The Portuguese Primeira Liga is fast becoming the go-to market for Premier League teams in the transfer window.
The latest big-name signing, Darwin Nunez, has got off to a flier; a goal in the Community Shield and on his Premier League debut signal the high likelihood of success in another transfer between Portuguese and English top-flight clubs.
While there are the inevitable transfers that haven’t worked out (who can forget the disastrous £40m move of Eliaquim Mangala to Man City) the majority have been hugely successful.
Here, we look at six key transfers that prove Portugal is the ultimate proving ground for the Premier League.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 2003/04 – Sporting CP to Manchester United
The one that got the ball rolling. How can you talk about successful transfers from Portugal and not mention Cristiano Ronaldo?
Before becoming a contender for the greatest player of all-time, Ronaldo came through the Sporting CP academy. Signed by Sir Alex Ferguson for £17.1m following an impressive pre-season display against United, CR7 would become a world-class talent before Leaving for Madrid.
Leading United to three consecutive league titles, Ronaldo achieved the first of his five Champions League titles in 2008. That same season the forward scored a staggering 31 times in the league, to land the Golden Boot and his first Ballon d’Or.
While his second stint in Manchester hasn’t reached the same heights, it doesn’t come close to tarnishing Ronaldo’s legacy at Old Trafford.
Ramires: 2010/11 – Benfica to Chelsea
The 51-cap Brazilian had a hugely successful stint in London following a £19.8m move from Benfica. Signed as a true box-to-box engine, Ramires scored 34 and assisted 24 in 250 games for Chelsea.
The all-action midfielder won every domestic competition with the Blues, while also tasting European success winning the Europa League and that memorable 2012 Champions League final. Ramires was named Chelsea Player of the Year in 2012, highlighting his importance to the side.
Leaving England for the riches of China, Ramires was sold for £25.2m, a profit for Chelsea on top of the success.
Ederson: 2017/18 – Benfica to Manchester City
When Pep Guardiola arrived at Man City, his first statement was to drop the popular Joe Hart, for ball-playing keeper Claudio Bravo. While the Chilean suited Guardiola’s play-style, he was known for regularly producing blunders.
But after splashing £36m on Brazilian stopper Ederson, the City defence has become one of the strongest in Europe.
One of the top five ‘keepers in world football, none rival Ederson’s distribution, a vital starting point for the English Champions. In Manchester, Ederson has won four league titles and five domestic cups.
Ederson’s importance at the Etihad is clear, though success in the Champions League would cement his legacy at City.
Raul Jimenez: 2018/19 – Benfica to Wolves
Following the well-trodden path from Latin America to Portugal, Jimenez made his move to the Midlands initially on loan. After excelling in the Premier League his transfer was made permanent for £34.2m.
While the Portuguese contingent at Wolves is huge, it was the Mexican who catapulted his side from promotion to European football. Jimenez has been the main goal scorer for Wolves in the league and in Europe, with an impressive tally of 10 in 15 Europa League games.
In total, the striker has 77 goal contributions in 146 games since his move from Portugal, a figure that would have been much higher had it not been for his awful head injury.
Bruno Fernandes: 2019/20 – Sporting CP to Manchester United
Eyebrows were raised when United spent £56.7m on Fernandes, but his performances since then have largely justified his huge price-tag.
Arguably the best transfer made by United in recent years, Bruno was the one shining light in an often dysfunctional side in his first two seasons at Old Trafford. Almost unmatched in Europe as a goal-scoring midfielder, he has found the net 50 times while assisting 38 since his arrival United.
Although his form dropped off last season as the team continued to struggle for consistency, it is difficult to imagine how much worse the Red Devils would have been without the former Sporting CP star in their side.
Ruben Dias: 2020/21 – Benfica to Man City
Coming through the youth-ranks at Benfica, Ruben Dias had already made 136 first team appearances in Portugal before moving to Manchester aged just 23.
Not the first choice in their hunt for a CB, Dias has become the leader at the heart of City’s defence. With maturity in his decision making and an excellent passer, Dias has become an ever present in Guardiola’s side.
After two years in England, Dias has won the league on both occasions, often leading the side in the absence of former captain Fernandinho. Player of the Year in his first season at the Etihad, Dias can be mentioned as one of the best in his position in world football. Completely dominant and still only 25, the best is yet to come.
Words by Josh Barnes.