On July 6, 2022, French club ES Troyes AC signed a promising winger named Sávio, also known as Savinho. The 18-year-old was seen as one of the most promising players in South America after his dazzling performances with Brazilian side Clube Atlético Mineiro and was signed for €6.5 million with add-ons — a club-record fee. An elusive dribbler, the Brazilian would surely play a vital role for the Ligue 1 side in the coming months.
Fast forward to the present day — September 23, 2023. Sávio has just put in another impressive performance in Girona’s dominant 5-3 victory over Mallorca, scoring and assisting a goal each. He has now scored two goals and three assists through six matches, earning praise for his strong performances.
Thanks to the high-flying Brazilian, Girona FC is undefeated after six games and currently sits second in La Liga. Troyes, meanwhile, are languishing near the bottom of Ligue 2.
It appears Sávio never intended to play for Troyes, and Troyes never had any intention of playing Sávio. The French side is a part of City Football Group (CFG) — a company that invests in soccer clubs from around the world.
Their main club is defending UEFA Champions League winners Manchester City, but CFG also owns clubs in Melbourne, New York, Yokohama, Palermo, and more. In this instance, two clubs they have invested in are involved: ES Troyes AC and Girona FC.
In September 2020, CFG announced they had purchased a majority stake in Ligue 2 side Troyes. This meant that Troyes would receive additional funds and could challenge for promotion, which would mean a return to Ligue 1. However, it also meant that the club would be expected to sign and develop players destined for other CFG clubs — again, preferably Manchester City.
It was expected that Troyes would follow this pattern with Sávio. Paying for his transfer fee relieved other CFG clubs of Financial Fair Play (FFP) concerns — meaning they wouldn’t have to worry about spending more than they earn — and the club would develop the Brazilian before selling him on to another CFG club. However, Troyes immediately loaned out the Brazilian to Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Troyes gave their record transfer little publicity. In a brief statement, it was announced that Sávio had signed a five-year contract that would expire in 2027 and that he would be sent on loan so he would “be able to continue his development” in the Netherlands. That was it. No photoshoots, no statements from the player, not even a picture of him holding up the club’s jersey.
The loan to PSV was an interesting choice. PSV was not a part of CFG, meaning they felt no pressure to develop the Brazilian. They had a stronger side than Troyes, so Sávio almost certainly would have gotten more minutes had he stayed in France.
By the end of the spell, Sávio had made just eight appearances for the first team. Troyes, meanwhile, had a miserable season, winning just four matches and confirming relegation with three matches left in the season.
Any notion that Sávio would play in the French second tier soon diminished, and, in July, Sávio made a loan move to another CFG side — Girona FC. It took little time for him to show his class, assisting the opener in Girona’s second match of the season — he now has five goal contributions in six matches.
With his world-class performances so far, it’s clear that Sávio will never play a minute for Troyes — if it wasn’t obvious already. Troyes, meanwhile, is starting to follow a familiar pattern. Their three most expensive signings (Sávio, Metinho, and Amar Fatah) were all 18 years old now at a different club. In total, those three played a total of 96 minutes for Troyes.
Multi-club ownership has come under fire recently, particularly with RWD Molenbeek’s acquisition of Ernest Nuamah. The Ghanaian teenager was signed for a Belgian-record fee before immediately being loaned to Ligue 1 side Lyon, who had been unable to sign him because of FFP problems. However, the clubs shared an owner, and thus were able to avoid any difficulties.
As for Sávio, he seems destined for great things — they just won’t happen in Troyes.
Image Courtesy of www.gironafc.cat.