The club season is nearing its climax, but the thoughts of many top footballers will already be on Euro 2020, with the delayed competition set to take place in the next few months. Therefore, form at this time of the season is crucial. A bad run, or worse still injury, can ruin your dreams of featuring, whilst a productive spell could see you play a part on the biggest stage.

For a country like Portugal, it’s complicated though. The strength in depth available to Fernando Santos means, in theory, he should have plenty of huge decisions to make. However, the experienced boss must feel a degree of loyalty to those that made history five years ago, and some big names pick themselves. So, the reality is that there are a lot of good players competing for a few positions.

But one man who seems increasingly deserving of a place in the squad in the eyes of the boss, judging by the latest callups by Santos, is Pedro Neto. 

The Wolves winger has been a real breakthrough star this season, becoming a talisman for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side as he has reached double figures for goal contributions in the league. They may not seem the most eye-catching numbers, but a quick glance at the latest English Premier League odds shows Wanderers are 7/1 to finish in the top half. Basically, Neto is thriving in a poor team.

Logic would suggest that putting the talented 20-year-old in a team that contains the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo, to name just a few, would bring his game on a lot. Of course, we are not suggesting that Neto will be a key player in the tournament, but he can have a role to play from the bench.

Firstly, the left-footer would arrive with no ego. Just being part of the group would be an achievement at his age, so he would not disrupt the atmosphere if he wasn’t in the first XI. That may seem like a trivial issue, but it’s crucial that every Portuguese player is committed, and having someone on the bench who may be upset because they aren’t playing could negatively impact the dynamics of the group.

Then, and more importantly, you have the qualities that Neto can bring as a sub. His direct dribbling style and raw pace make him a real threat on the counter-attack. This is how his Wolves side play domestically, and it could be very useful in tight games that Portugal may be leading. With matchups against Germany and France in the group stage, that match scenario is a reasonable probability, even before we talk about the knockouts.

That’s not to say he is a one-dimensional player, though, because Neto would also be a very useful option when chasing a game because of the width he can provide. Boasting someone of Ronaldo’s aerial prowess means you need players who can deliver quality crosses, which Neto is capable of. 

Given his young age, there may be a temptation to earmark Neto for future tournaments. After all, there will be a hope that the former Braga man can be a key figure for the national team for the next decade and beyond.

Plus, the horrible ‘Group of Death’ that Portugal have landed themselves in means that Santos may be leaning towards going with experience. The games against France and Germany are going to be high-pressure, so that’s an understandable thought process.

However, Neto is excelling against high-quality opposition on a weekly basis in England, and his fearless approach to the big games is refreshing to see.

With that in mind, he appears to be the perfect wildcard for Santos to pick this summer. Every squad has a surprising decision and given the vast array of talent in the final third available to the coach, there’s no denying Neto would be a risky choice, even though he has been picked for the upcoming squads.

Ultimately though, his enthusiasm and quality make Neto an exciting option for Portugal, and he could play a role as the Seleção look to replicate their heroics from 2016.

 

Comments (11)

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I agree that Neto could prove to be a vital super-sub off the bench this summer at the Euros. I don't see him starting too many games with the likes of Bernardo, Felix, and Jota ahead of him on the pecking order, but as the article mentions, his...

I agree that Neto could prove to be a vital super-sub off the bench this summer at the Euros. I don't see him starting too many games with the likes of Bernardo, Felix, and Jota ahead of him on the pecking order, but as the article mentions, his pace could really come in handy against tired legs late in the second half or in extra time (a very likely scenario given the type of football we tend to play under Santos).

Rafael Leao, Rafa Silva, and Pedro Goncalves are also in the running for this final spot on the roster, but I think Neto despite his age is the most suited to tournament football. Rafa can serve a similar function (he's perhaps even quicker than Neto) but the Wolves man has proven to be more than good enough to cause serious problems to any defense in the Premier League, whereas Rafa has a history of struggling outside of his primeira liga comfort zone.

Portugal interestingly also has quite a few guys who are first-choice penalty takers at their respective clubs. Ronaldo and Fernandes are two of the most prolific strikers from the penalty spot around. We also have Andre Silva, Ruben Neves, and Sergio Oliveira. Throw Joao Felix and potentially Diogo Jota into the mix and we're looking at at least 6 or 7 solid options in any potential shootout.

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you are thinking santos is playing for a draw?

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I think he means Santos is just too pragmatic to go offense unless he is down.

Given the talent ceiling at the world cup being so high it makes sense. Its one thing to go all our against Leeds and quite another to do it against sides like...

I think he means Santos is just too pragmatic to go offense unless he is down.

Given the talent ceiling at the world cup being so high it makes sense. Its one thing to go all our against Leeds and quite another to do it against sides like Germany and France, etc.

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Fernando Santos has a good problem . I am not sold on Joao Felix thou.

