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Almost unprecedented: Sporting Lisbon facing exodus, free agent frenzy

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There is an almost unbelievable state of play at one of the world’s most successful clubs right now.

That club is Sporting CP, the group that has been home to Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo, and William Carvalho.

That last name is part of our story today.

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When last we checked in with the Lisbon club, its players had been attacked mid-training session by a mob of supposed fans following the club’s failure to land its near-annual berth in the UEFA Champions League. This came a month after the club’s entire first team was suspended after a row with its president.

Sporting had spent four seasons in the UCL, rebounding from its lone season outside Portugal’s Top Four since 1976.

Now many on its laundry list of high-priced talents could be leaving the club for free, potentially setting one of the most storied clubs in Portugal back to its very roots.

Bas Dost, William Carvalho, Gelson Martins, and Bruno Fernandes reportedly requested to break their contracts on Monday, joining goalkeeper Rui Patricio and Daniel Podence.

Dost scored 27 league goals this season, and joined Fernandes and Martins as Top 15 performers according to WhoScored. Carvalho, the big 26-year-old midfielder, was 21st.

Sporting has done a remarkable job identifying talent from without and growing talent from within, only once spending more than $14 million on a player (Dost) while selling 11 individuals for that much or more (Adrien Silva, Ruben Semedo, Joao Mario, Islam Slimani, Marcos Rojo, Bruma, Joao Moutinho, Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Viana, Aldo Duscher).

Only a cursory search through our pages finds several of Sporting’s want-aways in the gossip section for almost thrice that figure. Carvalho (and/or Sporting) has resisted interest of as much as $50 million, often connected with Jose Mourinho. Dost has been linked with Newcastle, and Patricio said to be making a move to PL new boys Wolves.

To lose these players for free, largely because of an attack from “supporters” is bonkers. And in your gut, you have to think the players stand a very good chance of being allowed to leave for safety reasons, making for an unexpected sort of free agent frenzy.

How long would it take for a club to rebound from that, and how far could Sporting sink on the table? Fortunately, it would have some time to rebuild for its Europa League run, but wow.

Portugal: Fans interrupt Sporting practice, assault players

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese media are reporting that a group of fans forced their way into Sporting Lisbon’s training center on Tuesday and assaulted its players and staff.

Sporting has issued a statement condemning what it calls “acts of vandalism and the attacks on (our) athletes, coaches and professional staff.”

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Public television RTP says that around 50 intruders, who had covered their faces to not be identified, interrupted practice and assaulted a number players and staff. They also trashed a changing room.

Sporting missed out on a Champions League berth for next season after a loss in the last round of the Portuguese league cost it a second-place finish last weekend.

It is preparing to play the Portuguese Cup final against Aves on Sunday.

Watch: Sporting Lisbon midfielder shows off nifty skills

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Marcos Acuna has scored just five goals for Sporting Lisbon, but on Thursday he showed one of the reasons why he was a coveted transfer to the club this past summer.

Facing Astana in the UEFA Europa League, Acuna displayed some incredible footwork and control of the ball, looping the ball over the head of a defender not once but twice in the second half of Sporting’s 3-1 win. It was a bit of street soccer brought onto the field, and it is just beautiful.

Acuna went on to provide the pass that was turned in by Gelson Martins for the game winner.

Watch and behold.

Silva finally debuts for Leicester City

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Adrien Silva‘s been with Leicester City for some time, but neither Craig Shakespeare nor Claude Puel had been able to deploy the Portuguese metronome until Monday.

Silva, 28, played just a minute in a 3-0 rout of Huddersfield Town, but it was a sweet minute after his $30 million move from Sporting CP was axed thanks to paperwork being filed seconds late.

Seconds!

How did it feel to be eligible for duty? Pretty darn good, says Silva.

“It’s been very frustrating, but now the difficult times are past me and now I’m very happy to be close to my goal. I’ve been working hard every day to arrive at this moment and I’m in good shape.

“It’s been very important to keep training because it’s a long time not playing and of course I can work and train more than normal, but there is nothing better than the game.”

Silva wasn’t even allowed to train with the Foxes at the start of the transfer hullaballoo, and the same post claims all of his training for three weeks was done in a hotel fitness center.

Now the EURO-winning Portuguese midfielder can join Wilfried Ndidi in a potent center midfield. Watch out for Leicester if Silva quickly gets his Premier League feet under him.

West Ham may sue Sporting CP over Carvalho transfer

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West Ham has called baloney on Sporting CP’s claims that bids for William Carvalho were manufactured in the press.

The Portuguese powers took shots at West Ham for what it feels was play-acting in terms of interest in the combative Portuguese center midfielder.

Carvalho, 25, has been a transfer rumor mill fixture for some time, and perhaps this story shows us why he hasn’t made the move to West Ham, or Newcastle, or Everton, or Arsenal…

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Anyway, Sky Sports has published photos of emails that Sullivan sent to Sporting, making a $30 million bid on Aug. 11. The bid is shy of Carvalho’s $52 million release clause, but further emails promised bonuses and other add-ons.

Now West Ham is saying it will pursue legal action against Sporting, whose communications director Nuno Saraiva took some adult and below the belt jabs at the Irons’ hierarchy.

Late last week, Sky reported that Sporting called West Ham on transfer deadline day to try and revive the deal, but the Irons said it was too late.