Amid all the excitement over Portugal’s overwhelming talent pool in almost all areas of the pitch, the lack of high-quality options at centre-back continues to be a concern.
At 27 years of age, Miguel Vítor is an alternative Seleção coach Fernando Santos may want to look at. After playing a key role in Hapoel Beer Sheva’s charge to the national championship in Israel, the former Benfica defender was this week named the best player in the league in 2016/17.
Vítor’s debut season in Israel could not have gone better. He has played in 29 matches and scored three goals as Hapoel swept to the title with weeks to spare. PortuGOAL reached out to Israeli football journalist Raphael Gellar to find out more.
PortuGOAL: Is Miguel Vítor’s award as the Best Player in Israel this season deserved in your opinion?
Yes, he is one of the best defenders to ever come and play in Israel and when he was on the pitch he was the heart and soul of the defence. When he was out with his injury Beer Sheva went through a rough patch where they struggled and a lot of that was because of his absence. As soon as he came back and he became comfortable again, the team clicked.
I believe he is the first defender to receive this award since 1979. Also, let’s not forget he missed over three months, so win this award even after missing that long just shows how special a player he is.
PortuGOAL: What has impressed people most about him?
His initial performances in Europe were very impressive. Nobody knew that much about him before he came and now everyone can’t stop talking about him! It’s very clear he connected with the fans and the coaching staff. His performances against the top team in Israel were stellar and he is the main reason why Beer Sheva conceded the least number of goals in the league (17 goals in 34 matches). The media have praised him for his work ethic of coming back from injury so quickly and have said they haven’t seen a better defender in years.
PortuGOAL: What do the Hapoel Beer Sheva fans think of him?
They all love him and say he’s one of the best signings in the history of Israeli football. The fans also appreciated how well he could line up against top players from Southampton and Inter in the Europa League.
When he came back from his injury Beer Sheva were dropping points and Maccabi Tel Aviv were creeping up, then Miguel got the defence organized again and when Maccabi played Beer Sheva with a chance to go even on points, Beer Sheva won 1-0 and took a 6-point lead that Maccabi could not make up. Miguel was excellent that match.
PortuGOAL: Has he given any indication about whether he will stay or move on this summer?
From everything I understand, he is very happy at Beer Sheva and the club is going to do everything in their power to make sure they keep him. Vítor himself said the fans love him at Beer Sheva and he wants to activate the option on his contract.
Everyone at the club has publicly stated loud and clear that making the champions league is a top priority for the club so I don’t see how there is any way Beer Sheva would let him leave and I think Vítor is at the point of his career where he realizes he is at a place where the fans adore him, the press love him and he has a chance to do something really special by playing Champions League football.
Our thanks to Raphael Gellar. For more from Raphael follow him on Twitter @Raphael_Gellar.
by Tom Kundert