Matheus Nunes insists he always planned to play Champions League football with Sporting Lisbon this season despite reported interest from Newcastle United and Everton, speaking to A Bola.
As Sporting face Borussia Dortmund in tonight’s group-stage clash, the 22-year-old could be forgiven for pinching himself just to make sure it’s real.
Less than two years after joining the Portuguese champions as a little-known youngster from Estoril, Nunes has blossomed into one of the country’s most exciting talents.
There’s a reason Nunes finds himself at the centre of an international tug-of-war between Brazil and Portugal after all.
There was a time in the summer, too, that Nunes appeared to be on his way out of the Estadio Jose Alvalade.
However, the departure of Carlo Ancelotti and subsequent appointment of Rafa Benitez saw a move to Merseyside go up in smoke. Meanwhile, Newcastle also failed to reach an agreement for a player they tried to land in January.
Not that Nunes is too disappointed.
Matheus Nunes confirms ‘speculation’ but ‘nothing came to me’ from Everton or Newcastle
“There was a lot of speculation but information about offers, nothing came to me,” says Nunes, who set up Sporting’s consolation goal in the 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Sebastien Haller-inspired Ajax a fortnight ago.
“About the possibility of leaving or not, playing in the Champions League is always a very big attraction. It was my dream since I was a child.
“But no offer came to me and my focus since the beginning of the pre-season was on Sporting.”
One thing’s for sure, Dortmund coach Marco Rose won’t be taking Sporting – or Nunes – lightly at Signal Iduna Park.
“They are the Portuguese champions, that says it all,” Rose said, via Record.
“They beat Benfica and FC Porto. Of course they have great players (and) a good structure. Nunes is another great player.”