Thanks to a season in which he scored 22 goals in 38 appearances, Porto striker Moussa Marega has begun to be noticed by clubs outside the Portuguese league.
First came two of the Premier League’s usual mid-table suspects, Everton and West Ham. Now, according to newspaper O Jogo (via Sport Witness), Chelsea and Tottenham have joined the chase from closer to the top of the table.
Marega may be a new name to us, but he’s no teenage sensation. Born in the suburbs of Paris, though representing Mali at international level, he began his professional career at a local side before progressing steadily up the French league pyramid, then leaving for the Primeira Liga’s Maritimo before getting snapped up by Porto in January 2016. After scoring just one goal in 13 games for Porto, he went out on loan to Vitória where his 1-in-2 strike rate was good enough to earn him a place back at Porto last season. (That’s how loans can actually work!)
Porto led almost wire-to-wire to win their first league title in a rather unbelievable five years. Marega’s 22 league goals led the team, though the overall team scoring title was taken by strike partner Vincent Aboubakar who tallied 26 in all competitions. Only Jonas and Bas Dost scored more than Marega in the Primeira Liga.
So all that sounds pretty good. What doesn’t is that Marega already celebrated his 27th birthday before Porto confirmed their title. That does make him younger than either of the two players who scored more goals in the league than him, but unless he’s a once-in-a-generation late bloomer like Didier Drogba, it may be just a little too late for his big-money move to the big leagues — Drogba was 26 when he joined Chelsea with just 177 professional appearances to his name; Marega has 186.
Marega would also not come cheap, despite his brief history of actual great success. The upper echelons of the Portuguese league is not the place for bargain hunting, after all. He has a €40m release clause and if history is any indication, Porto will insist on every single last penny of it.
So it is rather difficult to see Chelsea being a serious player in this case. Even Spurs are likely in there just to keep interest high in the striker for any potential transfer or contract negotiations (he has two years to go on his current deal). Unless one of Álvaro Morata, Olivier Giroud, or Michy Batshuayi leave this summer, Chelsea are well set at the position.