UPDATE (June 6): According to EPM this is happening. We are paying around €15m and Sporting will get 20% of any sell-on fee. Semedo is already in Vila-real, has passed his medical, and a signing is imminent.
Spanish paper AS is reporting Villarreal are interested in Portuguese U-21 international Ruben Semedo, currently a player at Sporting Lisbon. Semedo is a centerback, can alsp play in defensive midfield if needed. According to reports, Villarreal consider him similar to Eric Bailly— fast, agile, aggressive 1-on-1 defender.
AS is saying he would cost €14m, while in addition to Villarreal, there are various EPL sides interested (newly-promoted Newcastle and mid-table contenders West Ham and West Brom also in the mix). In fact, Newcastle were supposedly ready to sign him, but Sporting demanded a 50% of a future sale in addition to the €14m, which is rather steep.
Likelihood: I’m sure we’re interested. The source is good, the money sounds reasonable in today’s market, and the player is already on the Iberian peninsula (and in fact has played in Spain, for Reus Deportiu in the Segunda B in 2014-15; he must have played against our B team then).
But is it likely? Hard to say. Apart from taking Porto loanees, we have not had many players with Portuguese league experience in recent years, and we don’t have a particular relationship with Sporting to call on. I can’t see us agreeing to a 50% sell-on clause, either. Maybe 20%, though.
Semedo could be facing the sort of choice a number of players will face in the modern football world. Do you go to Spain (a league where the top two or three are pretty much predetermined) and play for a team who has a chance to get to Champions League and certainly Europa League? Or do you go to the EPL (a league where there more parity at the top, but still, it’s mostly the same 6-8 teams in the top positions of the table) and play for a club which realistically has a small chance of making Europe?
At one time, moving to a lower-level EPL side seemed to have an advantage in getting you noticed by the Chelseas and Man Uniteds of the world. That isn’t true now—look at Eric Bailly and Gabriel, both plucked from Villarreal.
Speaking of Gabriel, Valencia’s newspaper Super Deporte breathlessly reports that Marcelino’s wish list of signings includes Alphonse Areola, Gabriel Paulista, Denis Suarez, and Luciano Vietto. (I don’t know why Tomas Pina wasn’t included, or Alfred N’Diaye, but maybe they’re saving those up for next week). Sure, Marce would like players he knows but it is a pretty easy rumor to make up, isn’t it?