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Should Manchester United cut out the Middleman?

by David O'Neill


FC Porto look set to complete a remarkable double-swoop for David Carmo of SP Braga and Joao Silva of Corinthians.

With only 20m Euros likely to be spent between the pair, the Dragons have shown a canny attitude to the transfer market once again.

Neither player is over 23-years-of-age, and each has the potential to attract the attention of a European heavyweight further down the line.

Indeed, Liverpool were reportedly keen on signing Carmo as an understudy to Virgil van Dijk last year, although a horrific injury saw that move scuppered with the Merseyside club opting for Ibrahima Konate instead.

Having been out for a full year with that injury, it is reasonable to assume that most top clubs saw him as too much of a risk – after all, Carmo is yet to play 20 league games across a single season.

What Porto are looking to do, however, is exactly in line with what they and their Portuguese contemporaries have always done – turn risk into profit.

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes was signed for just £6.75m when he moved from Sampdoria to Sporting Lisbon in his early twenties.

He had been in Italy for half a decade at the time and had even attracted attention from Inter Milan and Juventus as a teenager, having been nicknamed “the Maradona of Novara.”

However, neither side was willing to take the gamble of offering a route to first-team football, and outside Italy and Portugal, nobody seemed to bat an eye.

The risk-taking facets of his game have always been there, and it seems that the only club willing to take a gamble worthy of a Bruno pass were Sporting.

That gamble profited Sporting with £47.25m, 59 goals and a ton of assists to boot.

It is a remarkable talent among the “Big 3” of Portugal to be able to spot a talent, develop them and then extract maximum value.

There are countless examples, but the most head-spinning in terms of sheer monetary value has to be Joao Felix.

SL Benfica took a risk that even Porto were unwilling to take when they signed Felix from their direct rivals as a 15-year-old.

The Dragons were put off by his small frame, but in Lisbon Felix was catapulted to stardom while still a teenager.

Their reward? 20 goals, 11 assist and a whopping €127m in transfer profit.

Premier League clubs have been a consistent source of revenue for Porto and Benfica in particular, and since the new millennium, no club save those two have recouped over €1bn in transfer income.

Along with Bruno Fernandes, Victor Lindelof, Fabio Vieira, Raul Jimenez, Ederson, Fabio Silva, Eliaquim Malanga, Luis Diaz, Ruben Dias and Darwin Nunez have combined to cost Premier League clubs €486m in transfer fees.

The price of those players when signing for Portuguese clubs? €83.23m.

Perhaps it’s time to cut out the middleman?

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