Portugal is one of the world’s leading exporters of football talents for FCs across Europe.
Aside from countries in Africa, Portugal presents a steady pool of highly talented players for generous FC employers such as Bayern München, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid, and many more. This week, the Vietnamese sportsbook Vwin, publish an article about the top most expensive Portuguese players at the moment
And yet, while Portuguese talents would happily lend their football skills to the highest bidder in football-crazed Europe, they proudly return to their homeland to represent their country in international competitions.
Portugal recently earned its sixth consecutive World Cup appearance since 2002, after victories over Turkey and North Macedonia through several rounds of tough qualifiers.
With Cristiano Ronaldo – considered the best player in the world alongside Lionel Messi – a shoo-in to the Portugal national team to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the younger members of the elite national team represent the brightest of Portuguese players with the highest seal of quality for export to topnotch European leagues. If they are not already there.
A member of this exclusive list is Joao Felix, a player for Atletico Madrid in La Liga. At 19, Felix is already being compared to Ronaldo because of their similar attacking style and dribbling ability.
Felix is a product of FIFA’s extensive football development program, where member countries are encouraged to participate in youth tournaments under certain age brackets. This young player from Viseu, Portugal was formally introduced to the game at 8, not knowing that it would bring him fame and fortune earlier than anyone could imagine.
The break came in 2016 when, at the age of 16, he was invited to join Benfica’s youth team as reserve. He made such a good impression that he was promoted to the regular squad the following year.
In the 2016/2017 UEFA Youth League, Felix scored six points for Benfica en route to the finals. He never looked back since. What he does look forward to now is playing alongside Ronaldo for Portugal in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar this November.
Another young elite player to watch is Nuno Mendes, a left-back defender who plays for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint Germain, on loan from Sporting CP (Sporting Clube de Portugal) in the Primeira Liga and the Portugal national team.
Not even a pandemic, which brought an abrupt end to the youth football season, could stop this young man’s fated rise to stardom. Mendes was one of a handful of youth players enlisted by Sporting CP team manager Ruben Amorim to play in the Primeira Liga, which was to be the young man’s professional debut.
And he did not disappoint, leading his team to victory against Paços de Ferreira, 1-0. At 18, he became the youngest player to be in the starting lineup, a distinction he shares with former Sporting CP player Ronaldo way back in 2002.
Still a teenager, Mendes had his taste of fortune when he agreed to a contract extension in December 2020 with a buyout clause of €70 million, from the original of €30 million. Once again, he did not disappoint by playing solidly in 29 games and helping his team win the championship and the honor of being named Team of the Year.
In August 2021, Mendes joined Paris-based Saint-Germain, where one of his teammates was Lionel Messi. Days later, he appeared in his first game in the UEFA Champions League and made a brilliant setup for Messi at the 77th minute.
Mendes’ rise to football stardom is truly meteoric, capped with the privilege to join the Portugal national team to the World Cup this year.
Note that all these players are products of Portugal’s top flight Premeira Liga, where talent spotters of elite European leagues, like the English Premier League and Germany’s Bundesliga, are queuing up for bargains. Bargains yes, but certainly not in loose change. Bargain hunters offer millions in euros for their priciest catch.
Ruben Dias and Bruno Fernandes, fresh from Portugal, completely transformed their respective teams in Europe.
Dias won the Premier League Player of the Year Award Manchester City, while Fernandez was conferred the Manchester United’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year Award, the second former Premeira Liga campaigner to win the honor after – who else? – Cristiano Ronaldo.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for Portugal’s inexhaustible football talent pool, with more Primeira Liga players, like Pedro Gonçalves, Fábio Vieira, and Wenderson Galeno, waiting for their own stars to shine outside Portugal.