Former Sporting Lisbon administrator Miguel Cal has spoken bluntly of William Carvalho’s reported move to Benfica.
Crossing the Benfica/Sporting divide
Footballing rivalry is something which perpetuates through the entire sport. Exciting clashes, bragging rights and a collective dislike of the opposition which brings an entire group of fans together. However, there are some instances where players and coaches choose to cross the divide from one rival to another.
A famous Premier League example is that of Sol Campbell who left Tottenham Hotspur on a free transfer and joined Arsene Wenger and Arsenal in one of the most shocking switches of the league’s history.
The hatred between the two clubs is legendary but there are other teams on the continent that can rival that same distaste for their local competitor. In Portugal, specifically, the capital of Lisbon, Benfica and Sporting are known for their rivalry ingrained into Portuguese footballing culture.
The duo make up two of the main three title challengers along with Porto in the league, although Sporting have more recently become a side that can prolong their challenge instead of falling away.
Crossing the divide is not something that is completely uncommon between the two sides and rather amusingly the Benfica coach Jorge Jesus is managing his second stint at the club after leaving and joining city rivals Sporting in 2015. The comments from the club hierarchy at the time were ones of frustration and anger.
“Next year we will have a coach committed to Benfica and not one only interested in his ego and bank balance,” said director João Gabriel. “I’m grateful to Jorge Jesus for the ingratitude he showed us. He showed us we deserve to change.”
Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira also remarked, “I’m disappointed but I’m not surprised.” And yet, despite all of the animosity, Jesus has now returned to Benfica to become head coach.
— SL Benfica (@SLBenfica) July 17, 2020
Carvalho next to cross
William Carvalho left Sporting Lisbon for La Liga and surprisingly Real Betis. This was a surprise because previously the Portuguese midfielder had been linked to a host of top European clubs such as Arsenal.
Though a move to one of Europe’s hyper clubs never materialized, the Portuguese international has become an established player in the Primera Division and has continued to develop. And this has led to interest growing once again but interestingly from his homeland of Portugal.
Yet it is not his former side Sporting which are in the running for his signature but that of their rivals Benfica. With Sporting having a history of acquiring former members of staff from the club, surely they will be okay with their former player moving to Benfica will they not? Not a chance.
Former Sporting administrator Miguel Cal described the proposed move as ‘disgusting.’
“He did his training at Sporting. Sporting opened all the doors for him. It came out as it came out. After he left, he told me that he loved Sporting and its fans and that he never wanted to harm him. So Betis still paid for his departure. At the first opportunity, will you return to Benfica? Is this from someone who loves Sporting and its fans? With so many clubs to play in,” Miguel Cal said.
“Regardless. It is a tremendous disappointment that he considers this option. I spoke to him once, where he made beautiful words about our club. If you agree to go to Benfica, it is disgusting for a man “
As of yet, no official bid has been reported but one could materialise in the coming days.
This article was edited by Josh Barker.
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