André Franco: Difference maker?

Porto announced the signing of André Franco last night, the 24 year-old Portuguese attacking midfielder from Estoril. The deal is worth 4m€ for 90% of his sporting rights and he is signing a 5-year deal. Will he be a difference maker?

My initial thoughts: Meh. Not particularly excited about this signing. I don’t remember him from either game against Porto last season, even though he scored a goal from the penalty spot. Maybe that’s unfair, but I recall coming away quite impressed by the goalkeeper Thiago Silva and the left winger Arthur Gomes, for instance.

Franco was an important player for Estoril last season, scoring 11 goals and making 4 assists in 33 league games. It’s a good goal scoring record, but less impressive when you consider that 4 of those 11 were penalties. The season prior, in the second division, he also bagged 4 assists but only scored one goal in 26 games appearances.

Stats aren’t everything of course, but when he is being touted as a potential replacement for Fábio Vieira, his numbers pale in comparison. Fábio managed 6 goals and 14 assists in 34 games, having only started 7 times. That is more than Franco over the last two seasons combined.

André Franco scored from the penalty spot in our 3-2 win at Estoril last season.

In addition, Franco is now 24 years-old. He is not old, but I don’t imagine he will develop much more at this stage. This feels like a decent depth signing, like Eustáquio was, but definitely doesn’t move the needle for me. An expensive substitute at worst or a decent option off the bench at best.

I’m also very puzzled by the timing of this signing. Fábio was sold several weeks ago, so why only now? Why not sign Franco, say, a month ago? I can’t imagine Estoril were holding out for a much higher fee – this is probably the biggest sale in club history (Chiquinho doesn’t count, that was some Jorge Mendes shenanigans). Pre season is over and the league starts on Saturday; Franco will start way behind everyone else. It just doesn’t make much sense.

I hope I am completely off the mark and that he turns out to be an excellent signing. But for now… I’m unimpressed. Good luck André Franco, and welcome to the club.

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