Portuguese Primeira Liga team of the 2023/24 season

PortuGOAL writers select their best XIs

On Saturday night the curtain came down on another Primeira Liga season. Sporting were crowned champions, Benfica runners-up, Porto securing a podium finish in the final round of matches.

At the bottom, Chaves and Vizela were relegated, while Portimonense will dispute the promotion/relegation playoff against AVS.

But who were the standout performers from an individual point of view?

PortuGOAL’s writers select their 2023/24 team of the season. 


Mathew Marshall’s 2023/24 team of the season

GK Kewin (Moreirense): Kewin kept 13 clean sheets in 30 appearances, level with Anatoliy Trubin and one behind Diogo Costa. Allowing just 34 goals for a promoted club is an exceptional achievement.

RB Costinha (Rio Ave): Costinha has been consistent this season and one of the reasons why Rio Ave were hard to beat. Earned a move to Olympiakos while Carlos Carvalhal was briefly in charge, it’s surprising teams like Braga and Vitória de Guimarães were not interested.

CB Aderllan Santos (Rio Ave): Aderllan Santos is the heart of Luís Freire’s side, the 35-year-old leading from the back and holding the defence together. One of the most enjoyable players to watch in the Primeira Liga.

CB Sebastián Coates (Sporting CP): A key player for the Lions and one of the reasons why they won the Primeira Liga. Much of the discussion revolves around the attack and Viktor Gyökeres, but Coates has been an unsung hero this season.

LB Nuno Santos (Sporting CP): Santos has owned the left side for Sporting, a tireless worker who may not be an exceptional defender, but more than makes up for that at the other end where he registered four goals and 10 assists in the Primeira Liga this season.

DM Morten Hjulmand (Sporting CP): Hjulmand does what all good defensive midfielders do, keep it simple. Another big reason why the Lions won the title, he also showed an ability to pop up with goals and assists around the box.

CM João Neves (Benfica): João Neves goes from strength to strength, the 19-year-old already an important player for Roger Schmidt’s side. Has a lot of improving to do, but his all-action approach in the engine room is what every team needs.

CM Pedro Gonçalves (Sporting CP): Pote’s versatility has been used to full effect this season, scoring 18 goals and registering 14 assists in all competitions. Able to play in midfield or on the wing, his passing range, vision and intelligence ranks him as one of the best players in Portugal.

RW Francisco Trincão (Sporting CP): Trincão became indispensable for Rúben Amorim after going on a tear in January, forcing his way into the starting side ahead of Marcus Edwards. Playing with swagger and a smile on his face, Trincão’s interplay with Viktor Gyökeres and Pote has been a joy to watch.

ST Viktor Gyökeres (Sporting CP): The Swedish striker has made a fool out of plenty of scouts and recruitment departments, the Lions paying Coventry a bargain price of €21m for the 25-year-old beast. Scoring 40 goals and contributing 12 assists in all competitions, this one was a no brainer.

LW Galeno (Porto): Sérgio Conceição’s side struggled this season, and their predicament would have been far worse had it not been for Galeno. The Dragons’ most dominant weapon without a doubt, he ended up with 16 goals and 10 assists.


GK Diogo Costa (Porto): Costa’s form has mirrored Porto’s for much of the season, but he is still Portugal’s best goalkeeper and will continue to start for the Seleção.

CB Otávio (Porto): Porto paid Famalicão €12m for the 22-year-old and it already appears to be money well spent. With Iván Marcano and Pepe getting on in age, David Carmo departing and Zé Pedro called into the team to partner Fábio Cardoso, Otávio is set to become the dominant centre back for the Dragons.

LB Wendell (Porto): Wendell has taken a step up this year which came at a good time for Sérgio Conceição as Zaidu Sanusi hardly featured due to injury. The 30-year-old earned his first two caps for Brazil in March and we could see his best days ahead of him.

