It’s safe to say that Portugese football is in good shape right now, European Championship winners in the summer, runners up in the 2015 U21 European championship, and runners up in the U19 European championships the year before. Six of the key players from those youth teams have broken into the national team now – Joao Cancelo (22), Raphael Guerreiro (22), Andre Gomes (23), Bernardo Silva (22), Joao Mario (23), Gelson Martins (21) and Andre Silva (20) with the latter being particularly impressive. Here we look at how his career has taken off.

Silva has played for every Portugal national team from U16 level and has been vital in the success of the new generation. At the 2014 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, he became the first ever player to net four times in a single match (6–1 group stage defeat of Hungary) so progression through the ranks was inevitable and in his first appearance with the under-21 side, Silva scored a hat-trick in 19 minutes, contributing to a 6–1 win against Albania for the 2017 European Under-21 Championship qualifiers. Unfortunately he might not feature in the finals of that tournament for the U21’s as he has done his chances of remaining in the first team no harm with recent performances. Four goals in four games including becoming the youngest player to score a hattrick for Portugal has shown us what an exciting young talent he is.

He made his competitive debut for Porto last season but started the campaign behind Aboubakar and Dani Osvaldo in the pecking order, this situation worsened in January with the acquisitions of Suk Hyun-jun and Moussa Marega. However, after José Peseiro replaced Julen Lopetegui as manager, he received more opportunities and scored his first league goal in a 4–0 home win over Boavista. He subsequently started in the final of the Taça de Portugal, helping his team recover from a 2-0 deficit against S.C. Braga with a brace, which included a bicycle kick in the last-minute.

Silva has begun 2016–17 in good form, with goals in his first two league games against Rio Ave F.C. and G.D. Estoril Praia, while also scoring in Porto’s 1–1 draw at home to A.S. Roma in the UEFA Champions League’s play-off round. A brace against Boavista and another goal a week later against Nacional puts him on nine goals in 14 games (including for Portugal), an impressive return for a 20 year old. He has just signed a new five-year contract with Porto, which includes a release clause of €60 million, a clear statement of how highly he is rated and how much the next superstar on the Porto conveyor belt might cost one of Europe’s superpowers.

About the author – Liam Bailes

Liam has been a football fanatic since the early 1990s and continues to be delighted by the sport today. He follows the 5 big European leagues as well as the npower championship and major cup competitions both domestically and internationally. He is an FA level 2 coach and loves to be involved with football at every opportunity.



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Sporting CP is famous for the success of its academy. In the Euro 2016 final there were 11 players who participated in the match who were developed in the Sporting CP academy: only Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, Eder and Renato Sanches have never been part of this club.

Following on from the likes of Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo, Quaresma and so on, a new young winger has become a regular in Jorge Jesus’s line-up at the early age of 21: Gelson Martins.

This fast, strong, physical attacking midfielder is the surprise package in the wonderful start to the Portuguese Primeira Liga for the Leoes, with 6 goals and 11 assists in the last season and 2 goals and 5 assists to his name already this season.

Pace, speed, and  passing are his best qualities. He is also physically imposing and has very good timing, tackling and long range passing abilities. His stunning vision is the reason why he provides so many assists for his team mates.

Even though he’s not as gifted at shooting and finishing, his talent is pure and the high level performances that he has produced have guaranteed a place for him in the senior Portuguese National Team. Fernando Santos has tried to protect him and reduce the media attention on him, saying that he’s useful for the matches against the Faroe Islands and Andorra, but we all know that this young starlet is growing and showing his true value.

To confirm his ever growing reputation,  some big elite clubs in Europe have already made enquiries about him. Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus have their eyes firmly fixed on this diamond in the rough, but he will not come cheap: The asking price is said to be at least 45 million to take him away from Lisboa. He has recently said that he doesn’t want to talk about a new contract: Could this be a message for the top clubs?

Day by day this young talent becomes stronger. In Spain, Mundo Deportivo compares him to Figo; in Italy some say he’s quite similar to Juan Cuadrado. The only great problem, according to the Spanish tabloid, is his hastiness and impetuosity: with this mental approach he could run the risk of forging ahead in his career too quickly, when perhaps the best option for him would be to remain where he is and complete his footballling education in the Sporting Academy, where he is currently viewed as a bright prospect for the future.

Having lost Joao Mario and Slimani in the last transfer window, it would be hard for Sporting CP to replace another great player: Will he be a true champion or with so many big European clubs chasing his signature, will he be tempted to seek a transfer before he is perhaps ready. For sure, at least until the next transfer window, he will have the chance to show (mainly in Champions League) that his skills are something we would call a good investment!

About the author – Marco Santanche

Marco was born in Rome and supports Inter because of Luiz Nazario Da Lima Ronaldo. He is a Brazilian citizen because of his father’s roots. He played futsal for several years, even in the FIGC (Italian FA) as a winger, playmaker and striker. He is now studying for a degree in finance.


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