Deco was one of the big names in the 2019 edition of Soccerex Europe 2019, which is taking place in Oeiras and ends this Friday. In an exclusive interview with Jornal Económico, the former Portuguese international addressed several topics: he argued that big investors should go into Portuguese football to match the financial 'muscle' and that the behavior of Portuguese football leaders has not changed since he was a player. . “Listening to the leaders of the big clubs with a speech denigrating Portuguese football is completely absurd,” Deco points out to Jornal Económico.
Transfer values are growing excessively. Can this be expected to continue in the coming years?
The truth is that football has been growing with great speed and the numbers of transfers have been growing in recent years. Take the case of Raphinha, for example: ten years ago no one would have thought it possible that a club like Rennes would come to Portugal to hire such a player from a Portuguese "big" and for the values that the deal was made. The truth is that the French clubs, in this case, have owners with a great investment power, the Italian emblems once again have an ability to invest out of the ordinary, the English clubs is what you see and the Spanish are very buyers.
What is missing for Portuguese clubs to compete for better players?
It would take a very big return to the level of what are the owners of clubs in Portugal to be able to compete with the purchasing power of other championships. It is true that we have joint stock companies but we have no major investor.
Was it important to change something in club structures to improve squad quality and drag the league more attractive and competitive?
If the tendency of some mutual funds to take over clubs came to Portugal, as is the case outside, it might be possible for the best players to stay longer in our league. Looking back, we see that the last 'big' to keep a team of great players was FC Porto when they had Hulk and Falcao and others for three seasons. SL Benfica have been able to keep the top players within two to three years but this talent retention exercise is not easy to do in Portugal.
Is it a matter of competing for the salary level?
It is not only through salaries that big players remain. The big stars keep on building good squads, with well-delineated designs.
Does the noise around Portuguese football help to capture and retain talent?
When we criticize our football or talk about corruption, it is a huge contradiction to want to sell this product. Listening to the leaders of the big clubs with a speech denigrating Portuguese football is completely absurd. These criticisms are part of the culture of the Portuguese League but in today's world, I cannot criticize myself and at the same time say that I am a good person. We take football debates to the extreme of mistrust and then we want to sell the product…
Going back to the time you played and comparing this period with today, do you notice any evolution in driving in Portugal? Did you learn anything about how to communicate football?
No, I think it's still the same… we sell very badly what we have. But we look at the example of the Portuguese Football Federation and we see an organization that sells its football well.
To give you an example: Does a young Brazilian player emerging in this country still see the Portuguese League as a transition to a stronger league, or is that role now played by other leagues?
It depends on the level of the player, I think. The successful Brazilian player is already very expensive for our market. The truth is that Portugal has lost the ability to pick up these Brazilian players, we lost to other markets and so we have to do a much better job of anticipation. That is why I say that Portuguese football has to reinvent itself. Our middle clubs have to feed the big ones but in a right and balanced way. We have little purchasing power: most Portuguese clubs cannot compete with even one Belgian club, for example. There are things in Portugal that do not understand each other: how can we be happy for the elimination of FC Porto when this is so bad for the UEFA ranking and affects all clubs in Portugal?