El Centrocampista

The Portuguese connection that Depor hope can make them super again

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Deportivo’s anticipated return to La Liga was met with plenty of reminiscing of their previous sides, particularly the one that overturned  a 4-1 first leg deficit to beat Milan 5-4 in their 2004 Champions League quarter final tie.

Their voyage back to La Liga was fairly straightforward, as they sailed to the title with a record 91 points, but since promotion, it hasn’t been quite as easy. Sunday’s 1-0 win over Real Mallorca was just their second triumph of the season, but the goal was scored by Bruno Gama, a Portuguese winger who scored seven goals last year to help them achieve promotion.

The win now leaves Deportivo just outside the drop zone, but Gama’s compatriots are becoming a key part of the plan.

Gama is one of eight Portuguese players that call Galicia home, alongside Ze Castro, Andre Santos, Atletico Madrid-bound Pizzi, Roderick Miranda, Diogo Salomao, Nelson Oliveira and Tiago Pinto, whilst Brazilian defender Evaldo is also on loan from Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon. The question is, why has there been such an influx of talent from across the border?

Well, it’s all founded on a friendship between Deportivo’s president Augusto Cesar Lendoiro and Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes – the representative of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho and Falcao. Mendes’ first ever move as an agent was with Lendoiro, as he sold Portuguese goalkeeper Nuno to Deportivo and the two men have kept a mutual respect ever since.

Mendes was also a factor in Deportivo’s promotion, as the aforementioned Salomao and Gama were signed last summer, and were vital in helping Depor bounce back at the first time of asking. Now with promotion in the bag, Mendes has been able to tie up deals for some of his clients, including Oliveira, who featured for Portugal in Euro 2012 and is expected to finally be the striker to replace Pauleta for Paulo Bento’s side.

It remains to be seen whether these players will stay with Deportivo in the long term, but it seems incredibly unlikely that Oliveira will find a permanent home with Depor, with some of Europe’s biggest clubs eyeing him up.

Whilst these players may not necessarily be the choice of manager Jose Luis Oltra, the loan players are of a good quality, and Pizzi has already proven himself to be a key player for La Coruna this season, and already has a move to Atletico Madrid arranged for 2013.

Deportivo are looking to return to their former glory, but with Mendes’ help, they’re hoping to stay up through a short-term recruitment method. The plan is to survive this season with the loan players, and hopefully establish themselves as a fixture in the La Liga tables for years to come.

If Depor continue to hover precariously above the dropzone, expect more of Mendes’ clients to make the move to La Coruna in a bid to achieve survival.




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