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From Cristiano Ronaldo to Bruno Fernandes and Tottenham transfer target Pedro Porro

Sporting Lisbon could have had a whole XI of players if they hadn’t sold their superstars in recent years.

The Portuguese side have been renowned for their abilities in the transfer market in recent years, selling developing stars for big bucks to some of Europe’s elite.


Tottenham close in on Porro

However, club bosses might regret not keeping their best players, which could have turned them into one of the best teams in the Champions League.

There have been global megastars who left the Jose Alvalade Stadium, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes, who would make a name for themselves at Manchester United.

But there are also some who have gone through their academy and who have gone across Europe.

Tottenham appear to be next in line and already have Eric Dier, who spent almost 10 years with the club, in their ranks.

Spurs are now closing in on a deal for right-back Pedro Porro after manager Antonio Conte made him a priority.

So what would Sporting Lisbon look like if they hadn’t sold their best players? talkSPORT.com takes a look.

Ronaldo is one of Sporting Lisbon's greatest academy products


Ronaldo is one of Sporting Lisbon’s greatest academy products

Rui Patricio

The 34-year-old is one of Portugal’s most experienced players and has 105 caps with the national team as he left Sporting in 2018 after 18 years at the club.

Three years with Wolves as part of their Portuguese contingent followed before joining Jose Mourinho at AS Roma, where he remains their No.1 keeper.

Patricio moved to Wolves from Sporting

Patricio moved to Wolves from Sporting

Cedric Soares

Cedric rose through the youth ranks at Sporting before joining Southampton in 2015 and establishing a reputation as a reliable full-back.

Arsenal brought the defender on loan in 2020 before making the signing permanent, but have largely played second fiddle, first to Hector Bellerin and now Ben White, along with Takehiro Tomiyasu and a move to Fulham seems on the cards.

Eric Dier

Another to establish himself from Sporting’s academy, Dier moved to Portugal aged seven when his mother was offered a job as head of the hospitality program at Euro 2004.

Tottenham eventually signed the defender in 2014 where he has remained ever since, earning 49 England caps in the process and becoming a key player under Antonio Conte.

Eric Dier: Sportsman

Dier started at Sporting before joining Spurs

Marcos Rojo

Sporting made a handsome profit on Rojo when they sold him to United in 2014 for £16m – two years after signing him from Spartak Moscow for £3m.

Seven years at Old Trafford would follow where he would gradually lose playing time as injuries were also not kind to the centre-back and in his last four years at the club he made just 17 Premier appearances League.

He is now at Boca Juniors where he won a Copa Argentina and a Copa de la Liga Profesional.

Rojo joined United in 2014

Getty Images

Rojo joined United in 2014

Nuno Mendes

As he rose through the ranks at Sporting, scouts reckoned Mendes could be one of the best young left-backs in Europe and it wasn’t long before Paris Saint-Germain made a move.

Initially, Mendes was loaned out before PSG triggered his option to buy.

Now, the 20-year-old appears to be his starting full-back for years to come.

Joao Palhinha

Portugal are usually associated with midfielders and another talent has emerged in the form of Palhinha, who was a revelation with Fulham in the Premier League.

Signing for just £20m, he looks like a bargain for Marco Silva’s men, who have beaten United and Liverpool to the signing.

He has been almost always present in the team this campaign with the Cottagers seventh in the league.

Palhinha impresses in West London


Palhinha impresses in West London

Matheus Nunes

Once labeled ‘one of the best players in the world’ by Pep Guardiola, Wolves pulled off a real coup when they landed Nunes from Sporting in the summer of 2022.

The midfielder is already linked with another exit as both Liverpool and Chelsea are heavily interested in the 24-year-old.

It looks like Nunes is headed for the top.

Nunes has been linked with Liverpool and Chelsea


Nunes has been linked with Liverpool and Chelsea

Bruno Fernandes

Before Fernandes joined United in January 2020, the attacking midfielder scored regularly for Sporting, netting 48 times in 81 appearances.

After moving to Old Trafford he made an immediate impact and scored eight goals in 14 Premier League appearances in the second half of the season.

He remains a key star for the Red Devils, despite a dip in form when Ronaldo returned to the scene at Old Trafford.

Fernandes is one of the best attacking midfielders in the game

Fernandes is one of the best attacking midfielders in the game


Another famous academy product from Sporting, United moved to Nani in 2007 and comparisons to Ronaldo started instantly due to the player’s penchant for sizzling skills and dazzling dribbling.

But Nani was more than just a one-trick pony and was hugely influential during his time at Old Trafford, winning four Premier League titles, two League Cups and the Champions League.

Nani was something of a party player at United

Getty Images – Getty

Nani was something of a party player at United

Raphael Leao

Leao has been one of Portugal’s star performers over the past two years.

He played at the World Cup in Qatar and led AC Milan to their first Serie A title in 10 years.

He comes from Sporting youth training before joining Lille in 2018.

Since then he has become one of Serie A’s finest players and has led to links with Manchester City, Chelsea and PSG, while Sporting will regret the winger leaving on a free.

Leao has been linked with Chelsea since proving his abilities with AC Milan


Leao has been linked with Chelsea since proving his abilities with AC Milan

Cristiano Ronaldo

Considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, Ronaldo is Sporting’s greatest achievement.

His breakout campaign in 2002 led to a move to United the following year after Sir Alex Ferguson was blown away following a friendly between the clubs.

Since then, he has won five Champions League titles, five Ballon d’Ors, seven league titles in three countries and is Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer, as well as the record for most men’s international goals. Of the history.

What Sporting Lisbon could have looked like…


What Sporting Lisbon could have looked like…

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