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That is because good coaches build a system around the qualities of the players and not the other way around. Felix is by far the most talented player of this new generation. And it’s not even very close. However Lage was the only one who had his...

That is because good coaches build a system around the qualities of the players and not the other way around. Felix is by far the most talented player of this new generation. And it’s not even very close. However Lage was the only one who had his formation correct and that’s why Felix did what he did. I’m a Sporting fan and as much as it hurt to watch Benfica win the league with the historic comeback it was also plain to see the genius of that kid. No surprise once he got there they went on to win after a terrible start and once he left they haven’t won since. The kid is not a winger! He’s a rare player Portugal usually doesn’t possess. How could you possibly try to compare this kid to the jotas and netos or bernardos. Lage put him in a Messi role behind the striker where he was able to control the game and utilize his freakish vision and technical ability. It’s greatest asset is his passing. How would Messi do if he had to start his career with Mourinho? Just ask quaresma. Why take a rare talent like Messi and waste it burning energy running up and down the field all game defending waiting for a counter attack? Obviously Messi was never asked to play like that. They brought in coaches to build systems around his gifts and the rest is history. Felix is not a striker and he’s not a winger. But if you put this kid in the right position he’s absolutely lethal. For years whenever Barcelona tried to make Messi a false 9 they failed miserably. Felix is no different. You let him play the position he is designed to play in a system that’s built around guys like him and Fernandes qualities and no reason those two can’t create the type of midfield magic Messi and xavi and Iniesta did.

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Justin,

Excellent post, this is exactly why I (and many) love coming to Portugoal. Sure we all talk out our ass from time to time but this analysis is bang on.

Playing Felix as a winger (Simeone DID this) and then expecting moron fans to...

Justin,

Excellent post, this is exactly why I (and many) love coming to Portugoal. Sure we all talk out our ass from time to time but this analysis is bang on.

Playing Felix as a winger (Simeone DID this) and then expecting moron fans to understand why Felix isnt scoring is not even worth my time, figure it our yourselves. Obviously you and many other Portugoalers not only love Porto-Benfica-Sporting-Selecao but love the sport itself.

NO F-IN WAY Messi under Mourinho develops into the Messi we all know and love. NO WAY Bernardo Silva becomes Bernardo Silva if he doesnt go to Monaco under Jardim. Some coaches coach dynasty clubs, some coaches build players up.

Felix is a SS, playing as a lone striker or a winger is just putting snow tires on a Ferrari. WHY ON EARCH Simeone doesnt play Suarez as the CF and Felix as the SS is a mystery only he knows. Some nut on Twitter compared Felix to Suarez, I was baited and replied but wtf are people thinking? Its like comparing Zlatan to Leao.

Felix is a wonderkid, its so obvious and it is sooooo frustrating to watch him play in a role he isnt suited for . At the start of the season Simeone played a 4-1-4-1 and what was the result? Suarez banging in goals every game, Felix looking like a superstar and Llorente looking like the next Totti. Simeone gets a few ties and a lose and he immediately reverses back to his safe, comfy, ultra boring 4-4-2.

THIS is the problem, not Felix. The players do what the coach dictates and the blame for Atletico being out and looking awful in champions league is down to Simeone.

Did you notice the last 10 minutes of the match vs Chelsea, Simeone goes back to 4-1-4-1 and Atletico start attacking, surprise surprise...

Anyone its frustrating as hell and I hope something changes or else Felix will always be running in sand at Madrid.

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Also Carrasco is the DUMBEST player on the planet. He needs to go asap!

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We’ll said. We’re lucky to have him. Let’s hope he can reach his potential for Portugal and help us win a world cup

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I think he can be our Quaresma this tournament. Our super sub who changes games. His pace will be excellent against tired legs.

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Neto is a damn beast and he looks like the real Guedes we never got.

Lightning quick with creativity out the back side. He seems to only score highlight goals as well, 100% a game changer.

Neto in a solid side with attacking flair would double...

Neto is a damn beast and he looks like the real Guedes we never got.

Lightning quick with creativity out the back side. He seems to only score highlight goals as well, 100% a game changer.

Neto in a solid side with attacking flair would double his output. Also has a high football IQ, unselfish and hard working. He along with Ryan Gauld at Farense need a better club. No disrespect to Wolves but Neto's skill needs more attack minded club to push him higher.

He is so exciting to watch.

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Neto is an animal hes the best thing in portugal after ronaldo 100%...

so happy to see him, way better than jota guedes and on par id not better than felix...

felix has done zero so far for portugal,even when jota scored he wasnt too keen to...

Neto is an animal hes the best thing in portugal after ronaldo 100%...

so happy to see him, way better than jota guedes and on par id not better than felix...

felix has done zero so far for portugal,even when jota scored he wasnt too keen to celebrate,i hate that selfishness from a nation team player...

Mendes looks solid,cant wait for thr game to see the line up FORCAAAAAAAAA....

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