At the conclusion of the 2018/19 season, Porto had lost their Primeira Liga crown to rivals Benfica by just two points, been defeated in the final of the Taça da Liga, and also saw the Taça de Portugal slip through their fingers thanks to a penalty shoot-out defeat to Sporting CP, who can now claim to have won the trophy on more occasions. It means that the Dragões are left trophyless for the fifth time in the past six seasons
It’s not all doom and gloom for Porto, however, who are seemingly already preparing for a more successful 2020.
Manager Sérgio Conceição and the Porto board have tied exciting 16-year-old youth academy player Fabio Silva down with a new contract, who on June 3 renewed his commitment to the club for an additional three-years, taking him up to 2022.
He was pictured alongside Porto president Pinto da Costa and director of football Luís Gonçalves as he put pen to paper.
Reports from Porto Canal suggest assurances that the young centre-forward will be moved straight up into the first-team after an exceptional ascendancy through the ranks. For the Under-19s, he contributed 33 goals in 39 appearances to go on help the side claim the UEFA Youth League and Portuguese Under-19 League titles. In the Youth League, Silva was involved in nine goals in goal appearances. He finished the Under-19 Championship top-scorer
Becoming renowned for this poaching ability playing in the centre of the pitch, solid hold up play with natural repositioning in the box, comparisons could be made to one Ruud van Nistelrooy - a player who averaged a goal ever 0.59 games.
If any club has benefitted from promoting young talent, but has right to be cautious about it making waves in the market, it’s FC Porto.
Last year their young right-back Diogo Dalot moved to Premier League behemoths Manchester United. The then-19-year-old was reportedly worth £1million for each of his years for the Red Devils, though he had only made seven first-team appearances for Porto, the first coming in the preceding October. Ex-Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho, who signed the defender, called the player the “best young full-back in Europe” at the time.
In March 2019, several months before both La Liga and Liga NOS seasons concluded, Real Madrid acted swiftly to procure centre-back Éder Militão in a €50million deal, becoming three-time Champions League winning manager Zinedine Zidane’s first signing after returning to Los Blancos. This season, despite their second-place, Porto only conceded 20 goals in the league - the best in the division - with Militão being named in the Team of the Month on multiple occasions.
After missing the first three games of the season, Militão became a permanent fixture in the Porto back-line throughout the campaign, missing just two more league games, and even popping up for a goal on several occasions. The 21-year-old defender had begun to attract interest from a host of clubs across the continent - including Man Utd - before Madrid pounced in that sensational deal, becoming Porto’s record departure.
For Fabio Silva, his career acceleration has been undoubtedly impressive but should his profile continue to surge - and indeed if first-team action is on the cards in the near-future - then Porto might once again have a tricky task on their hands to retain his services, or see another one of their young starlets being picked up on the ruthless radars of the European elite.