Portuguese players are no strangers when it comes to the Golden Boy Award. In the 2016 and 2019 editions, Renato Sanches and João Félix, respectively, took the prize, making Portugal the second biggest winner after France (Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Kylian Mbappé).
For this year's edition, Portugal is missing a strong number one contender. However, the latest Portuguese Primeira Liga Betting Odds show that there are eight very interesting Portuguese promises in the final list of 60. Let’s meet them.
Pedro Neto (Wolves)
Arguably the strongest Portuguese name on the list, Pedro Neto is still an unfamiliar player amongst many local football fans. After all, the 20-year-old winger from Viana do Castelo left Sporting de Braga for Lazio after only two games for the senior team. But in the summer of 2019, Neto departed from Italy to join Nuno Espírito Santo’s Portuguese armada in Wolverhampton. In the Premier League, Neto was given the opportunities he was not afforded in Rome and has proved to be a revelation.
With 5 goals in 44 games, Neto's breakthrough season was one to remember. The winger has developed his athletic prowess, his speed, and his decision making. In a team that counts on attackers as talented as Adama Traoré and Raúl Jiménez, Neto has shown he has all the skills needed to be one of the big boys.
Rafael Camacho (Sporting)
When Rafael Camacho was signed by Sporting at the beginning of last season, fans hoped he could be as talented as another young Portuguese player who had joined a couple of years earlier: Bruno Fernandes. Camacho arrived in Lisbon with a solid reputation - even though he played only 6 times for Liverpool’s senior team, he showed in flashes he had a lot of promise!
But in Portugal, Camacho’s season was shaken by a very inconsistent Sporting, which wasn’t able to go past a disappointing 4th place finish. Even though Camacho’s first season in the Primeira Liga was not as good as Sporting fans had hoped, the right-winger (who can also play as a wing-back) is amongst the 60 most talented young football players in the world according to the Golden Boy Award selectors.
Eduardo Quaresma (Sporting)
There was no shortage of youngsters in Sporting’s team throughout the season, particularly since Rúben Amorim became the club’s coach. Among all the new young talents at Alvalade, one who has particularly impressed fans is centre-back Eduardo Quaresma. Even though he is only 18-years-old, he shows a lot of maturity on the pitch, as well as a praiseworthy lack of nerves when it comes to big matches.
With Portugal in need of a renovation in the centre-back position (José Fonte and Pepe aren’t getting any younger), Quaresma seems like a player with a big, big future. Is he going to be Rúben Dias’s partner in the Portuguese national team in the future? Many believe he has what it takes to reach that level.
Gonçalo Ramos (Benfica)
With the arrival of Jorge Jesus at Benfica, fans have reason to worry about Gonçalo Ramos’s future, especially considering the Eagles have brought in a number of big attacking signings. But Ramos’s debut for the first team was so good it would be surprising not to see him play at the Estádio da Luz ever again. With 1 match and 2 goals for the senior team, Ramos is still a question mark of a player. But one thing is for sure: he seems to know how to make the most out of a good opportunity.
Tomás Tavares (Benfica)
Portuguese fans call him TT and the Golden Boy Award officials seem to love his style of play. So far, young right-back Tomás Tavares has still not convinced every Benfica fan out there. But the 19-year-old is hardly the main culprit for Benfica’s poor defensive performances throughout last season. He had some great matches and some not very good matches, but the André Almeida apprentice looks like he can develop his playing and evolve into an important athlete for Benfica. Is TT a poker hand to keep, or is the right-back surplus to requirements at the Lisbon club?
The FC Porto boys
While Benfica (until this season at least) and Sporting are not afraid to throw their young stars into the first team, FC Porto’s coach Sérgio Conceição has generally taken a more pondered approach to up-and-coming prospects. Still, there was no shortage of young blood in FC Porto’s title run. Three of the club’s most-talented youngsters made it to the final selection of the Golden Boy Award, and two of them have made the leap to the most Portuguese-ever English Premier League side, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Right-back Tomás Esteves, defensive-midfielder Vítor Ferreira (known as Vitinha), and striker Fábio Silva are the three Porto academy alumni on the list, which sadly had no place for the slightly older Fábio Vieira. The young trio played a minor but important role in FC Porto’s season, and Fábio Silva (who is a bonafide Football Manager superstar) has made the list for a second time. Silva and Vitinha are now playing their football at Molineux alongside Pedro Neto, and rumours continue to swirl that Esteves could also be in for a lucrative transfer abroad.