Opinion: 10 Players Who Could Break Out This Season


We could see big things from Carlos Mane this season.

We could see big things from Carlos Mane this season.

Portugal’s performance at the FIFA U20 World Cup and UEFA U21 European Championships strengthened the perception that Portuguese football is on the ascendency once again.

Andre Gomes, William Carvalho and Bernardo Silva are just some of the players that have established themselves over the past few seasons. The editors of FutebolFactory.com and PortugalFutbol.net have compiled a list of ten players who they think could make a big breakthrough this season. Continue reading

MID-SEASON REPORT: 10 Portuguese Players Who Could Break Out This Season


Andre Gomes has been a revelation this season for Valencia. Photo: John Sibley / Reuters

Andre Gomes has been a revelation this season for Valencia. Photo: John Sibley / Reuters

There is no question that the Portuguese national team is in a transitional phase. The Selecção’s group stage exit in Brazil just reinforced the claim that the squad will look very different in the next few years. There has perhaps never been a time in recent memory when the country has had so many promising young players.

In the summer, we chose ten that we thought would be able to make a positive impact at club level this season. Since then, four of these players have made their debuts for the senior Selecção, to go along with André Gomes and Bruma who had been selected before. This article will look at the progress of each player and will assign them a grade based on their development so far. Continue reading

Bruma Finding Life in Turkey Tough


Bruma - GalatasarayMuch-heralded winger, Bruma has not had an easy time of it in Turkey. After debuting impressively for Sporting during the second half of the 2012-2013 season, Bruma made the move to Turkish giants Galatasaray at the beginning of last season. Since then, the winger has battled with injuries and falls from grace in the team, which have made his time at the club very unstable thus far. There was much hope for Bruma when experienced ex-Italy National Team boss Cesare Prandelli took the helm at Galatasaray at the beginning of the season, but that hope has not been realized as of yet. Continue reading

Opinion: 10 Players Who Could Break Out This Season


Many are looking for Marcos Lopes to have a big season at Lille, where he is on loan from Manchester City.

Many are looking for Marcos Lopes to have a big season at Lille, where he is on loan from Manchester City.

10 Portuguese Players Who Could Break Out This Season

Portugal is once again producing quality young footballers at a scale not seen since the ‘Golden Generation’  that emerged in the late 1990s.

But at no time has there been more Portuguese youngsters playing abroad in Europe’s top leagues. Only three of the ten players on this list will be playing in Portugal this season.

Please note, this list includes only players that have yet to establish themselves as national team players but who we believe can conceivably do so during Euro 2016 qualifying. Both Bruma and André Gomes have received call-ups but have yet to establish themselves as regular players.

Here now is a list of 10 Portuguese young stars to watch this season.

Ruben Vezo , Central Defender, Valencia FC

Last season was probably the best debut season Ruben Vezo could have asked for. He was definitively promoted to Vitória de Setúbal’s first team after two successful seasons with the club’s under-19 side. And it only took him half a season to catch the eye of La Liga giants Valencia.  After making 12 appearances for Vitória de Setúbal , the central defender was off to Spain. Used primarily as a backup at Valencia for the rest of the season, Vezo still managed to appear eight times, scoring once.

This season, under new manager Nuno Espirito Santo,  Vezo should play a more prominent role, especially considering Ricardo Costa and Jeremy Mathieu have left the club. Vezo will now compete with Nicolas Otamendi and Shkodran Mustafi for playing time, two well-established internationals. This is no easy task, but Vezo has the tools to develop into a solid defender. And at only 20-years-old, he has plenty of time to reach that potential.

Raphaël Guerreiro , Left-Back, FC Lorient

Having been born and raised in France, it could be said that Raphaël Guerreiro is a bit different from other players on this list. Born to a French mother and a Portuguese father, Guerreiro’s allegiances thus far lie with Portugal, despite never having played in the Portuguese league. He is already an established first-team player at French side Lorient. Despite having played only one season in top-flight, Guerreiro is already viewed as one of the most promising left-backs in Ligue 1.

It appears that little will change this season, with many touting him for another good campaign. With another successful season under his belt, larger clubs will surely come knocking for Guerriero’s services.  He has reportedly drawn interest from Premier League clubs West Ham and Liverpool . If he can manage to stay healthy, Raphael Guerreiro could be the subject of a bidding war next summer.

