After months of discontent, and much more, the players of Sporting Clube de Portugal have begun a mass exodus. Six players, some key to the first team, have rescinded their contracts with the Lisbon based club.
Lisbon rivalry embittered
With Monday's announcement from Bas Dost, something that is of interest to Sevilla, it made it six players already breaking ties with Bruno de Carvalho's club. They are Gelson Martins, Bruno Fernandes, William Carvalho, Daniel Podence and goalkeeper Rui Patricio, in addition to the aforementioned Bas Dost. This list, of players that come with no transfer fee, should prove rather appealing to teams around European leagues.
To add more insult to injury for the Sporting fans, one team in particular is showing a keen interest in this perceived fire sale, Primeira Liga rival, Benfica. An enthusiastic Luis Felipe Vieira, president of Benfica, addressed fans last night at the club's General Assembly and said:
"This year I'm going to do something a little crazy, something that maybe I shouldn't do, but I'm going to do it," before adding, "25 years ago they played with us." This was in reference to the summer of 1993, when Paulo Sousa and Pacheco left Benfica to sign for Sporting.
Fan attack gave players 'just cause'
According to Correio da Manha, the player most likely to make this move is Gelson Martins, who reportedly met with officials from Benfica on Friday. Bruno Fernandes is another of the stars being linked although he has also aroused some interest from Atlético Madrid.
The reason for this exodus is linked back to the attack on the Sporting players which, they claim gives them 'just cause' to hand in their notice. Players have until Thursday to make their case, that is when 30 days will have passed from when the fans broke into their training facilities in Alcochete.
Weeks before those incidents, at the beginning of April, the Sporting president had threatened to suspend 18 players after the first leg of the quarter-finals of the Europa League against Atlético. Relationships have been very strained and manager Jorge Jesus has already left for pastures new.