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The introduction of Porto’s squad for the new season to fans at the Antas Stadium was overshadowed by two notable absentees – Brazilian strikers Mario Jardel and Leandro Amaral.

Brazilian international Mario Jardel was Europe’s most lethal striker again last season, scoring 38 goals for the Portuguese side, and his departure to Turkish champions Galatasaray has left a gaping hole in coach Fernando Santos’ line-up.

The fans had hoped that Leandro Amaral was the man to fill his compatriot’s golden boots after the club claimed they had bought half of the player’s contract at Sao Paulo side Portuguesa de Desportos. But the player has failed to arrive amidst reports that he is instead bound for Italian side Fiorentina.

Instead the fans were given the familiar faces - Josilan, Fernando Andrade, Ovchinnikov, Pavlin, Pedro Espinha - together with the really old guard of Drulovic, Domingos, Jorge Costa and Paulinho Santos.

The club’s new signings were finally announced – Croatian playmaker Silvio Maric from Newcastle, Russian midfielder Dmitri Alenitchev from Perugia and Spanish striker Juan Antonio Pizzi from Argentine side River Plate.

But even they hardly lifted the subdued air amongst fans who last season saw Sporting Lisbon capture the Portuguese title which had been theirs for the previous five years.

Maric must prove himself after an undistinguished spell in England, veteran Pizzi is seen as no more than a stop-gap following Mario Jardel’s departure and Alenitchev’s final signing still appears in doubt as Perugia keep demanding new financial guarantees.

It is possible that Santos may be able to build a team out of all these names. But it was the one who left, Mario Jardel, and the one who never arrived, Leandro Amaral, who were in everbody’s thoughts at the Antas.
 
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