The striker position has been a contentious issue for the Seleção and its fans over the last several years. Pauleta and Hélder Postiga have taken the mantle and have done reasonably well. But in truth, Portugal has not had a centre-forward of world-class pedigree since the legendary Eusébio.
Fernando Santos has experimented with several players during Euro 2016 qualifying, with few results. U21 striker André Silva could just be the person to solve Portugal’s striker conundrum. The youngster has been prolific at youth level. Now, he is finally seeing some game action with FC Porto’s senior squad.
PortuGoal takes a closer look at Euro 2016 hopeful André Silva.
He began playing football at the age of eight with S.C. Salgueiros, a small club on the outskirts of Porto. At youth level, he was used as a midfielder and a winger at times before making the move to centre-forward permanently.
In 2010, while still part of the club’s youth setup, he led them to a surprising 3-2 victory over FC Porto at Salgueiros’ home ground. He scored a goal in the win. It proved to be a major step forward in his career. He would move to FC Porto’s academy the following year and made his professional debut for the club’s B squad in August 2013.
In 2014, Silva made headlines at the UEFA U19 European Championships, finishing second in tournament scoring with five goals. The highlight was a four-goal performance against hosts Hungary in a 6-1 group stage victory. He would help Portugal reach the final which they lost 1-0 to Germany.
Silva would score another four goals at last summer’s U20 World Cup, before Portugal were eliminated on penalties in the quarter-finals by Brazil. This September, he had a memorable debut for Rui Jorge’s U21 squad, scoring a hat-trick in just under 20 minutes in a 6-1 rout of Albania.
Silva began this season in fine form scoring eight goals in his first eight matches for Porto B, before being sidelined with an ankle injury. He made his debut for Porto’s senior squad in late December in a League Cup match against Marítimo. He played the full 90 minutes and recorded an assist on Porto’s only goal scored by Vincent Aboubakar in a 3-1 defeat.
He has gone on to make several appearances, including in the Primeira Liga, primarily as a substitute. But, he is still looking for his first goal at senior level.
Strengths, Weaknesses and Style of Play
Silva has every tool to be the quality striker Portugal has been desperately looking for. His attributes include excellent speed, physical strength and technical ability, while his dribbling, passing and heading are also impressive.
However, it is his uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time and a cool head to finish chances that makes him a special talent. He has demonstrated he has an innate ability to read the game well.
Silva likes to drop back to midfield to help regain possession. And he often cuts to wide areas in transitions from defence to attack, in order to help out his teammates.
“He possesses a natural ability to immediately control the ball,” his former Salgueiros manager Alexandre Silva told Maisfutebol in 2014. “He has an incredible change of pace, good technique, uses both feet and has excellent instincts when it comes to finishing.”
He remains a possibility for Portugal at Euro 2016 but mainly due to the lack of quality options at the position.
Julen Lopetegui was always reluctant to use him. Now with the Spanish manager gone, Silva should look forward to a clean slate with José Peseiro. At this stage in his career, playing time is crucial for his development.
Needless to say that Portugal's chances of winning a major tournament would be dramatically improved with a world-class striker at their disposal. And André Silva offers the best hope.
Name: André Miguel Valente da Silva
Date of birth: 6 November, 1995 (20 years old)
Place of birth: Baguim do Monte, Portugal
Current club: FC Porto
Portugal caps: 0 (0 goals)
By Rui Miguel Martins