One of the most successful clubs in the history of Portuguese football, FC Porto have won 76 major trophies since the club were founded in August 1906, including a record 28 Primeira Liga titles.
Their unprecedented success over the years is built upon the foundation of the Dragons’ youth academy and astute scouting network which has enabled them to stay competitive despite having their best players taken away by the European elites.
Over the years, Porto have produced and groomed various talented players, many of which still ply their trade at some of the top clubs in Europe.
That being said, what if the Portuguese club never had to sell their best player, how would their current team look like?
Here is how Porto’s playing XI would look like if they didn’t sell their star players.
Brazilian custodian Fabiano played for Sao Paulo for the majority of his career, although he only made one senior appearance for the club as he was sent out on loan multiple times until 2011 when he moved to Portuguese club Olhanense.
Porto signed him one year later, and since then, he played for the Dragons 73 times across all competitions.
The 32-year-old kept 44 clean sheets during his tenure at the Estadio do Dragao. Currently, he is with Cypriot club AC Omonia, having joined them ahead of this season.
After making a name for himself with legendary Brazilian club Santos, Danilo joined Porto in 2012, and soon became a mainstay in the team. Although his time in Portugal was short-lived as Real Madrid swooped him up just three seasons later.
There, Danilo failed to have much of an impact, and subsequently, the right-back was shipped off to Manchester City in 2017.
In the Premier League too, the 28-year-old was a benchwarmer at best, although he joined Juventus ahead of the current season, as part of an exchange deal which saw Joao Cancelo move to the Etihad.
Nicolas Otamendi (Centre-back)
Speaking of the Etihad, another former Porto player currently on the books of Manchester City is Nicolas Otamendi. After impressing with Argentine club Velez Sarsfield, the 32-year-old joined the Dragons back in 2010.
After making 125 appearances for the club, he signed for Valencia in 2014 and impressed so much in his one year stint with the La Liga side that Manchester City roped him in 2015. Till date, Otamendi has racked up 205 appearances for the Sky Blues.
The Portuguese centre-back who is infamous for his temper and reckless defending style was on the books of Porto for three seasons between 2004 to 2007.
Later, he made the step-up to Real Madrid and spent a decade with the Los Blancos, winning numerous trophies, before leaving for Turkish club Besiktas in 2017.
After two seasons, he returned to the Estadio do Dragao ahead of this season and racked up 31 appearances till date across all competitions.
Alex Sandro (Left-back)
Before becoming the pillar of Juventus’ defence, Alex Sandro plied his trade for Porto after impressing with various Brazilian clubs. The Dragons snapped him up in 2011, and he continued to progress at such an astonishing rate that the Old Lady signed Sandro in 2015.
The 29-year-old has since made over 190 appearances for the Turin-based club, winning a plethora of trophies with Juventus.
Joao Moutinho (Central midfielder)
One of the best Portuguese midfielders of the current era, Joao Moutinho began his career with the academy of Sporting CP and made his first-team bow in 2005. Five seasons later, he left them to join rivals, Porto, helping them win three consecutive league titles since 2010.
In that period, Moutinho won various other domestic cups as well, and the Europa League as well, after which he signed for Monaco in 2013.
After five successful seasons with the Ligue 1 side, the 33-year-joined Wolves in 2018, and has since made 91 appearances for the Premier League team contributing two goals and 21 assists till date.
Ruben Neves (Central midfielder)
The youngster, who is currently Moutinho’s teammate at Wolves, began his playing career with the youth academy of Porto, and rising through the ranks.
Ruben Neves made his first-team debut in 2014, and after earning 93 caps for the Dragons, he joined moved to the Molineux Stadium in 2017.
The Portuguese midfielder has been a mainstay for Wolves ever since, making over 125 appearances.
James Rodriguez (Attacking midfielder)
James Rodriguez announced himself to the world in the 2014 World Cup with a talented Columbian side, but before that, he had already played for Porto, from 2010 to 2013.
That’s when Monaco gambled on him, and they were paid handsomely for that move by Real Madrid, who signed James in 2014, but his career has stalled since moving to the Bernabeu.
Blessed with a wand of a left-foot, the 28-year-old has struggled for game time in recent years and is now being linked to multiple clubs including Atletico Madrid and Everton.
Ricardo Quaresma (Left-winger)
Ricardo Quaresma belongs to that rare breed of players who actually play better for the national team in comparison to their club sides.
He’s got an impressive CV, having represented all of Barcelona, Inter Milan, Chelsea, besides having spent two separate stints with Porto, between 2004-2008, and 2014-2015.
Quaresma joined Besiktas after 2015 and is currently playing for Turkish club Kasimpasa.
Another Brazilian talent who hogged the limelight during his four-year stint with Porto, Hulk arrived at the Dragao in 2008 and won 11 major trophies with the club.
In 2012, he left for Zenit Saint Petersburg on a hefty contract and after four seasons with the Russian club, Hulk joined Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG in 2016.
Known for his blistering pace and neat dribbling skills, Hulk in his prime, was a delightful player to watch.
Radamel Falcao (Striker)
Radamel Falcao became a worldwide name during his stint with Atletico Madrid, but before that, he had already spent two seasons with Porto from 2009 to 2011, winning six trophies in the process.
Later, he played for Monaco, whilst also spending time on loan at Manchester United and Chelsea although the striker is currently on the books of Galatasaray since the start of 2019-20 season.
Here’s how Porto would lineup if they didn’t sell their star players:
All stats courtesy: Transfermarkt.co.in