CM Mateus Fernandes (Estoril): Estoril have disappointed this season, but Mateus Fernandes has been one of their best and most consistent performers. The 19-year-old has become an important player for Rui Jorge’s U21 side, the Sporting Clube de Portugal loanee with some big decisions to make regarding his future.

AM Rafa (Benfica): Rafa had a very productive season for the Eagles, ending with 22 goals and 12 assists, mostly from attacking midfield. Has limitations that have been evident throughout his career, but Benfica supporters should be sad to see him leave.

RW Ángel Di María (Benfica): It was obvious in the first game of the season that the World Cup winner was going to be a key player for Roger Schmidt. An annoying player alongside compatriot Nicolás Otamendi, but his talent with the ball is undeniable.

ST Simon Banza (Braga): Banza was threatening to finish as top scorer in the Primeira Liga, missing six matches due to the Africa Cup of Nations and being shut down towards the end of the season with a transfer imminent. Ended with 21 goals in 2002 Primeira Liga minutes this season, a ratio on par with Gyökeres.


Tom Kundert’s 2023/24 team of the season

GK: Ricardo Velho (Farense): Farense made their return to the top flight, the Algarve outfit never even flirting with relegation, remaining competitive from start to finish, especially at the São Luís stadium, and their superb Portuguese goalkeeper was a big reason why. The 25-year-old is at a prime age to enter the best years of his career, and his performances this season will surely have piqued the interest of bigger clubs at home and abroad.

RB: Rodrigo Gomes (Estoril Praia): An adapted winger, the 20-year-old Braga loanee has been exceptional all season, bringing an attacking vivacity and unpredictability to Estoril’s game that saw him become the standout performer in a team packed with exciting talents. This was the most difficult position for me to select, with Rio Ave’s Costinha and Sporting’s Geny Catamo also enjoying brilliant seasons, but Gomes’ 9 goals and 8 assists swayed it.  

CB: Sebastián Coates (Sporting): Just like in Sporting’s championship winning season in 2020/21, the captain led his team superbly, marshalling the defence with authority, remaining calm in all situations, and often at the root of attacks with his long raking diagonal passes. Amorim’s three-at-the-back system is perfect for Coates, and although all other options used there this season impressed – Inácio, Diomande, St. Juste and Quaremsa – Coates was the pick of the bunch.

CB: Otávio (FC Porto): A January signing from Famalicão, the forceful Brazilian centre-back immediately looked at ease making the step up, and was one of the few bright spots in a disappointing season for FC Porto. Especially impressive in the Champions League against Arsenal, the Dragons seem to have found a successor to Pepe as the boss at the back.

LB: Nuno Santos (Sporting): An increasingly key component of Amorim’s memorable Sporting era, Nuno Santos’ incisive passing and crossing, leading to plentiful assists, not to mention his goals, gave the champions another potent weapon in their armoury with which to hurt opponents.

MD: Morten Hjulmand (Sporting): Amorim recently admitted that Hjulmand surprised him with just how good he has been. The coach explained that the Dane’s ability to break up opposition attacks but also to set Sporting on the offensive with his accurate and forward-thinking passing makes him a player who has made the team as a whole evolve positively in relation to the predecessors in his position João Palhinha, Matheus Nunes and Manuel Ugarte. High praise indeed!

MD: João Neves (Benfica): Having burst onto the scene at the tail end of last season, Neves’ continued brilliance this time round proved it was no flash in the pan. In a team packed with world-renowned talents and experienced pros, it was often the 19-year-old who was carrying the side, his infectious all-action style auguring a huge future in the game.

LW: Pedro Gonçalves (Sporting): Pure class. Gonçalves is one of those players who simply does not know how to play badly, with an uncanny habit of bringing his A-game to the very biggest matches. 18 goals and 15 assists are fantastic numbers, even more so when considering Amorim often dropped him into a deeper midfield role when need be.

RW: Ángel Di María (Benfica): Any thoughts Di María had chosen Benfica for one last payday and a less strenuous end to his career were dispelled as the Argentine world-cup winner insisted on playing a front-and-centre role for the Lisbon giants. He may have turned 36 during the season, but Di María was at his majestic best for much of it, his wand of a left foot causing havoc among defences and bailing out the often-stuttering team around him time and time again.

