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How Sporting Lisbon could line up if they hadn't sold their best players

Sporting Lisbon has nurtured some of the finest talents across Europe and the conveyor belt of youngsters emerging through their academy ranks shows no signs of slowing down.

But unfortunately for the Portuguese giants, keeping hold of their emerging stars has proven an impossible task due to the wealth and lure of Europe’s biggest leagues.

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The Estadio Jose Alvalade side can compete domestically with fellow Portuguese giants Porto and Benfica, but keeping Europe’s biggest powerhouses at bay when unearthing wonderkids has proven beyond the Lisbon giants.

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With several of Sporting’s former stars set to dominate the headlines during the summer transfer window, TBR takes a look at how Sporting Lisbon could line up if they hadn’t sold their best players.

How Sporting Lisbon could line up if they hadn’t sold their best players

Rui Patricio

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Patricio played 465 times for Sporting before joining Wolves in 2018 after terminating his own contract following an attack by fans.

The 34-year-old, who won Euro 2016, has just finished his first season in Rome after being signed by Jose Mourinho for £9.8m.

In his first season in the Eternal City, Patricio won the inaugural Conference League which adds to the five cups he won during his time in Lisbon.

Pedro Porro

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Sporting Lisbon signed the one-time Spain international on a permanent deal after paying Manchester City £7m.

Porro has spent the last two seasons on loan with the Leões (Lions) after City signed him from sister side Girona for £11m in August 2019.

The Spanish right-back never played for the Citizens but he has become a key part of Rúben Amorim’s Sporting side and has nine goals and nine assists from 72 matches.

Gonçalo Inácio

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The highly-rated 20-year-old is attracting interest from the likes of Manchester United, Newcastle and Wolves this summer, but the trio of Premier League sides will likely have to trigger his £39m release clause to prize him away from Sporting.

The talented Portuguese centre-back has played 70 games across the last two seasons and he looks set to be a part of Fernando Santos’ World Cup squad.

Merih Demiral

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The towering Turkey international only played one first team game for Sporting, but he was a wealth of big game experience under his belt for club and country.

The 24-year-old has impressed at Juventus and Atalanta, but with the Bergamo-based side possibly opting against signing Demiral permanently from the Old Lady, despite him making 42 appearances during his season-long loan, Newcastle have been linked with a summer move.

Nuno Mendes

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Paris Saint Germain have completed the £34m signing of Mendes after the left-back impressed during his loan spell from Sporting Lisbon.

The 19-year-old played 37 times for the Parc de Princes side and Mendes looks set for a lengthy stay in the French capital after PSG took up the option to sign him on a permanent deal.

Mendes played 47 times for Sporting before the French giants came calling.

Matheus Nunes

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The centre midfielder has been linked with a £50m move to either Manchester City and Manchester United this summer after another impressive season in the engine room.

The seven-time Portugal international could be a candidate to become Fernandinho’s replacement at Man City while United seek midfield reinforcements following the departures of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic.

Pedro Gonçalves

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After making just one first team appearance for Wolves, Goncalves has been nothing but a star since signing for Lisbon in 2020.

From 78 appearances for the Lions, the 23-year-old has 38 goals and 18 assists to his name and he’ll be hoping to secure a place in Portugal’s talented World Cup squad.

Bruno Fernandes

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What a signing for Manchester United this man has been. But prior to Fernandes’ arrival at Old Trafford in January 2020 – the former Sporting Lisbon captain was already posting eye-opening numbers.

After arriving in the Portuguese capital from Serie A side Sampdoria, Fernandes scored 63 goals and laid on 52 assists from 137 matches for Sporting.

Since Fernandes’ move to the Theatre of Dreams for an initial £47m, United’s number 18 has scored 50 goals and provided 39 assists from 126 matches.


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The dazzling Brazilian winger had just one full season with Sporting before being snapped up by Ligue 1 side Rennes. Raphinha scored nine goals and provided five assists during his time with the Lisbon giants.

Raphinha, who is reportedly looking at other clubs to join this summer following a frustrating wait for Barcelona to firm up their interest, has established himself as one of the best forwards in the Premier League with 17 goals and 12 assists from 67 matches, and he played a crucial role in keeping the Whites in the top-flight.

Rafael Leao

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The 22-year-old has elevated his game to a whole new level this season and his influential performances for AC Milan helped the Rossoneri win their first Scudetto in 11 years.

Leao only played five times for the Sporting first team before heading for Ligue 1 side Lille, but after a season in France the Serie A giants snapped up the exciting forward.

Milan’s number 17 scored 14 goals and provided 12 assists under the stewardship of Stefano Pioli this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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There was only ever going to be one man leading the front line for this Sporting side and its Portugal’s greatest player of all time.

Sporting fans will be hoping that the five-time Ballon d’Or returns to the club before he decides to call time on his iconic playing career.

Ronaldo made 31 appearances for Sporting before Manchester United paid £12.2m to sign him after he produced a man of the match performance in a friendly between the two sides.

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