Why are Sporting Lisbon losing their best players on free transfers?

Sporting Lisbon’s most prized assets are leaving the club on free transfers with the club seemingly unable to stop them. I looked at how one of Portugal’s biggest clubs got into this messy situation.

Last month, about 50 fans forced their way into the team’s training centre and assaulted players and staff. At least one player was injured and the club’s changing room was vandalised. More than 20 suspects were detained by the Police in the hours following the incident.

Dutch striker Bas Dost, who has 18 caps for his country, was cut in the head whilst assistant coaches Mario Monteiro and Raul Jose suffered injuries too.

In April, outspoken president Bruno De Carvalho harshly criticiseed his team’s performance against Atletico Madrid in the Europa League, and pointed out mistakes by individual players on social media.

The players responded by posting a joint statement defending their commitment to the club and questioning the manners of De Carvalho, saying he should support them as their “leader.”

There were recent reports all unconfirmed blaming De Carvalho for the attacks by fans on the players and coaches. The president, who reportedly used to belong to a radical fan group, denied the accusations.

It is also thought that the fans protested in this aggressive manner because Sporting failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Goalkeeper Rui Patricio and forward Daniel Podence already quit the team two weeks ago, while coach Jorge Jesus left Sporting and signed with Saudi club Al-Hilal last week.

Now, four more Sporting Lisbon players have rescinded their contracts with the troubled Portuguese club.

According ESPN, Portugal internationals William Carvalho, Gelson Martins, Bruno Fernandes and Netherlands striker Bas Dost all filed notice with the Portuguese Securities Market Commission on Monday that they were breaking their contracts with Sporting.

They all claimed, “just cause” in emails sent to the commission.

Meanwhile, Patricio, Carvalho, Martins and Fernandes are all with Portugal in Russia getting ready for their World Cup opener against Spain on Friday.