Flash back to 2003 when Cristiano Ronaldo moved from sunny Lisbon to one of the biggest clubs in the world, Manchester United.
That is now the best example of the world class talent that is produced in the Portuguese League.
With the “Big Three” repeatedly dominating Liga Nos, Benfica, Porto and Sporting are carrying the flag for Portugal.
But it’s hard for Portugal’s top teams to compete when their very best talent is lured away to the top teams in Europe.
Benfica alone have made more than £230 million in the last three years from academy graduates. In 2017, Os Encarnado were picked apart in the summer transfer window.
Victor Lindelof and Ederson both left for Manchester with Lindelof landing himself a £31.5m deal to the Red Devils and the Brazilian keeper moved to the Etihad for £36m. These two, alongside Nelson Semedo who crossed borders to Spain and signed for Barcelona, were the defensive core for Benfica and were a huge part in the Aguias’ five consecutive league titles.
In the same year, Paris Saint-Germain took the speedster and promising talent Goncalo Guedes from the Estadio da Luz for £27m. Recently promoted Wolves also took Helder Costa to Molineux for a low-priced £13.5m.
At the other side of Lisbon, Portuguese international Rui Patricio is on the brink of a move to Italian giants Napoli. The experienced 30-year-old made his way through Sporting’s youth system and has been their no.1 for several years, winning the European Championship in 2016 with the Selecao along the way.
William Carvalho also looks to be on the way out, Os Leoes’ president Bruno de Carvalho has confirmed the midfielder is free to leave with Everton actively chasing the 26-year-old’s signature.
In this transfer window, Porto have already sold half of their title-winning defence with Ricardo Pereira completing a move to Leicester and Ivan Marcano signing a three-year deal for Champions League semi-finalists Roma.
Despite Benfica, Porto and Sporting’s stature, the top dogs in Portugal are far from competing at the elite stage.
Os Dragoes went furthest in Europe reaching the last 16 in the Champions League before being crushed by runners-up Liverpool and their fabulous front three, 5-0 over two legs. Benfica embarrassed themselves in Europe’s top competition when they exited the group stage with no points in hand, losing all six group stage matches.
Portuguese clubs struggle to keep their best talent which is detrimental to their hopes of competing at the very top. But they have subsequently developed an impressive business and transfer policy.
The trend remains and top European giants will continue to take away Liga Nos’ very best assets.
Do you think Liga Nos clubs are the production line for Europe’s elite? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @AllOutFootball_ with the hashtag #AOF!