Portugal’s Rising Five
Nations League winners Portugal have a history of producing brilliant young talent. Colin Millar picks out five for the future…
The 19-year-old rose to prominence for Benfica in 2018-19, netting 20 goals while registering 11 assists for the club, who regained the Portuguese top-flight.
With a €120m release clause and a host of clubs interested including Real Madrid, Manchester City and Atletico Madrid, Joao Felix is one of the most in-demand youngsters in world football.
While a lot of talk in recent months has centred on Dutch central defender Matthijs de Ligt, Benfica’s Ruben Dias has emerged as a star in Lisbon and looks destined to be a rock for his nation for the next decade.
Dias has a €60m termination clause at the Portuguese champions and has made 83 first-team appearances, despite only turning 22 in May.
Valencia forward Goncalo Guedes is still aged just 22 despite having already recorded two big-money transfers.
The explosive wide-man has been involved in transfer deals totalling €70m — joining Los Che following a short stint at Paris Saint-Germain, whom he joined from Benfica. He struck the winner in the Nations League Final.
In October 2015, Ruben Neves made history by becoming the youngest ever captain in the Champions League. Then aged just 18, the deep-lying central midfielder skippered Porto and appeared set for a huge future.
He fell from prominence and joined Wolves in the summer of 2017, but an excellent first year in the Premier League means Neves is now one of the most valued midfielders in England.
Another alumni of Benfica’s famed youth system, and another who has had ups and downs already in a short career, Renato Sanches is noted for his versatility in midfield, where he’s comfortable in defensive, attacking, central and wide roles.
His 2016 move to Bayern Munich has seen his progress stall but is still aged just 21 and could yet have a huge future in football.