In the past Iranian players used to be nonexistent in Portuguese football. However, the last few years has seen a steady influx of Persian talent.
Not only have the numbers increased; it is safe to say that Iranian footballers have made a proper mark in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
The player who has put Iran football on the map for fans of Portuguese football the last couple of years is, Mehdi Taremi. The striker was signed by Rio Ave, from the Qatari club Al-Gharafa, in the summer of 2019. He finished the 2019/20 season with 18 Primeira Liga goals, tied with Benfica’s Carlos Vinícius and Pizzi.
Carlos Vinícius won the Bola da Prata trophy as he had played the fewest minutes of the trio, who all had scored 18 goals. Even so, this was a splendid debut season in Portuguese football for Taremi and he was picked up by Porto in August 2020.
After a somewhat slow start, the Iranian national team striker, would move on to become a success at his new club. In his first season he scored 16 goals and provided 11 assists. He was chosen as the player of the month for January by the majority of the coaches.
Mehdi Taremi has been successful playing for the Iranian national team and he has scored 24 goals in 50 appearances. He was an influential force in Iran’s qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He scored the only goal in both of the qualifiers against Qatar 23 March 2017 and against China 27 March 2017. Both matches ended as 1-0 victories for Iran. In the 2-0 victory against Uzbekistan on 12 June 2017 he scored the second goal.
He was selected in the Iranian squad for Russia2018. In the last group match, versus Portugal, he had a golden scoring opportunity in stoppage time with the score tied at 1-1. Luckily for the Seleção, he missed wide left as an Iran victory would have eliminated Portugal from the tournament.
Taremi is far from the only Iranian plying his trade in Portuguese football. The goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh and the centre-forward Ali Alipour both play for Marítimo, who narrowly avoided relegation last season. Amir Abedzadeh is actually the second Iranian goalkeeper playing for the Madeira based outfit the last few years, as Alireza Haghighi had a brief spell at the club in 2016. Alipour made 26 appearances and scored 2 goals for Maritimo last season.
Jafar Salmani was signed by Portimonense 20 December 2020. The left winger appeared in 11 matches and scored 1 goal against Gil Vicente. Even if he hardly featured during the last 6 league matches last season, nobody should be surprised if he gets to play more during the upcoming season. He played 279 Primeira Liga-minutes during the 2020/21 season, so it is not like he spent the entire season on the bench.
Considering that there are currently no Iranians in La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 or Serie A and that Alireza Jahanbakhsh is the sole Iranian representative in the Premiership, it seems safe to conclude that the Primeira Liga is almost becoming a home away from home for Iranian footballers in Europe.