Premier League football clubs are known to have scouts attending a vast number of games across Europe throughout the course of a season but on Friday night, Palace sent representatives to take in a rather random assignment in southern Portugal, watching Boavista’s 2-1 home defeat to Chavez.
Whilst Portugal has carved out something of a niche as a league in which bargains can be sourced for clubs with cash to burn, Premier League sides tend to focus heavily on players on the books of Benfica, Sporting and Porto before casting their gaze elsewhere, making our presence at Boavista all the more intriguing.
The game itself saw the visitors heading home with an unlikely three points after playing on the back foot for the majority of the contest, taking the lead through a Marcão penalty just before the interval and doubling their advantage thanks to striker Ghazaryan in the 48th minute.
Boavista did hit back on the hour mark courtesy of right winger Rochinha but they were unable to regain parity in the time that remained, leaving them down in 14th place after thee first five games of the league season. The question now is, who can the Eagles scouts have been keeping an eye on?
My immediate attention is drawn to the aforementioned Rochinha, not simply because of his goal and Man of the Match display but as a consequence of our obvious desire to bulk up Roy Hodgson’s wide options in the January window. Having tried and failed to bring Bakary Sako back to the club before the final player registration deadline recently, we have been left with a heavy reliance on Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend, making the 23-year-old a feasible transfer target.
There is also a chance we were looking at one or more of the strikers on show but given respective ages of the four men tasked with playing up front for either side (28, 33, 26, 30) I’m struggling to see us being won over by any of them. Far more likely to be the target of our affections was 22-year-old Chavez defender Marcão, who along with his first-half penalty performed impressively at the back throughout.
With eight clearances, two interceptions and four aerial defensive challenges won, the Brazilian-born defender was a rock at the back, highlighting his importance to the side despite his tender age. Having originally moved to Portugal with Rio Ave last season, the 2018/19 campaign is his first on Chavez’s books, with two goals already in five highly impressive appearances.
Although they’re unlikely to be happy about the prospect of parting with him just months after making the signing, Palace could well end up making an offer that’s too good to turn down if they feel strongly enough about his future room for growth.
Watch this space.