Andre Carrillo could derail Sporting Lisbon's season

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A storm is brewing at Sporting.

Andre Carrillo, one the team's standout performers this season, has been suspended by the club after refusing to sign a new contract and 'intentionally damaging the club', according to the Sporting hierarchy.

The Peru international, who has drastically improved in Lisbon over the last 12 months, has brought an increasingly effective combination of pace and creativity to the Leoe's attack, which will be hard to replace internally.


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According to the club, nearly 18 months of contract talks led to an agreement in principle in August only for the 24-year-old to then refuse to sign the deal. The club also accepted an offer from Leicester City on deadline day only for the winger to reject a move.

Sporting president Bruno de Carvalho is a no-nonsense figure when it comes to protecting what he feels are the interests of the club, and by removing Carrillo from the first team picture, sends a clear message: no one is bigger than the club.

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The 43-year-old businessman is also involved in a bitter legal dispute with a private equity fund over the sale of Marcos Rojo to Manchester United, and is an outspoken critic of third-party player ownership.

However, it's the team's on-field performances that'll ultimately dictate if De Carvalho's stewardship is a success, and that means manager Jorge Jesus has to quickly overcome the loss of one of his first team regulars.

The former Benfica coach was quick to remind reporters that he's lost his best players before, and it's hard to argue against a man who brought unprecedented success to the red half of Portugal's capital.

Jesus and De Carvalho will be heartened by the latest in the conveyor belt of talent coming out of Sporting's famed Academy.

The 61-year-old coach has handed a place in the first team squad to Cape Verde-born winger Gelson Martins, and 19-year-old Matheus Pereira midfielder made his debut in the 1-1 Europa League draw at Besiktas last week.

But in order for Sporting to challenge on all fronts they need to keep hold of their established players, before selling them on for big profits off the back trophy-winning seasons.

Sporting's 5-1 demolition of Vitoria de Guimaraes put them joint-top of the league and suggests a Carillo-less squad can still compete and challenge domestically.

But the real test will come when Sporting have to face their direct rivals. For all the promise shown by Martins and Pereira, Sporting need to make sure they create an environment where no stars want to leave if they're to end their 14-year Primiera Liga title drought.

They're close, but not quite there.

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