Two weeks ago, PortugalFutbol announced Part I of the Primeira Liga’s Top 10 Under 24 from last season. In Part I, we announced who were the honorable mentions, and promised the full list to follow. These are ten of the best under-24 Portuguese players from last season playing outside of the “Big Three.” The data has been gathered and the decisions made. Here’s the list. Continue reading
At the end of last season, PortugalFutbol.net outlined the Primeira Liga’s top 5 under-24 Portuguese players playing outside of Portugal’s “Big Three” clubs (Sporting, Porto, Benfica). The purpose of this list was to shed to light some of the league’s lesser-talked about up-and-coming talent. For instance, out of the five players listed in last year’s edition, four of them have made their National Team debut since last season. This year, PortugalFutbol has expanded this list to ten.
For the purposes of brevity, we’ve split this year’s list into two parts. Part I outlines the honorable mentions, while Part II will reveal the actual Top 10 players listing. Continue reading
Recently, rumors have surfaced linking Braga’s Pedro Tiba to a transfer to French side Marsielle. For those who have followed the Primeira Liga since last season, this rumor comes as little surprise. Pedro Tiba has been immense since his debut in the league last season, and his move to Braga this summer and subsequent National Team selection highlight how impressive his performances have been. But just two seasons ago, Tiba was playing in the Portuguese Second Division, which is the country’s third division. Now, he’s a starter for a Primeira Liga team and is being linked to the current Ligue 1 leaders. Let’s take a closer look at his meteoric rise. Continue reading
Some players come into the spotlight because of playing for a big club. Their performances may not be any more noteworthy than other players’, but they continue to get press recognition because of the club that they play for. As a result, there are sometimes players whose solid performances fly under the radar; players who do not get as much hype. In Portugal, there has become a domination from teams known as “The Big Three.” Made up of Sporting, Benfica, and Porto, the “Big Three” has not been as clearly defined in recent seasons (Pacos Ferreira finished third in 2012/2013, Braga has risen to prominence, as has Estoril). This past season, however, “The Big Three” were back again with Benfica finishing 1st, Sporting 2nd, and Porto 3rd. As stated above, players from clubs outside of the “Big Three” in Portugal sometimes don’t really rise to prominence until they earn a move to one of the “Big Three” or abroad. That’s not to say their performances aren’t worthy of recognition. So, Portugal Football has decided to list the…
Top 5 Under-24 Liga Zon Sagres Players from the 2013/2014 Season…Outside the “Big Three”
The very fact that Joao Mario tops our list despite only spending half of a season at Vitoria Setubal says a lot. A center midfielder by trade, Mario is widely regarded as one of Portugal’s top prospects. In his 15 league appearances for Setubal, Mario helped his team to notable draws against Benfica and Sporting, and played a large role in the team’s impressive season. His performances were impressive enough to earn him a starting spot with the Portuguese Under-21 team and a role in Sporting’s first team for this season.
The oldest on our list, Andre Andre has become an irreplaceable part of Rui Vitoria’s side. Andre has garnered attention abroad from his performances this season, and it comes as no surprise. The center midfielder made 37 appearances in all competitions, leading the team through a campaign both in the Liga Zon Sagres and the Europa League. Dinamo Zagreb are said to be interested in Andre, but if he gets another solid season under his belt, there will likely be larger clubs interested.
Bebe was the laughing stock of English football after his ill-fated move from Vitoria Guimaraes to Manchester United in 2010. And to a certain extent, he still is. But not in Portugal. Bebe was on loan this season at Pacos Ferreira from Manchester United. Though the side struggled, barely managing to avoid relegation, Bebe shone. The Manchester United man struck 12 times for the team in only 27 appearances. These statistics are even more impressive when you consider that he scored these from his primary position out wide. His scoring exploits made him the highest scoring Portuguese player in the league last season, and Manchester United have opted to take him on their pre-season tour most likely as a result of his performances. But Manchester United will have to fend off interest from Benfica, who are reportedly very interested in acquiring his services.
