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.



Share this article:


It’s been a summer of change like no other for Internazionale. There has been a change of ownership, with the Suning Group from China purchasing a controlling stake in the club. Then there was a somewhat unexpected change of manager, with Roberto Mancini parting ways with the Nerazzurri less than three weeks before the start of the season, and former Ajax coach Frank de Boer taking his place.

And in addition to the changes of leadership, there has also been a raft of new players arriving at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, not least because of the cash injection from the aforementioned take over.

The timing of the deals may not have been perfect – several players arrived after the Serie A season had already begun – and the squad still has a hole or two overall. But the improvements Inter have made via the transfer market this season stand to thrust the Milanese giants back up into the upper echelons of Italian football.

Inter have made as many as nine first team additions this summer, and here’s the pick of the bunch.

Éver Banega

Argentinian playmaker Éver Banega has been signed from Sevilla on a Bosman free transfer, in what could prove to be one of the finest pieces of business completed on the Continent this summer.

The 28-year-old was outstanding in Sevilla’s run to a third straight UEFA Europa League title, scoring nine goals and registering five assists in all competitions for the Andalusian club last season.

In the previous Serie A campaign, Inter were often lining up with an incredibly negative midfield trio of Felipe Melo, Gary Medel and Geoffrey Kondogbia; Banega has come in to add finesse and creativity in the middle of the park.

If de Boer can strike the right balance by covering the spaces in behind Benega, while providing pace and willing runners in forward areas, Inter will reap the benefits of having one of the most skilled and creative midfielders in Europe in their side.

Antonio Candreva

Antonio Candreva was earmarked as a transfer target early in the window by Inter, and the Nerazzurri managed to fend off rival interest from Chelsea to sign the Italian international winger for €25 million.

In his four seasons with Lazio, Candreva scored 41 goals from 150 Serie A appearances. And despite the Biancocelesti’s inability to find a consistent level of form last season, Candreva still managed to rack up 12 goals while also registering five assists.

The Rome-born player is 29 years old now, so Inter will be expecting him to come straight into the team and have an immediate impact – especially considering the money laid out for the former Udinese man.

But the 40-cap Azzurri winger will back himself to add a level of dynamism to the right side of Inter’s attack, and his impeccable delivery from wide areas will prove to be a valuable source of goal-scoring opportunities for captain and star striker Mauro Icardi.

Gabriel Barbosa

Brazilian prodigy Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa had a host of elite European clubs lining up to sign him from Santos this summer, but it was Inter who won the race for his signature.

Barbosa has been making waves in Brazil since his 2013 debut. The youngster earned the nickname “Gabigol” because of his coolness and finesse in front of goal, belying his tender years and relative inexperience.

An impressive tally of 56 goals from 153 appearances for Santos – all while still in his teens – makes it easy to see why so many top clubs wanted to sign the youngster.

And he didn’t come cheap: in order to beat the likes of Juventus, Atlético Madrid and Manchester United to sign the Brazilian, Inter had to pay a fee in the region of €30 million, with Barbosa joining the Serie A giants on his twentieth birthday.

Barbosa is unlikely to unseat Icardi as Inter’s primary marksman this season – not least because the former Barcelona and Sampdoria man has just signed a bumper new contract – but his ability to play on the right of the front three, as well as centrally, will see the four-cap Brazil international get plenty of game time.

Joao Mario

With a transfer fee in the region of €45 million, 23-year-old Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario became Inter’s second most expensive purchase ever – behind only the world record signing of Christian Vieri from Lazio in 1999.

Joao Mario was impressive for Portugal during their historic UEFA European Championship triumph in France this summer, acting as the main creative force in Fernando Santos’s midfield.

Despite only having three full seasons of senior football under his belt, Joao Mario has earned rave reviews for his performances with Sporting Clube de Portugal. Capable of playing wide on the right or centrally as a number 10, the 23-year-old is fast, athletic and a skilled dribbler with an eye for a defence-splitting pass.

With the hefty price tag, Inter fans will be expecting big things from Joao Mario, and if the Porto-born midfielder can hit the ground running in Milan, he’ll be a major factor in the Nerazzurri’s push for Champions League qualification.

With the acquisitions they have made, Frank de Boer has somewhat of a selection dilemma on his hands, as several top quality players will not make his starting eleven.

