Portugal have always produced technically gifted players that have succeeded playing in a number of major teams throughout Europe. Eusebio was the first major star to come out of Portugal in the early 60’s as Benfica won two European Cups on the trot. He later went on to become the top scorer in the 1966 world cup finals and his name was forever engraved within Portuguese football history. Portugal did have other stars prior to the arrival of Eusebio in the form of Cândido de Oliveira (who the Portuguese Super cup is named after) and Fernando Peyroteo (who scored an estimated 330 goals in only 197 appearances for Sporting Lisbon), but the man from Mozambique really made the world take note of Portugal.The 80’s and 90’s produced a number of gifted genuinely world class footballers such as Luis Figo, Paulo Sousa, Fernando Couto, Paulo Futre and Rui Costa. These players went onto achieve great things at top clubs – most noticeably Luis Figo (With Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan) and Manuel Rui Costa (With Fiorentina and AC Milan). United were linked many times to both players but neither transfer ever materialized and we’ll never ever know how likely a transfer was.
As we move forward to the present day we have the likes of our very own Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani. Cristiano Ronaldo is technically superior to any youngster in world football, with only Leo Messi of Barcelona and Argentina coming close. He is simply unplayable at times – he can go left, right or through you and he has the physic of a featherweight boxer combined with an Olympic 100m sprinter. Nani is also going to be some player, however maybe not in the same class as Ronaldo. It does take time to adapt to the Premiership and Nani is coping well, however he has big shoes to fill since his fellow countryman’s move to the North West in 2003.
Other talented Portuguese players consist of the brilliant but sometimes inconsistent Ricardo Quaresma, the extremely mature Sporting captain Joao Moutinho who is forever improving in the same way Fabregas is and the talent Manuel Fernandes formerly of Everton and Portsmouth. These are all players who are making a name in Europe for themselves and follow the 1990’s golden generation.
So the point of this post – Are Portugal producing so many gifted youngsters that we should be really trying to obtain even more talent?? Our relationship with Lisbon is well documented and by the summer we may have obtained 3 of their best youngsters in 5 years but can we do even more? The comparison with Holland is due to the amount of technically gifted players that can play in a number of different positions they seem to always produce and the fact that these players fit into a number of teams throughout Europe. Should we be taken more note of these youngsters coming through?
A video has been included below that shows a number of youngsters coming through the Portuguese ranks (You’ll notice the young full back Nelson who scored against us in last season Champions League group game and also the our transfer target Miguel Veloso). Keep an eye out for Fabio Coentrao who in this footage looks a very promising prospect:
Comments are welcome on the players mentioned and do you think we should be stepping up our presence even more in Portugal to obtain this talent?