André Gomes, Midfielder, Valencia CF

The 21-year-old midfielder began making a name for himself in Benfica’s reserve squad with some dominant performances at the beginning of the 2012-13 season. He would make his senior debut with the club that season in a Portuguese Cup match against  Freamunde, scoring a goal in a 4-0  victory. His performances would earn him some playing time in the Champions League as well.

Gomes has exceptional technical ability and is versatile as well. He played in defensive midfield last season with Benfica, but his attributes are better suited for an attacking role. After being heavily linked with a move to the Premier League in January 2014, his rights were sold to an investment fund for €15 million. Gomes will be part of a resurgent Valencia side this season.

João Teixeira , Midfielder, Benfica

Few would have expected João Teixeira to have been as involved in Benfica’s pre-season as he has been, playing mainly as an anchor man in the midfield. Teixeira made 28 appearances for Benfica’s B team last season, but only 16 of those were starts. Still only 20-years-old, Teixeira has been a welcome surprise in Benfica’s otherwise underwhelming pre-season.

With the team’s first-choice holding midfielder, Ljubomir Fejsa out injured for the foreseeable future, Teixeira is now creating competition for Ruben Amorim.  Benfica manager Jorge Jesus has a history of nurturing young talent, as he did with Andre Gomes. And should Teixeira be given a first-team role this season, look for big things.

João Mário, Midfielder, Sporting Lisbon

João Mário has long been viewed as a top Portuguese prospect. The midfielder has been at Sporting since he was 11-years-old, but has only managed one first team appearance so far. After spending the entire 2012-2013 season playing for Sporting’s B side, João Mário was loaned out to fellow Primeira Liga outfit Vitória de Setúbal for the second half of last season. He immediately earned a regular place on the team and managed to make 15 league appearances.

His performances were enough to earn him the ‘Young Player of the Month’ award for January and February, ahead of the likes of William Carvalho, Ricardo Horta, and Bebe.  João Mário was recalled to the Sporting senior squad this summer and he appears to be in contention for a starting position. His work this pre-season has not gone unnoticed.  Former Sporting midfielder Luis Vidigal delivered a glowing recommendation for the player in a recent interview. ‘ It is only a matter of time before Marco Silva realizes the value of João Mário,’ Vidigal said.

Bruno Fernandes, Attacking Midfielder, Udinese Calcio

Unlike most players on this list, Bruno Fernandes never played for one of the ‘Big Three’ of Portuguese football. In fact, the Udinese midfielder never even played for a club in Portugal’s top division.  The former Boavista youth player accepted a modest offer from Italian club Novara in 2012. He has adjusted well to the Italian game, helping Novara to promotion the following season and earning a move to Udinese last summer.

Fernandes started last season in Udinese’s reserve squad, but eventually earned his way into the starting line-up.  He impressed with his vision, technical skill and creativity, playing mainly in the ‘Number 10’ position behind the striker. Fernandes would make 24 Serie A appearances, scoring four goals.  And he is finally receiving some recognition in his home country, having been selected for the U-19 and U-20 youth squads.

Tozé, Attacking Midfielder, Estoril-Praia

A supremely-gifted attacking midfielder who will be officially on-loan for the next two seasons at Estoril. The 21-year-old is a graduate of FC Porto’s youth academy and has been a regular player for Portugal at every youth level. He was dominant last season playing for Porto’s reserve squad in the Segunda Liga, scoring 21 goals in 40 appearances.

As well as having an eye for goal, Tozé has a well-rounded game. He is technically skilled and is versatile as well. He could play in the centre of the pitch, as well on the wings. He should receive more playing time with Estoril, who will be playing in the Europa League this season. Current manager José Couceiro, did an excellent job with a young squad at Vitória de Setubal last season.  Tozé appears ready to make the next step.

Marcos Lopes, Attacking Midfielder, Lille OSC

Perhaps the most talked-about teenager in world football.  Marcos Lopes first made a name for himself as a Benfica youth player, before leaving for Manchester City in 2011. He would score in his first ever appearances for The Citizens in a January 2013 FA Cup match against Watford, only minutes after coming on as a substitute. He continued his dominant performances for Manchester City’s youth squad.