But if he sticks with the 4-3-3 utilised in the club’s recent 1-1 draw with Palermo (although a 4-2-3-1 could perhaps better accommodate Joao Mario), Inter fans can expect to see a line-up of Samir Handanovic; Danilo D’Ambrosio, Jeison Murillo, Miranda, Davide Santon; Éver Banega, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Joao Mario; Antonio Candreva, Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic – a side capable of qualifying for the Champions League, and maybe even contesting lo Scudetto.

About the author – Ryan Baldi

Ryan is a Midlands based freelance sports writer specialising in European football. He has been fascinated with the continental game ever since he was presented with his first football kit at the ge of 7 years old whilst on holiday in Spain – a Barcelona shirt with ‘Romario 10’ printed on the back. A contributor to numerous footballing websites, Ryan has also covered martial arts for local and national print publications.

Twitter:  @RyanBaldiEFB




Share this article:


Remember this name: João Mário. A few years ago the 23-year-old player was a total stranger to the football world; now, he’s one of the most important players in the Sporting Clube de Portugal’s roster and the main prey in this Summer’s transfer window. He’s the true heart of the Portuguese team, and you can feel the difference on the field whenever he’s unavailable.  He’s a right attacking midfielder in Jorge Jesus’s 4-2-2-2 but originally he was a central midfielder. So what did his coach see to give him a more offensive role? I’ll get to that, but first, we need to understand how Sporting plays.

Jorge Jesus fancies a more dragging-to-the-center style, giving the wingers (usually Jefferson and João Pereira or Schellotto) the crossing task. Both the attacking midfielders (Bryan Ruiz on the left, João Mário on the right), have the always difficult job of providing assists for the top scorer Islam Slimani, who does the easiest part: finishing. We know Bryan Ruiz has great dribbling and passing ability, which provides Slimani with the right ball, in the right place. The left Wing has indeed quality. How about the right wing?

When Carrillo caused a riot, Jorge Jesus began working immediately on a within-club solution. At first, the youngster Gelson Martins, who possesses characteristics very similar to the troublesome player, was thought to be the solution; but an injury ruined the manager’s plans, and a new solution was needed.

For any club searching for a new right attacking midfielder then João Mário is a must buy.

After some experiments, the Portuguese coach soon found his new right attacking midfielder: João Mário. No one would guess that a former central midfielder would make supporters forget about Carrillo, but the truth is that he did. He took his place in the right wing, leaving the midfield to Adrien Silva and William Carvalho. The mastermind Jorge Jesus also thought of the solutions for not being overpowered in the midfield: in attacking tasks, both João Mário and Ruiz, with a little help of a more mobile Second Striker (usually Teo Gutierrez), would function as one in the middle, trying to shoot or provide assists for Slimani; in defending tasks, Ruiz would be more stable as an offensive midfielder, and João Mário would move back into a more central midfielder role.

To acknowledge all of this information, it would require a very intelligent player, one who could correctly implement all of the manager’s tactics on the pitch. For Sporting, that player is João Mário. It’s now relatively easy to understand why he’s such an important player for Sporting. He’s got the courage, the confidence, the passing and shooting ability, and above all, he’s got the brains. He’s the shadow of Slimani and the builder of Sporting’ style of play. He’s a player that we only see once in a decade, and he has the youth that allows him to dream bigger, outside Portugal.

It isn’t difficult to find a club that wants him: in the last week, there were rumors of three European sharks chasing him. Atlético de Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United asked Sporting how much the Portuguese club wanted, and with the financial issues in Portugal, it seems like the Portuguese national team’s player won’t be in Portugal next season. The Euros are near, and many scouts will be watching his every move closely. Sporting’s asking price is €30 Million, which is, in my opinion, is a very deserved fee. For any club searching for a new right attacking midfielder then João Mário is a must buy.

My evaluation:

Stamina Level: 7/10

Shooting: 8/10

Pace: 8/10

Heading: 6/10

Dribbling: 9/10

Vision: 9,5/10

Teamwork: 9/10

Overall: 8,5/10

Potential: 9/10

About the author – Luis Costa

Luis has a great passion for football and has been playing Soccer Manager for 5 years. He played semi-professional football for 13 years and is currently a regional referee is Madeira’s football association.


Share this article: