Although Sporting have made a strong start to the league campaign, their good form has been blighted by the spat between coach Paulo Bento and Montenegrin midfielder Simon Vukcevic.
The 22-year-old made a huge impression during his debut season at the club last year, and quickly became a hit with the home support. However, Vukcevic has been kept in reserve by Bento this time around and is not at all happy at being used as a squad player.
He has pledged to depart the club in the January transfer window; with Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers of the Premier Leage already having registered interest in the former Partizan player this summer, Vukcevic could be set for a move to England.
He told the press over the weekend: “Today [against Belenenses] I played more than just four minutes, but I’m not here to talk about the match. It’s very difficult for me, but I’ve decided to leave in December.
“I only wanted to play and help the team to win the championship, but it seems that is a bad thing here.
“Thank you very much to the fans for the support they have always given me, but things can’t continue like this. I hope this is the best solution for Sporting, who I wish all the best for.
“I haven’t got another club yet but I have three months to find one. I don’t want to spend more time not playing.”
Paulo Bento was quick to respond to his charge's taunt, by wryily ignoring the significance of the remark. The two have been at loggerheads for the past few weeks, and Bento was not to be drawn on the issue.
He responded thus: “We are two months from December. The only certainty I’ve got about December is that it’s Christmas day on the 25th. As for the rest I don’t have any certainties.”
Bento acknowledged that places in the first team are hard to come by, and that people will always be disappointed with their standng in the squad.
He continued: “Helder Postiga hit the nail on the head when he said out of a 25-man squad, in a team only eleven could be content, seven half-content and the others are with bad luck. It was always like that in football and this will never change.”
Vukcevic had a series of disciplinary issues at his former club, FC Saturn of the Russian League.