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Porto’s Imbula purchase proves Dragons can deal with losses

| 01.07.2015

Portuguese giants Porto (rank outsiders at 50/1 with Coral to win the Champions League) have long been one of the savviest, sensible and smoothest operators in the transfer market, keeping their cool as other clubs become embroiled in summer madness.

The Dragons’ scouting network in South America is much admired and envied, as the Oporto outfit frequently hoover-up some of the most promising young talents from outside Europe.

Never ones to turn down a profit, Porto may unashamedly be a selling club but they definitely milk it, having once again landed top dollar for departed stars Danilo and Jackson Martinez, who have both headed to Madrid with capital rivals Real (5/1 to lift the Champions League) and Atletico respectively.

Every summer, smart re-investment is required to replace those to have predictably departed the Estadio do Dragao, and this transfer window will be no exception, as Porto have also lost loan stars Jose Campana, Casemiro and Olivier Torres.

Impressively, the Portuguese big-guns have already moved to fill Brazil and Los Blancos midfield shield Casemiro’s space in the squad, with their latest capture of engine-room enforcer Giannelli Imbula from Marseille, for a fee of around £14m, timely.

Another escapee from Marcelo Bielsa’s side, who are suffering from somewhat of an exodus, the 22-year-old is believed to be Porto’s second-highest ever signing, which should appease fans who have seen several quality players up sticks and leave.

“I came here for the confidence relayed in me and for the sporting project I was shown. Leaving Marseille over Porto feels like I’m moving up in my career and I hope I’m able to confirm all the hopes the team has in me,” the all-action midfielder said upon his arrival.

Dynamic and energetic, Imbula is superb value, so Porto can focus on supplementing other areas of their squad now that they have once again added steel and potential in the centre of the park.

Watch Imbula’s highlights:

As Cameroon attacker Vincent Aboubakar appears the natural successor for former marksman Martinez, having struck eight goals plus four assists in 20 outings across all competitions, and filled in when the prolific poacher was injured, it makes sense that the Dragons lured Alberto Bueno on a Bosman.

The 27-year-old can play anywhere in attack, having arrived from Spanish side Rayo Vallecano, so will not stunt Aboubakar’s progress, but can act as a safety net should the young striker struggle, or a supporting act should he thrive.

As for looking for solutions from within, Porto should not panic about the exit of Atleti talent Torres, as Dragons academy graduates set to return to their parent club, after successful loan spells and UEFA Under-12 Champions exploits with Portugal, include adaptable Toze and Sergio Oliveira.

Julen Lopetegui can already call on the likes of Yacine Brahimi, Bruno Martins Indi, Alex Sandro, Barcelona-owned Cristian Tello and Juan Quintero in what is a squad with a strong spine so, while second spot in the Portuguese Primeira Liga and a 7-4 aggregate Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich may not be a bad season on paper, more will be expected this time around.

The juggernauts will surely still add more depth or a further sprinkling of attacking star dust, and perhaps another young player can emerge to enthrall the Stadio do Dragao, but for now Porto look to have done prudent business once again.



Holly Thackeray

Holly is a member of the content team, and can often be found on the sports desk writing about favourite topics Serie A and East Asian footballing nations. A recent darts convert, she is also a fully-fledged member of Barney's Army and a proud Leeds-born Manchester United fan.