Sporting Lisbon's Islam Slimani is a target for several Premier League clubs

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Sporting entered the 90th minute of their away match against Arouca knowing that their grip on top spot in Portugal was under severe threat.

The Lisbon-based side had failed to create any clear cut chances against a dogged Arouca team who were content to throw men behind the ball and pin their hopes on occasional counter-attacks.
What Lito Vidigal's men lacked in ambition they made up for with passion. So much so that tempers flared as the game moved towards its conclusion with Vidigal entering the field of play to shove Sporting centre-back Naldo. 

The Brazilian defender returned the favour with a push that sent the home side's manager into a elaborate fall, getting both sent off and earning their place in upcoming YouTube football bloopers compilations.


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Right place, right time

After several minutes both benches settled down and it was back to the action on the field. 
Sporting launched a late long ball into the path of substitute Freddy Montero on the edge of the box, before he sneaked the ball into the path of Islam Slimani, who poked the ball home for an injury time winner.

It sparked joyous scenes as the away supporters, who filled the majority of the ground, celebrated their team keeping their five point lead over second place FC Porto heading into the international break.

And they'll have another determined Slimani performance to thank. 

The Algeria striker has been a constant nuisance for opposition defences all season with his combination of strength, resilience and heading ability giving Jorge Jesus' men a reliable focal point in attack. 

Making the difference

The 27-year-old has netted seven times in ten games this season putting him only behind Benfica's Jonas in the top scorers chart.

Slimani's league goals have shown his ability to score everything from the scruffy to the sublime, demonstrating a chameleon-like adaptation to the opposition's strengths.

But perhaps the Algerian's most redeeming quality is his work rate. Despite not relying on pace, the former CR Belouizdad front man has shown a selflessness for the team by constantly pressing centre-backs and chasing lost causes.

It's an infectious attitude which has helped Sporting remain unbeaten in the league this season as they chase a first league title since 2002.

Reap what you sow

The fear for Jesus now will be losing his talisman striker. 

Despite having a productive academy and having brought in the likes of Bryan Ruiz and Alberto Aquilani to guide and mentor the younger players over the summer, there's no direct replacement with the robust qualities of the Algerian.

As the January transfer window approaches, Sporting will be hoping reported Premier League interest from West Ham, Leicester City and recently Tottenham doesn't lead to anything concrete.

Failure to keep Slimani could cost Sporting the title.

Will Slimani be a Premier League player before next summer? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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