Luis Diaz, Fabio Vieira, Hulk: Porto's epic XI if they had kept their best players

Luis Diaz at Porto

It’s been 18 years since a Jose Mourinho-inspired Porto side shocked Europe by lifting the 2003/04 Champions League trophy.

The reigning Primeira Liga champions also tasted continental glory seven years later when they won the Europa League in 2011.

However, over the last decade, Porto’s standing among Europe’s elite has diminished significantly.

Routinely cashing in on their top players, the Dragões have typically struggled against top-tier opposition in recent seasons.

Porto look set to boost their bank balance once again, accepting a £35 million offer from Arsenal for playmaker Fabio Vieira last week.

Realistically, financial constraints mean that the club can’t compete with Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues when it comes to wages, meaning supporters have become used to seeing incredible talent depart the Estádio do Dragão.

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To prove this point, we’ve assembled a full XI full of former Porto players – and it looks pretty sensational.

This side almost certainly wouldn’t be bowing out in the group stages of the Champions League…

Porto’s unreal XI if they hadn’t sold their best players

GK: Jose Sa

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ first-choice shot-stopper played 27 times for Porto before departing for Molineux in an €8m deal in July 2021.

LB: Alex Sandro

Brazilian international Sandro joined Juventus in August 2015 for €26m. He’s since gone on to make over 270 appearances for the Serie A giants.

CB: Nicolas Otamendi

Now back in Portugal with Benfica, Otamendi left Porto for Valencia in 2014, making the La Liga Team of the Season in his first campaign with the Spanish side.

The Argentine then went on to lift two Premier League trophies at Manchester City.

CB: Eder Militao

A pair of La Liga titles and a Champions League triumph isn’t a bad start for Militao to his Real Madrid career. The Brazilian has already repaid a sizable chunk of the €50m transfer fee that Los Blancos paid to Porto in 2019.

Eder Militao in his Porto days
PORTO, PORTUGAL – NOVEMBER 28: Eder Militao of FC Porto celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between FC Porto and FC Schalke 04 at Estadio do Dragao on November 28, 2018 in Porto, Portugal. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

RB: Danilo

Another former Porto full-back currently at Juventus, Danilo has won La Liga, Premier League and Serie A titles since leaving Portugal in 2015.

CM: Ruben Neves

Neves has played more than 200 times for Wolves since joining from Porto in July 2017 – and has frequently been linked with moves to one of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ clubs in recent years.

CM: Joao Moutinho

Moutinho left Porto for Monaco in 2013, as part of a player-plus-cash deal also involving James Rodriguez.

Like Neves, Moutinho has been a key part of Wolves’ midfield for several seasons now.

Joao Moutinho at Porto
PORTO, PORTUGAL – AUGUST 19: Joao Moutinho of FC Porto in action during the Portuguese Primeira Liga match between FC Porto and Gil Vicente FC held on August 19, 2011 at the Dragao Stadium in Porto, Portugal. (Photo by Bruno Pires/EuroFootball/Getty Images)

AM: Fabio Vieira

The deal isn’t officially done yet, but as Porto have confirmed it, we’ve included Vieira in this line-up. Time will tell how the attacking midfielder fares at the Emirates. Gunners fans, though, are undoubtedly delighted at the prospect of his arrival.

LW: Luis Diaz

One of the greatest January signings in Premier League history, Porto must wish they’d asked for more from Liverpool than a €45m upfront fee (plus €15m in potential add-ons) for the Colombia winger’s services.

Porto's XI without selling their best players

RW: Hulk

He might be 35 years of age now, but the Brazilian forward still has plenty in his locker.

Zenit forked out a massive €60m to persuade Porto to part with their star man in 2012. He’s scored goals everywhere he’s played since too.

Now back in his homeland with Atletico Mineiro, Hulk recently went viral after scoring an absolute rocket of a free-kick against Santos.

CF: Radamel Falcao

Once one of the most feared strikers on the planet, Atletico Madrid made Falcao the most expensive signing in their history in 2011, splashing out an initial €40m on the then-Porto player.

While he’s no longer as prolific as he once was, Falcao still plays top-flight football with Rayo Vallecano in La Liga.

Surrounded by some seriously creative players, we reckon he’d would score a few in this XI.

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