Who is Ruben Amorim? The Chelsea and Liverpool target following in Mourinho's footsteps

Sam McGuire
Sam McGuire
  • 28 Feb 2024 16:15 GMT
  • 5 min read
Ruben Amorim, Jose Mourinho

History is repeating itself.

Back in 2004, a young Portuguese manager was reportedly being courted by both Liverpool and Chelsea having made quite an impression in his homeland. That time around, the Blues won that particular battle, bringing Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge. The self-proclaimed Special One went on to play a key role in Chelsea’s success over the next couple of years.

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This time around, the two Premier League rivals are reportedly assessing the suitability of Sporting CP manager Ruben Amorim. The 39-year-old, who turned out for Lisbon rivals Benfica during his playing career, ended Sporting’s 19-year title drought during his first full season in charge. His side are just two points off the top right now and do have a game in hand.

READ MORE: Latest Liverpool transfer news

Sporting knocked Arsenal out of the Europa League last season and face Atalanta in the round-of-16 this season.

Liverpool are believed to have Amorim on their shortlist of potential successors to Jurgen Klopp, with the German leaving at the end of the current campaign, while Chelsea have reportedly added him to their wishlist following the Carabao Cup loss to the Reds. Mauricio Pochettino has struggled to put his stamp on things since returning to the Premier League and, as a result, Chelsea have struggled for consistency.

The Blues are closer to the relegation zone (15 points) than they are to the top four (17 points). Furthermore, there’s talk that some of their star names are looking at ways to free themselves from the long-term deals they signed with the London-based club. The Chelsea project could be in tatters before it has really had a chance to get underway.

READ MORE: Latest Chelsea transfer rumours

So why are Chelsea and Liverpool, once again, battling it out for the same manager?

Well, Amorim ticks a lot of boxes. The former midfielder has a clear playing philosophy in mind, he has a track record of developing talent and, perhaps the most important part when profiling a manager, he backs himself.

He doesn’t flip-flop, he isn’t reactive and he has a long-term strategy that everything feeds into. There’s a reason Sporting paid £8 million to pry him away from Sporting Braga after just 13 matches as a manager in senior football.

Ruben Amorim has been a revelation at Sporting Lisbon
© IMAGO - Ruben Amorim has been a revelation at Sporting Lisbon

Amorim, who has also been linked with Barcelona following the news that Xavi wouldn’t be extending his contract at Camp Nou, is wed to a back-three system. Sporting tend to use a variation of a 3-4-2-1 shape but the profiles will differ from season to season. For example, they’re now using Viktor Gyokeres as the team’s centre-forward. He is an out-and-out striker whereas Sporting have previously had a false-nine leading their line. Different dynamics, same outcome though - the Portuguese side are fluid and a genuine goal threat.

He’s used destroying ball-players in a double pivot while with the Lisbon-based club. That sounds like a bit of an oxymoron but if you look, he’s had Joao Palhinha, Matheus Nunes, Manuel Ugarte, Morten Hjulmand and Hidemasa Morita at the base of his midfield across his time here. Though most are famed for their tenacity and defensive work, while at Sporting they were all equally as impressive in possession. That side of their game goes under the radar.

He’s made a big thing out of making his wing-backs a key component of his attacking structure too. Pedro Porro was a revelation while with the club. Nuno Mendes really impressed before his move to Paris Saint-Germain. There’s a reason that Iván Fresneda, despite being courted by some big clubs, opted to move to Sporting last summer. He knows he’s going to be developed properly.

The Portuguese tactician also values dominant defenders. Given they play with a back three, his centre-backs are often tasked with defending wider areas and he trusts them to do so. He’s also got two of the most aerial-dominant defenders in the league at his disposal in Ousmane Diomande and Seb Coates. A lot of boxes are being ticked, aren’t they? He seems to understand the important of certain profiles in key areas. In attack, he often uses two creators, almost as dual-10s rather than wingers, behind a No.9. His focal point has changed over the years, as mentioned above with the centre-forward and false-9.

Ruben Amorim is wanted by Chelsea and Liverpool
© IMAGO - Ruben Amorim is wanted by Chelsea and Liverpool

He’s not afraid to give youth a chance. Toward the end of the 2019-20 season, he handed out debuts to Matheus Nunes (21), Eduardo Quaresma (18), Nuno Mendes (17), Joelson Fernandes (17) and Tiago Tomás (18). Sporting banked £92m for three of those while Quaresma is still part of the first-team. He’s helped develop Inacio, Mendes, Nunes, Pedro Goncalves, Porro, Ugarte, Diomande and Palhinha, to name but a few.

Amorim has dealt with adversity. He’s lost key players and had struggles in the transfer market, yet he’s always managed to keep Sporting competitive.

He’s untried and untested in the Premier League but there’s nothing there that makes you think he wouldn’t be able to adapt. He doesn’t seem to be another Andre-Villas Boas.

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