Lopes played for Portugal this summer at the U-19 UEFA Championships, helping his country to the final where they eventually lost to Germany. An attacking midfielder, with exceptional technical ability and vision, Lopes feels most comfortable on the left side of the pitch. His style of play has often been compared to Ronaldinho.  The 18-year-old will spend this season on loan at Ligue 1 club Lille.

Ricardo Horta, Winger, Málaga CF

19-year-old Ricardo Horta was one of the top revelations last season in Portugal’s Primeira Liga. The supremely talented winger is a former Benfica youth player, who moved south to Vitória Setúbal in 2011. He started playing regularly for the club last season, eventually helping them finishing a better than expected seventh in the league table. Horta would score seven goals for the club along the way.

It came as no surprise when La Liga club Málaga signed him this summer. Horta has not wasted any time impressing his new fan base. He scored a beautiful long-range goal in the pre-season against Australian club Perth Glory in late July. And he has dazzled fans with his exceptional skill, making him one of the top young players to watch this season in La Liga.

Bruma, Winger, Galatasaray S.K.

Once hailed as ‘Portugal’s next big thing,’ Bruma’s career has stalled due to a serious knee injury sustained last January. The timing for the winger’s injury could not have been worse. He was just beginning to find his feet at Galatasaray with a series of positive performances in both the Turkish league and the Champions League.

Bruma was selected to the national team for the first time in October 2013, just a few months  before his injury. Any hopes he had of representing his country at the World Cup were all but finished.  But Bruma is now healthy and back playing football.  He had a positive pre-season, which is something that his new manager  Cesare Prandelli should take note of. At only 19-years-old, Bruma already has the tools to become an elite player and soon.

This article was a collaboration between Rui Miguel Martins of FutebolFactory.com and Sam Biggers of PortugalFutbol.net.

 

 

 

 

Transfer Roundup – 8/4/2014


With the transfer window to close shut in a little under a month and with managers looking to complete their squads as quickly as possible, there is no lack of transfer news. Here’s the latest:

Josue - Porto presentation 2013

Josue to leave Porto, but where to?

After spending only one season at Porto, Josue looks set to leave after it was revealed that he does not fit into Julien Lopetegui’s plans. A departure looks likely, with the midfielder not even present at the squad presentation. Porto are looking to sell the player, with a fee of 6 million euros reported to be their asking price. Lazio and Napoli are both said to be interested in the midfielder, but more recently, newly-promoted french side Metz are touted to be his destination.

Frederico Venancio - Vitoria Setubal

Sunderland interested in Frederico Venancio

Following Vitoria Setubal’s 0-0 pre-season draw with Premier League team Sunderland, Frederico Venancio gained the praise of the English team’s coach. Gus Poyet said after the game that he was impressed with Venancio, who is entering his third full season in Setubal.

Tiago Ilori - Liverpool U-21 2013Deportivo looking to build a Portuguese contingent

Newly-promoted La Liga side Deportivo are reportedly very interested in taking both Tiago Ilori and Ivan Cavaleiro on loan from Liverpool and Benfica, respectively. Ilori appears to be surplus to requirements at Liverpool this season, especially since the arrival of Croatian defender Dejan Lovren. Cavaleiro is also set to be loaned, with Pacos Ferreira, Academica, and Maritimo all interested in the winger’s services.

Hugo Almeida - BesiktasHugo Almeida still without a club

Following his release from Besiktas, Hugo Almeida is still without a club. The experienced Portuguese striker, who has found success in both Germany and Turkey, will surely find a club, but the question remains as to which one. Eintracht Frankfurt and Galatasaray have both been touted as possible destinations, and West Ham is the latest club to show interest in the striker.

Lica - Rayo VallecanoLica joins Rayo Vallecano on loan for the season

Rayo Vallecano has taken Porto winger Lica on loan for the entire season after he was deemed to be surplus to requirements under new coach Julien Lopetegui. Much like Josue, Lica’s future at Porto looks increasingly dim, and it comes as little surprise that this loan was arranged.

Marcos Lopes on the Move?


Marcos "Rony" LopesMarcos Lopes

Manchester City to Porto (loan)?

