Almost unprecedented: Sporting Lisbon facing exodus, free agent frenzy
There is an almost unbelievable state of play at one of the world’s most successful clubs right now.
That club is Sporting CP, the group that has been home to Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo, and William Carvalho.
That last name is part of our story today.
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When last we checked in with the Lisbon club, its players had been attacked mid-training session by a mob of supposed fans following the club’s failure to land its near-annual berth in the UEFA Champions League. This came a month after the club’s entire first team was suspended after a row with its president.
Sporting had spent four seasons in the UCL, rebounding from its lone season outside Portugal’s Top Four since 1976.
Now many on its laundry list of high-priced talents could be leaving the club for free, potentially setting one of the most storied clubs in Portugal back to its very roots.
Bas Dost, William Carvalho, Gelson Martins, and Bruno Fernandes reportedly requested to break their contracts on Monday, joining goalkeeper Rui Patricio and Daniel Podence.
Dost scored 27 league goals this season, and joined Fernandes and Martins as Top 15 performers according to WhoScored. Carvalho, the big 26-year-old midfielder, was 21st.
Sporting has done a remarkable job identifying talent from without and growing talent from within, only once spending more than $14 million on a player (Dost) while selling 11 individuals for that much or more (Adrien Silva, Ruben Semedo, Joao Mario, Islam Slimani, Marcos Rojo, Bruma, Joao Moutinho, Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Viana, Aldo Duscher).
Only a cursory search through our pages finds several of Sporting’s want-aways in the gossip section for almost thrice that figure. Carvalho (and/or Sporting) has resisted interest of as much as $50 million, often connected with Jose Mourinho. Dost has been linked with Newcastle, and Patricio said to be making a move to PL new boys Wolves.
To lose these players for free, largely because of an attack from “supporters” is bonkers. And in your gut, you have to think the players stand a very good chance of being allowed to leave for safety reasons, making for an unexpected sort of free agent frenzy.
How long would it take for a club to rebound from that, and how far could Sporting sink on the table? Fortunately, it would have some time to rebuild for its Europa League run, but wow.