CF: Viktor Gyökeres (Sporting): Sporting hit the jackpot when they plucked Viktor Gyökeres from the second tier in England, the striker’s stunning season rendering laughable any notion that the Lions had paid Coventry City over the odds, despite splashing out a club record fee of over €20 million. It proved a veritable bargain as the Swede tore apart defences up and down the country, his marauding, aggressive, direct style thrilling to watch and impossible to counter for Primeira Liga defences. 43 goals and 14 assists in 49 matches in all competitions reflect an extraordinary season.

CF: Rafa Mujica: Arouca faced a tough task living up to one of their best ever seasons last year, especially after seeing coach Armando Evangelista leave in the summer, and his successor Daniel Ramos struggle before being sacked early in 2023/24. The appointment of Daniel Sousa coincided with a spectacular upturn in form, fired by the incessant stream of goals from Rafa Mujica, ably supported by his Spanish compatriots Cristo González and Jason Remeseiro. Intelligent movement and a lethal finisher, Mujica will surely be taking a step up this summer. 


Patrick Ribeiro’s 2023/24 team of the season

GK - Anatoliy Trubin (Benfica): It’s easy to forget the pressure Anatoliy Trubin was put under at the beginning of the season, succeeding Odisseas Vlachodimos between the sticks. He’s quietly lived up to expectations and looks to be a key asset for Benfica in seasons to come.

CB - Otávio (Porto): The Brazilian quickly caught the eye with exemplary displays for Famalicão, earning a swift January move to FC Porto. As far as transitions go, few could argue he’s made the Dragons defence more stable since arriving, commanding from the back with his imposing figure and ability to play from the back. A very solid breakout season.

CB - Gonçalo Inácio (Sporting): There was a real aura about Gonçalo Inácio this season, standing out for his solidity and ability to progress play - a priceless feature for Rúben Amorim’s 3-4-3 system. Despite the odd shaky moment, I struggled to find many centre-halves with the same output.

CB - Ousmane Diomandé (Sporting): Throughout the first half of the season, I’d go as far as saying there was no better defender in the league. A physical phenomenon with composure in abundance, Diomandé was simply on another level and it’s no surprise half the top sides in the Premier League have been on his case since January. Again, the form hasn’t quite been linear, but we’re undoubtedly looking at key feature of Sporting’s dominant title-winning side.

RM - Francisco Trincão (Sporting): In a real moment of redemption, it can’t be stated enough just how brilliant Trincão has been for the Lions, this season. Undoubtedly back to his best, gliding inwards with excellence from the flanks, his presence wouldn’t look out-of-place in Roberto Martínez’s Euro 2024 squad.

CM - João Neves (Benfica): The mood is heavy around the Estádio da Luz these days, but it’s important to remember they still formed one half of a title race and a big reason behind it all was João Neves. A second successive top campaign from the young man who exhausted every fibre of his being to push Benfica closer to the leaders. It wasn’t to be for the Eagles, but the big sharks have noticed.

CM - Morten Hjulmand (Sporting): The official word from a jovial Amorim is that fan favourites João Palhinha and Manuel Ugarte weren’t ever as complete players as summer recruit Morten Hjulmand. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate, but it’s a discussion birthed by just how well the ex-Lecce man set the tone for Sporting in the middle of the park. Where he went, dominance followed.

LM - Nuno Santos (Sporting): In a continuation of his fine personal form from last season, Nuno Santos was as productive as they come from the flanks with four goals and 12 assists in the Primeira Liga. Not always the most advisable option from a defensive perspective, but he really makes amends going forwards.

AM - Rafik Guitane (Estoril): Few players have been as fun to watch this season and it’s always great to see magicians like Guitane gain widespread recognition. Owner of one of the goals of the season, showcasing his enviable technical ability, this is a true “streets won’t forget” moment for a man who can easily make the jump to a bigger Primeira Liga outfit.

