Having enjoyed successful stints with Sporting and FC Porto, a move to England beckons for Portugal's midfield lynchpin.
With the likes of Andres Iniesta, Andrea Pirlo and Xavi stealing the limelight at Euro 2012 in the middle of the park, one player has been cruelly overlooked – Joao Moutinho. The Portugal international was one of the star performers for A Seleccao this summer, even if Cristiano Ronaldo was the player stealing the limelight.
With his impressive displays in the middle of the park, many are now giving the 25-year-old the praise he so rightly deserves. Moutinho began his career with hometown club Portimonense S.C. arriving at just the tender age of eight-years-old. Here he would spend five years before getting his big break in football.
In 1999 Sporting Clube de Portugal spotted the potential of the then-13-year-old and managed to secure the signature of the pint-sized midfielder. It was with the Leoes that his career really began to take off, with then-head coach Jose Peseiro handing Moutinho his debut at just 17 in 2005. The Portugal international went on to make 26 appearances in all competitions that year.
Moutinho went on to make over 250 appearances for Sporting during his 10 year association with the club and became the second youngest captain in their illustrious history for the 2007/08 season, aged just 20. A year later Everton came close to signing the midfielder before controversy struck.
It was with the Leoes that his career really began to take off, with then-head coach Jose Peseiro handing Moutinho his debut at just 17 in 2005.
In July 2010, Moutinho opted to leave Sporting or fierce rivals FC Porto. The move attracted widespread criticism from prominent members of the Sporting board, including chairman Jose Eduardo Bettencourt. The club tried to hold on to the midfielder in order to receive higher bids from abroad, but in the end the 25-year-old forced through his move to the Dragões.
Signed as Raul Meireles’ replacement with Porto, Moutinho played a prominent role in the side that unbeaten throughout the 2010/11 season under Andre Villas-Boas. The former Chelsea manager was pivotal to bringing the midfielder to the Estadio do Dragao and the confidence placed in the dynamo was repaid that season as he made 53 appearances in all competitions.
Villas-Boas’ move to Chelsea saw Moutinho heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, but the move never materialised with the tactician opting to move for Meireles instead. Now expected to take over the managerial hot-seat with Tottenham Hotspur, a move to England has been mooted.
Spurs are looking increasingly likely to sell Luka Modric this summer, with Real Madrid the most likely destination for the Croatia international. With that in mind, the North London giants will be keen on replacing the 26-year-old with a like-for-like signing. Villas-Boas prefers to play a fluid 4-3-3 with one holding midfielder, one deep lying playmaker and one goalscoring midfielder.
His impressive displays during the European Championship saw him complete an average of 82.2% of his passes, not much lower than the 83.3% Modric completed, having played two games more.
Naturally, Modric would’ve slotted effortlessly into the playmaker role, but is now keen on securing Champions League football after Spurs missed out last season. The club could do a lot worse than Moutinho as his replacement and the midfielder himself even admitted he would be happy to work for Villas-Boas again tomorrow.
If a deal could be struck to take Moutinho to White Hart Lane, it would be an excellent coup for the North London giants. His impressive displays during the European Championship saw him complete an average of 82.2% of his passes, not much lower than the 83.3% Modric completed, having played two games more.
In Moutinho, Spurs would be obtaining a midfielder that can play in that deep lying playmaker role that Villas-Boas favours. Furthermore, his versatility ensures he can push further forward into the goalscoring role or drop back to become the holding midfielder. An ideal midfielder for the club, especially if injuries of suspensions begin to mount up.
One concern, however, would be his goal getting capability. In his senior playing career, the 25-year-old has netted just 37 times in 355 appearances, five of which came in the last two years for Porto. Furthermore, he has contributed 42 assists since his debut for Sporting in 2005, adding further weight to argument that he should replace Modric, even if his record doesn’t stand-up to the 26-year-old.
Nevertheless, on the back end of an impressive European Championship, interest in Moutinho is likely to be high. Many are speculating that Porto could command a fee of around €30m for the 25-year-old. Should Villas-Boas indeed take the Spurs job; chances are high that he will move for his compatriot, especially with a replacement for Modric high on the agenda.
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