is more likely to end up at White Hart Lane.
Hulk’s partner in crime is Radamel Falcao, who has scored 12 goals in 12 Europa League games this season. The 25 year old ex-River Plate forward has proved an excellent foil for Hulk, with an explosive burst of pace and finishing ability with both feet; the pair have scored a frightening 55 goals between them this season. Tottenham again have been linked with Falcao, with even a double move for the partnership being reported, but a more likely destination for the Colombian is Inter. The Nerazzurri are looking for a replacement for ageing Diego Milito, and one of the reason’s behind the Milanese club’s poor season is their dependence on Samuel Eto’o for goals. Falcao would complement the existing personnel at the San Siro, but will not come cheap with a fee of around €20 million being asked by his current employers.
The Porto rearguard is headed up by towering centre back Rolando, who has been the main reason his side have conceded a measly 18 goals domestically this season. The Cape Verde born Portugal international has made 10 appearances for the national side and has grown under Villas Boas’ tutelage. Both Manchester United and Liverpool have been linked with a summer move for the gifted defender, but Rolando may follow Falcao to Italy, with Juventus being the side most adamant in capturing his signature. The Old Lady of Italian football has struggled to replace Fabio Cannavaro and have been guilty of leaking soft goals this season; Rolando is the type of player to get the Turin club back amongst Europe’s top clubs.
Expect an all conquering Porto side to go on and finish the season unbeaten, with European glory a real possibility also. However as with Jose Mourinho’s class of 2004, the vultures will pick off the prize assets from Villas Boas’ team, with the coach himself most likely to follow his talented players out the door.