CF - Jota Silva (Vitória SC): Scoring a league goal every three games, with an additional six assists, it’s increasingly difficult not to take note of what Jota Silva has done for 5th-placed Vitória, this season. The ‘Portuguese Jack Grealish’ has hurt many a backline with how direct he is, complementing his new-found hunger for goals with lethal off-the-ball movement and acceleration. A sound campaign that promises even greater rewards for the 24-year-old forward.

ST - Viktor Gyökeres (Sporting): In perhaps the most obvious selection in recent times, what else is left to say about Viktor Gyökeres? Powerful, quick, clinical and self-sufficient. A complete dream and an absolute cheat code. The undisputed Player of the Year.


Barney Carter-Phillips’s 2023/24 team of the season

I found this year’s team of the season hard to pick. Sporting were full of outstanding players, Benfica had one or two but Porto and Braga had very few individual success stories.

The rest of the league was just as hard to pick out individuals mostly due to the fact we had, for the majority of the season, 10 teams who could have slipped into the bottom three and the teams that performed well (like Arouca, Moreirense, Rio Ave and Vitória) did so mainly because of the management more than star players.  

Farense’s Ricardo Velho, however, was an obvious star in a team that could have really struggled this season were it not for him. I think his contribution is more important than someone like Trubin who also had a really solid debut season in Portugal. 

Costinha of Rio Ave has produced incredible numbers this season defensively and offensively. I can’t think of a right back who has played at such a high level so consistently. 

Sporting have played with a number of different CBs this season. Inácio and Diamonde may have the potential to be better players than Coates ever was, but it’s felt like the Sporting captain found a way to get himself back to being their most important defender.

Marcelo came to Moreirense to give them some much needed top-level experience. I’ve perhaps focused too much on their attacking players this season but with the joint highest clean sheets this campaign, Moreirense’s success has come from their defensive organisation and Marcelo is key to that. 

Nuno Santos as one of my best defenders this season might seem a bit creative but despite being a natural winger he has made the left wing-back position his own. 

Midfielders were probably the easiest positions to fill. Di María and João Neves have been Benfica’s best players and without them the gap between them and Sporting would have been far bigger.

Hjulmand slipped seamlessly into Sporting’s midfield. He’s brought a dynamic that was missing from Sporting last year in his ability to drive and attack. Pedro Gonçalves has been a key player again for the Lions, notching up 11 goals and 12 assist in the Primeira Liga, but unlike previous seasons not the team’s most important player. 

That falls to Viktor Gyökeres who without a doubt has been the best player in the league this season. An easy pick but a pleasant surprise for how good he has been.

Finally Rafa Mujica, whose season came to a rather disappointing end with him deciding his next career step would be a move to Qatar. This meant he missed the last few games and was unable to improve on his 20 goals. An old school No. 9 whose goals shot Arouca up to the top end of the table. 


Albert Carter-Phillips’ 2023/24 team of the season

As always, picking a Team of the Season is both a lot of fun and extremely difficult. My intention is always not just to give credit to the most obviously talented players at the biggest clubs, but to highlight those more underrated players at smaller clubs who have made a big impact on a team’s success.

This season Sporting have dominated the league and dominated my selections for TOTS. Viktor Gyökeres is undoubtedly the player of the season for me, and his teammates Geny Catamo, Sebastián Coates, Gonçalo Inácio, Nuno Santos, Morten Hjulmand, and Pedro Gonçalves form the majority of my team of the season.

Ricardo Velho has not only been an amazing keeper for Farense, but shone brighter than any other keeper in the league and deserves some recognition for that.

Jota Silva making his national team debut capped off a wonderful breakthrough season.

Finally, Simon Banza showed what he can do with 21 goals in a season where he was consistent from game 1 to game 34, only interrupted by his departure for the AFCON. 



Related: PortuGOAL podcast: 2023/24 complete season breakdown

Related: PortuGOAL writers select the Portuguese Primeira Liga 2022/23 team of the season