As the end of the season beckons across Europe, it is time for us at Outside of the Boot to recognize the accomplishments of tomorrow’s stars under our Talent Radar banner, with the U-22 Team of the Season across each individual top leagues being featured for the fourth consecutive year. This feature looks at the best of the Primeira Liga.
[Eligibility: As of 1st June 2016 – 21 years old and below for outfield players // 22 years old and below for goalkeepers]
Ederson Moraes // 23 // Goalkeeper // Benfica: Benfica cruised to the Liga NOS title after Porto’s wobbles, and struggles to win matches. Benfica’s dominant style has won them matches and plaudits, even if it has seen them dumped out of the Champions League quite unceremoniously. That being said, an important part of their football has been Ederson Moraes. Definitely a proponent of the ‘False 1’ school of keeping, Moraes is very comfortable charging out of goal to attack play. Of course, it has led to him picking up a few bookings, but it’s a cross for such a player to bear. His shot stopping abilities are also top notch.
Victor Garcia // 22 // Right Back // Nacional: Nacional haven’t had a great season, and found themselves rooted to the bottom of the table. That being said, one bright spot in a gloomy season for their fans has to be Victor Garcia. The Venezuelan has given a very good account of himself through all the trouble, averaging about four tackles and three interceptions per game. The Porto loanee has certainly done his bit to impress, and it wont be a surprise to see him contending for a starting spot at his parent club next season.
Domingos Duarte // 22 // Centre Back // Belenenses: Belenenses find themselves comfortably mire in mid table, safe from the dangers of the relegation battle. Their young centre back, Domingos Duarte has been a key part of this effort. The Portugal U20 International has spent his time on loan with Belenenses, and it has been a good experience for him. His no bones style has been effective enough for his side, and that’s all one can ask for really.
Victor Lindelof // 22 // Centre Back// Benfica: A consistent element of the title winning side, Lindelof has emerged as a sturdy partner to the ever present Luisao. The big Swede has been a useful rock at the back, with his aerial abilities coming to the fore. As a ball player too, he’s proven to be very skillful, and a solid passer. Needless to say, he’s won his place in the hearts of many Benfica fans after this smashing free kick against arch rivals Sporting CP.
Rafa Soares // 22 // Left Back// Rio Ave: The Rio Ave full back Rafa Soares has had a very solid season playing from the left. The marauding full back has shown his ability in advanced areas, and his tendency to get forward. He’s a fair defender, but is far more effective going the other way, with three goals and four assists this season to show for his efforts.
Gelson Martins // 22 // Right Winger// Sporting CP: Sporting CP are comfortably sat in third place, but have been out of the title picture despite all the goals from Bas Dost. But their young team, led by the enigmatic Jorge Jesus have been a treat to watch for neutrals. Gelson Martins in particular has been a stand out talent. His speed and dribbling have been a joy to watch, and the Portugal U20 international has racked up five goals and eight assists.
Francisco Geraldes // 22 // Central Midfield// Sporting CP: Francisco ‘Chico’ Geraldes hasn’t had much of a chance to show his skills in the green and white of Sporting, but impressed enough to be back in their squad after his loan at Moreirense. He spent the first half of the season there, returning at the end of the winter transfer window. The youngster made quite the impression, scoring once and setting up two.
Oliver Torres // 22 // Central Midfielder// FC Porto: Porto looked to be coasting towards the end of a tough season, as they’re well off the pace in the league, and ended up getting knocked out of the Champions League in the Round of 16 by a determined Juventus team. However, they’re driven by a lot of young players, and Oliver is one of them. He’s a skillful midfielder, with good passing ability, and an eye for a creative ball. He made his move to Porto permanent very recently, and will be looking to push on next season.
Diogo Jota // 20 // Attacking Midfielder // FC Porto: Oliver’s teammate, Diogo Jota has had a productive season playing in advanced areas. He’s been tried in slightly deeper roles as well, but has had most success on the left side of an attacking trident. Seven goals and five assists in the league make for fine reading. The Portugese youngster is a fine dribbler of the ball too, making him quite dangerous when he’s cutting inside.
Ricardo Horta // 22 // Left Winger // Braga: Horta has been a very versatile player for Braga, playing not just through the middle, but also on the left as required by his team. His six goals and three assists have been a great contribution in his twenty starts for Braga.
Andre Silva // 21 // Striker// FC Porto: Andre Silva has enjoyed a fine breakthrough campaign with Porto. He’s consistently been rated as one of the best young strikers in Europe over the course of this season, making a name for himself. Many expect Silva to lead the line for Portugal for several years to come, and the burden of expectations might just have taken a toll on him after the electric start he had to the season. Despite this, his nineteen goals and seven assists represent a very respectable tally indeed, and a great platform for him.