Last season was possibly the best debut season Ricardo Horta could have hoped for. A product of both Benfica’s and Vitoria Setubal’s youth setups, Horta was promoted to Setubal’s first team this season. After impressive performances early in the season, Horta was awarded a starting spot and never looked back. Finishing the season with seven goals in 34 appearances on the wing, Horta was named to the Portuguese Under-20 team’s Toulon Tournament squad, scoring the deciding goal in the third place match against England. Malaga are said to be very interested and extremely close to signing the player, and it comes as no surprise. And he’s only 19!
A product of Benfica’s famed youth academy, Danilo Pereira first rose to prominence at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup, where he performed admirably in Portugal’s midfield, helping them to a second place finish. A move abroad ensued, and after some more spells abroad, Pereira ended up at Maritimo last season. Pereira appeared 28 times for the Madeira-based club, helping them to a mid-table finish. His performances drew the interest of Sporting, who many speculate see him as the natural successor to William Carvalho.
The transfer window was unusually quiet this winter in Portugal, as it was all around Europe. Despite the lack of activity, some potentially major moves did occur. These players all have the capability to be important players for their new clubs in the near future.
Yannick had been without a club since his failed transfer to French club OGC Nice from Sporting Lisbon. The winger/striker’s skill is undeniable, but his consistency certainly is lacking, as he showed at Sporting. Yannick was reportedly close to a move to Porto and a trial at Aston Villa, but neither moves materialized. Benfica promptly snapped up the forward on deadline day, and he has already made his debut, in the League Cup.
Daniel Fernandes has performed well when given the chance to succeed. When he played in Greece, he was extremely successful. His time more recently in Germany did not go as planned, and a move to Romania looked to increase playing time. Things did not go as planned once again, and after making just two league appearances for Cluj, Twente promptly snapped up the experienced goalkeeper on a free transfer. It may take a lot to dislodge the current Twente goalkeeper, but Daniel Fernandes will work through it, just as he has before.
After his release from Bolton in 2010, Vaz Te looked set for a career in the lower leagues of Greece, Cyprus, or Romania. After two unsuccessful stints in Greece and Scotland, Vaz Te was signed on a free by Barnsley. Not much was expected of the striker, but after ten goals in twenty-two appearances, that all changed. West Ham, who look certain for promotion, promptly snapped up the striker from Barnsley, after Vaz Te had only spent half a season with them. The striker has already made his debut for the club, and looks set for a successful last half of the season with what is a very talented squad.
At the age of just 18, Joao Carlos was called up to Sporting’s first team at the beginning of this season. He trained with the squad throughout the pre-season, but rejoined the Under-19 team, as did many players, once the season was underway. The center midfielder, who has been compared to Deco, was an integral part of the Sporting U-19 team that decimated all opposition in the group stage of the Next-Gen Series. One of his finest performances came when the squad travelled to Liverpool. The midfielder bagged a wonderful goal, and his performance must have caught the eye of Liverpool first-team manager, Kenny Dalglish, who promptly signed him at the next possible opportunity: the January transfer window. Joao Carlos will now join Liverpool’s reserve team, and hope to win a starting spot in Liverpool’s first team in the future.
After multiple seasons of solid performances, Abel Camara finally made the step up from the Liga Orangina to the Liga Zon Sagres. Already a regular for the Belenenses team and the Portuguese Under-21 Team, Abel was a well-established striker in Portugal. Now, he has the opportunity to prove his skills on a bigger stage for Beira-Mar.
Real Madrid central defender, Pepe, is reportedly a transfer target for Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Barcelona, after contract discussions have slowed. Pepe wants his current salary to be more-than tripled to a 6 million euro per year deal. Real is only willing to offer him five, so the negotiations have stalled. Manchester United are looking for an experienced replacement for the injury-prone Rio Ferdinand. Manchester City are interested in everyone at the moment, but the citizens may be one of the only clubs that can meet him financial demands. Pepe has been at the heart of the Real Madrid defense this season, forging an iron-clad partnership with Ricardo Carvalho. With Pepe’s contract set to expire in 2012, it may be the time for him to leave.