Manchester City starlet Marcos Lopes has wowed everyone this season with his numbered, yet impressive performances for Manchester City. Only 18 years of age, Rony Lopes (as he’s also called) managed four official appearances for Manchester City’s first team this season, and he didn’t just show up. He impressed. Named captain to City’s U21 squad for this past season, Lopes’s performances were impressive enough to warrant a place in and around City’s first team. Now, only 18 years old, it appears that Marcos Lopes, having already made a handful of appearances for City and debuted for the Portugal U-21 team, is ready for more first team action. Arsenal and Galatasaray are said to be interested in the attacking midfielder, but Manchester City would be foolish to let him go.

It is rumored that Manchester City have thought up a better alternative. City are currently interested in Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala and Fernando. The two players have indicated that they’d be open to a move to the Midlands, and a move doesn’t seem that far off. That is, if they can sweeten the pot enough for Porto. There is no shortage of money at Manchester City, but the club may be looking for additional methods of securing Mangala and Fernando. One bait is sending Marcos Lopes on loan to Porto for the season, a move that would surely be beneficial for both parties.

William Carvalho Called for Play-off


William CarvalhoWilliam Carvalho has earned his first call-up to the Portuguese National Team for the World Cup playoff matches against Sweden on the 15th and 19th. The holding midfielder’s performances this season have been nothing short of spectacular, and many believe that this call is overdue. So impressive are his performances that Barcelona, Manchester United, and Arsenal are all seriously interested in acquiring his services.

The Seleccao face Sweden at home on the 15th, and in Sweden on the 19th. This is a do or die situation for Portugal, with qualification for their eighth consecutive major tournament on the line. Here’s the entire list:

Goalkeepers – Beto (Sevilla), Eduardo (Braga), Rui Patrício (Sporting)
Defenders – João Pereira (Valência), Ricardo Costa (Valência), André Almeida (Benfica), Antunes (Málaga), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid), Pepe (Real Madrid), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahçe), Luís Neto (Zenit)
Midfielders – Miguel Veloso (Dinamo Kiev), William Carvalho (Sporting), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahçe), João Moutinho (Mónaco), Rúben Micael (Braga), Josué (Porto)
Forwards – Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Nani (Manchester United), Varela (Porto), Bruma (Galatasaray), Hélder Postiga (Valência), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Éder (Braga)

U-20 Stars Make Step up to U-21


Tiago Ilori and Bruma - SportingRui Jorge announced his squad for the Portugal Under-21 team on Friday for the team’s matches against Israel and Azerbaijan, and included two of the brightest prospects in Portuguese football at the moment. Tiago Ilori and Bruma, who starred for Portugal at last summer’s U20 World Cup, have made the list, and are in line to make their debut for the team. Tiago Ilori’s good form last year for Sporting and subsequent solid display at the U20 World Cup convinced Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers to splash out over seven million euros for him. Bruma, also a product of Sporting, has similar displays to that of Ilori to thank for his success. Also impressive last season, Bruma picked up the silver shoe at the U20 World Cup, and earned a move to Galatasaray, who paid in excess of eight million euros for him. Both players are enjoying solid seasons thusfar, Bruma in Galatasaray’s first team, Ilori in Liverpool’s youth side, while on the fringes of the first team. Here’s the entire list:

Goalkeepers: Daniel Fernandes (Osnabruck), José Sá (Marítimo), Luís Ribeiro (Sporting)


Defenders: Josué (Vitória Guimaraes), João Amorim (Vitória Guimaraes), Luís Martins (Gil Vicente), Miguel Rodrigues (Nacional), Paulo Oliveira (Vitória Guimaraes), Raphael Guerreiro (Lorient), Tiago Ilori (Liverpool)

 

Midfielders: André Gomes (Benfica), Tó Zé (Porto B), João Mário (Sporting B), Luís Gustavo (Rio Ave), Rafa (Braga), Sérgio Oliveira (Paços de Ferreira), Tiago Silva (Belenenses), William (Sporting)

Forwards: Betinho (Sporting B), Bruma (Galatasaray), Ivan Cavaleiro (Benfica B), Ricardo Pereira (Porto), Ricardo Esgaio (Sporting B)