Between Manchester and Paris. Universal Vitinho from Porto
Porto midfielder Vitinho has what it takes to be a star. So it should come as no surprise that top clubs are starting to circle the 22-year-old Portuguese more and more tightly. Let’s break down who claims him, who can use him, and what are the playing characteristics of Vitor Machado Ferreira, better known as Vitiña.
An example of Porto’s conveyor belt
Portuguese clubs grow stars and sell them for big money – a scheme known even to those who do not follow European soccer particularly closely. Vitinha’s fate fits into that scheme. The omnipresent and scorching Porto scouts spotted the boy, who was born near Braga, at the age of 11 – at the same time he joined the Dragons’ academy. The mechanism for the production of the expensive star was set in motion.
Inside the Porto system, the player developed smoothly, without disruptions and unexpected “shots”. So in the 2019/20 season he had already made his debut in the main team, playing 12 matches for it. The Dragons became the Portuguese champions that season, but it is clear that Vitinha has not yet played any key role in the success – he was getting used to the big game.
However, even playing in a secondary role was enough for Nuno Espírito Santo, who understands Portuguese soccer very well, to notice the midfielder. He insisted that Wolverhampton sign Vitinho on loan for the 2020/21 season.
Wolves are a pretty good Portuguese branch of English soccer. The environment seems to be conducive to a good adaptation, but Vitinho has taken off too quickly and has not yet developed the right conditioning to play in the physically demanding English Championship. He had little chance to prove himself at Wolverhampton.
During his loan spell, Vitinha played 22 games for Wolves, but looked too lightweight when he appeared on the pitch. Yet glimmers of obvious talent were still visible. And in some episodes, the midfielder drew attention to himself. Some particularly shrewd Wolverhampton fans insisted that the club buy the player – the asking price at the time was £17 million.
It was probably a case where the right player was at the club at the wrong time. Yes, and he suited more to technical teams that have a lot of ball possession and build multi-move combinations. A certain mismatch in styles, physical unreadiness of the player as well as financial risks due to the pandemic effect led to the fact that the Wolves did not dare to buy out the contract.
And here’s just a couple of words about style. Among Vitiña’s many qualities, his versatility stands out. He has played in different roles in Porto’s midfield. He showed himself in the game from free kick to free kick as an “eight”, acted closer to the attack as a “ten”, as well as more deeply as a “six”. For the Dragons, since his return to Porto, Vitinha has become an indispensable all-rounder in the midfield, supporting both attack and defense.
From the outside, the most spectacular part of his style is his long-range shots, very accurate and strong. One may also note his ability to play quickly and effectively from the edge of the net. Last season for Porto Vitiña played 47 matches, scored four goals and provided five assists, which may not seem the most outstanding performance. However, he was regularly involved in attacks that led to either goals or scoring chances in key phases. Vitinha’s creation is not expressed in the numbers we are accustomed to – what sets him apart is his ability to orchestrate the conditions for a goal-scoring moment.
Who could use him?
After a very successful season last season, Vitinho is in the interest of several top clubs. Teams like the current Manchester United and Arsenal simply need such a player. His contract includes a fee of 34 million pounds – not too much money for English clubs.
And it is safe to say that this sum will be the price for Porto to sell Vitinho. Club president Pinto da Costa has said that the Dragons have already received an offer for the midfielder, but rejected it. So, it was less than the specified value of the off-take. And for less money Porto is not going to sell him.
At one point, the Portuguese and English press claimed that it was closer than others to activating the clause on the step backs for United. However, United’s new management is primarily targeting Barcelona’s Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong, with Eric ten Hag’s pitch. If they manage to get de Jong, then the interest in Vitigne will fall away.
Arsenal are too slow and thoughtful in their interest in the midfielder. The same goes for Newcastle, who have good money. Bayern and Liverpool have not elaborated their interest in Vitigne to formalize it into a specific proposal. Barcelona’s interest was more substantial, but the Catalans’ financial constraints will likely not allow them to sign the Portuguese.
Under such circumstances, the most likely place to continue Vitigny’s career is PSG. At the very least, the Parisians have advanced further than the others. All the transfer documents are already prepared there, as well as Vitiña’s medical examination. It is clear that money is not a problem for the Parisians. The purchase of this Portuguese is personally important for the new man in charge of Parisian transfers, Luis Campos, who replaced Leonardo. He allegedly wants very much to bring the Portuguese midfielder to Paris with his first deal. Campos is known for successful deals. At the same champion Lille – from the recent one.
And Vitinho’s move to the Parisian club seems interesting, although many will be disappointed, believing that the midfielder could have chosen a more competitive championship and a less toxic, albeit star-studded, team to develop his talent. However, under the terms of the young Portuguese in Paris certainly would not be offended. Time will tell how good a deal this is from the standpoint of the development of a bright new star in soccer.