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Tiago Estevao provides a scout report on young Portuguese goalkeeper Miguel Silva who has been impressing at Vitoria.
In an extremely business minded football world, it’s extremely rare to see players with a deep connection to the city and club that they play for. And it’s justifiable too – everyone knows that the sport we all love is a job just like any other for the ones who play and coach. But everyone also misses the Maldinis and Zanettis that passed through football, and every fan idolizes the Buffons and Tottis of today.
So when we see a youngster playing for a side he clearly loves, absolutely feeling the crest on his shirt, we all know he’s destined to be praised by every fan of the sport. And while you can name a few that are now entering the European spotlight – from Donnarumma to Barkley – we’re here to talk about another one who you probably don’t know just yet – Miguel Silva.
As I referenced in my Diogo Jota scout report: while the majority of talented Portuguese young players come from the big academies of the country, there are always a few “hidden gems” that climb all the way to the senior side of a smaller club without ever being offered a contract in one of the footballing “monsters”. João Miguel is one of them, having played for Vitória SC ever since moving from nearby club Vizela in 2013.
The Guimarães based club is what I like to call a “British/German club from the north of Portugal” being the club in the country with the best fans and stadium environment in comparison to the club’s social status. Having grown up in that exact city, Silva was part of the immense crowd of loud aficionados that followed the Vitória side everywhere.
After starting the season as the main B team goalkeeper (with 6 matches played), the youngster made the most out of Assis’ injury to make the jump to the main squad.
In mid December, Guimarães went to play at the Bessa, Boavista’s traditionally difficult home ground. With no issues reported with Douglas (main goalkeeper) no one predicted that, out of nowhere, Sergio Conceição would throw the youngster into the starting eleven. That decision has been proving itself to be the right one ever since – Miguel didn’t get affected by the pressure, had a fantastic match and has held on to the spot ever since.
As it seems to be the case for the majority of prodigy teen goalkeepers: his flexibility is one of his strongest suits – already having a vast collection of spectacular saves from long shots and chances alike. With that said, he’s also really solid on 1v1’s and being a really focused teenager, Miguel makes sure to keep his defensive line as focused and organized as he is throughout the matches.
Often caught singing alongside the fans during the matches, the goalkeeper left a spectacular image to the football world when after an important away win against Estoril, he pulled a Bundesliga-esque move by singing with the group of travelling fans at the end. When you have someone like this on your team, you just know he’s going to fight with tooth and nail every single time he enters the pitch – and that’s what he does.
Of course nothing is perfected just yet and with experience being such an important goalkeeping trait, the passage of months and years leading the team from his goal will have a massive effect on his characteristics. His approach to crosses and his general positioning in goal can still be somewhat improved on but with his consistency and perseverance, a lot can and will be achieved.
In 10 league matches played so far at the time of writing, Silva has kept 2 clean sheets. With one of those coming against Porto and another stellar display v Benfica (despite the 0-1 loss) already on the books, the Portuguese goalkeeper has been often in the spotlight in recent months. Experiences with the national teams will surely follow and despite the talent of his peers, the kid from the north of the country might just have an advantage. Unlike players such as José Sá (main U21 keeper) who just moved to FC Porto, the Vitoria keeper has his spot on lockdown, not having to compete with massive names in bigger clubs. Often compared to André Moreira – the well known U20 international who’s on loan at União from Atletico de Madrid – it will be an interesting fight between the talented next generation.
Oh, the privileges of the smaller sides… Can not moving to a top club be an actual strategy?
Written by Tiago Estevao