As the summer transfer window dust begins to settle, European teams can finally nestle into their seasons with their filled out rosters. With 16 of the 23 members who made up Portugal’s Confederations Cup squad playing their trade outside of Portugal, it is imperative that the Portuguese abroad have a strong season as the team prepares for the World Cup next summer. For this fourth installment, Portuguese playing in France will be highlighted. To see an updated list of all Portuguese players playing abroad, visit out Portuguese Players Abroad page.
Perhaps the most intriguing group of young Portuguese plys its trade in France. Lille claims the pair of Edgar Ié and Xeka. Edgar Ié is another center back aspirant who has genuine potential. The former Belenenses man has had a rough start to his career, being frequently hampered by injury. However, he seems to have found a good fit in Lille and has already put in Man of the Match worth performances this season. Xeka has been loaned to Dijon for the season which hopefully gives him a better opportunity.
Defending champions Monaco have had an eventful offseason as they unloaded many of their stars from last year. Still, they have held on to two Portuguese in Rony Lopes and João Moutinho. Lopes was once considered the next world superstar to come out of Portugal, but his career has not taken off the way he had hoped. Nevertheless, he is still very young and is returning to Monaco off a successful loan spell at Lille last season. Monaco seem to be keen on Lopes developing into a starter for them, he still has time to become a Portugal regular.
While Rui Patricio does seems to have the starting goalkeeper spot locked up for Portugal, somebody who is not far behind is Lyon’s Anthony Lopes. He has established himself as one of the best keepers in Ligue 1 and may yet have a future in Portugal’s goal as he is a few years younger than the current starter. Rounding out the Portuguese contingent in France is young Guingamp defender Pedro Robocho, Marseille’s Rolando, Montpellier’s Pedro Mendes and Afonso Figueiredo of Rennes. While the window to break into the national team squad has come and gone for most of these players, one to keep an eye on might yet be Pedro Mendes.
The need for a significant Portuguese center back has been one of the themes of these articles, and Santos needs to monitor all available choices as he moves on from the current aging pair. Mendes seems to have locked down a starting place as has been improving every year. Center backs have a longer spell in their prime than other positions and should be allowed more time to develop. You have to look no further than Portugal’s José Fonte, who did not make his senior debut until the age of 31, and went on to help Portugal win the European Championship. While not a current stand out player, Mendes is worth a look this season.