Portugal’s top-flight clubs have been responsible for producing and developing some of the biggest names in football over the past decade. From the likes of Angel Di Maria, Deco and Radamel Falcao to one of the greatest to ever play the game in Cristiano Ronaldo, the Primeira Liga has been a spectacular breeding ground for many a year.
Which players are next in line to make it big from Portuguese football and follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before them? With one third of the 2017/18 Liga NOS season played, PortuGOAL picks out five players who have shown the attributes this campaign to suggest they can become a global star.
William Carvalho has been linked with a move away from Sporting for what seems like forever. The defensive midfielder has been courted by some of the world’s finest clubs over the last few seasons and was reportedly on the verge of joining West Ham this summer in a €40 million deal. The move failed to materialise but Carvalho, now 25, has been playing the best football of his career since then and seems destined for the top so it will be likely that the enforcer leaves Portugal in the not-too-distant future to challenge himself against the world’s best.
Like Carvalho, Pereira is another defensive midfielder who has been courted by some of Europe’s finest, with Arsenal showing a particular interest over recent times. It has been noted by a Unibet spokesman that Pereira has been integral to Porto’s impressive start to the season in the holding midfield role and his performances will do nothing but enhance his reputation. With an enforcer type seemingly imperative in so many set-ups these days, it won’t come as a surprise should a bigger European club or two make a move for the 26-year-old.
Another Pereira and another Porto player who makes this list but for all the right reasons. The modern day full-back has to be quick, energetic, attacking but also capable of defending too and 24-year-old Porto right-back, Ricardo Pereira, has all those qualities in abundance. He’s often seen bombing up and down the flank until the very last kick of the game and Spurs have already taken a keen interest in him. His recent call-ups to the Portugal national team will only further boost his value, and with Porto’s finances in turmoil, should a suitable bid come in it may be difficult for the Dragons to turn down.
Gelson Martins is a player who has taken Portuguese football by storm over the past two seasons. The 22-year-old is already regularly doing the business for club side Sporting as well as being a full international too. His pace and dribbling ability has seen Europe’s finest rush to send their scouts to cast their eye over him and after Cristiano Ronaldo spoke highly of him in the media, the sky really is the limit for this skilful winger. Sporting are famed for their production line of wingers of the highest quality – Paulo Futre, Luís Figo, Ricardo Quaresma, Nani and Ronaldo – and Martins is set to continue that tradition. He is now what those in the sports betting world would consider to be a ‘sure bet’ to make a big money move in the near future.
Yacine Brahimi is in the prime of his career at 27 years of age, has been in sparkling form this season, and is a big reason behind Porto’s superb start under new coach Sérgio Conceição. An outrageously talented dribbler, it is almost impossible to take the ball off the Algerian when he is on his game, and Brahimi is now consistently coming up with an end product, whether it be a goal or an assist. There was never any doubt Brahimi had the talent; his sometimes suspect attitude has been transformed under Conceição, the forward constantly working hard for the team both when positioned out wide or in a more central role, often dropping deep to pick up the ball in his own half and drive the team forward. Porto would be loath to lose him but taking into account the sort of transfer fee he could command and that bank balance...