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Jose Miguel Saraiva writes a detailed scout report about Edgar Ié, the Belenenses and Portugal centre back.


Portugal has been facing a problem regarding the absence of young centre-backs that are able to secure a bright future in the Portuguese team in that position. With legendary players like Pepe, Bruno Alves and José Fonte in their mid-thirties, there aren’t many obvious solutions that are considered reliable enough to replace them soon. However, an attentive football observer will certainly feel obliged to include Edgar Ié in the group of the brightest centre-backs in Portugal, a player who will certainly have a place in the Portugal ‘A’ team soon.

Who is Edgar Ié?

Edgar Ié is a Portuguese football player, who was born in the city of Bissau, Guinea Bissau, on the 1st of May 1994, having both Guinean and Portuguese nationality. He started playing football in União Bissau, in 2007, and in 2008 moved to Portugal to play in the Portuguese club Oeiras. He was transferred to the major Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon immediately after, in the season of 2008/09, when he was only 14 years old. He made his way up the Sporting Lisbon youth teams. He originally played as a right-back but Sporting Lisbon’s U18 team coach Ricardo Sá Pinto turned him into a central defender, where he began to really stand out. He never made his debut for the Sporting Lisbon ‘A’ team because in 2012, when he was only 18 years old, Barcelona signed him, along with the promising young midfielder Agostinho Cá. He only made one appearance for the Barcelona ‘A’ team and that was only in the season of 2014/15, having played for 3 seasons in Barcelona ‘B’. From 2012/13 to 2014/15 he played a total of 48 matches. In 2015/16, he was transferred to Villarreal but just like at Barcelona he never stood out enough to be granted a spot in the Villarreal ‘A’ team. He left Villarreal in the middle of the 2016/17 to play for the Portuguese club Belenenses F.C., where he immediately secured a starting spot in a team that gives him more opportunities and conditions to grow.

In Belenenses F.C. he spotted the attention of some Portuguese and foreign clubs as he performed amazingly and really stood out, revealing his true quality, which he couldn’t show whilst competing in Spain, having played 12 matches in only half a season.

With respect to his international performances, Edgar lé has made his debut for the Portuguese U19 international team, playing 9 matches and scoring 2 goals. He participated heavily in the U20 and U21 national teams, making a total of 24 appearances and scoring a total of 3 goals. He also participated in the Olympic games, where he played 5 matches. He’s recently been present in the U21 2017 European Championship, playing all 3 games the Portuguese national team participated in at a great level, even scoring 1 goal.

Edgar joined French side, Lille, in the 2017 summer transfer window.

What is his style of play?

Edgar Ié is a natural right-back, where he thrives especially due to his velocity and physical strength. He offers his team great width when playing in this position as he tends to make frequent attacking movements. However, his adaptation to centre-back was most successful and I believe that it is in this position that he reveals his quality the most.

He is great with his anticipation, due to his speed, and is perfect when it comes to facing fast opposition forwards. He is also very useful with the ball on his feet, for he is technically good and helps his team constructing the game.

What are his strengths?

Edgar Ié has some qualities that are unusual to find in centre-backs. He is, as mentioned before, a very fast player. This quality was evident in the U21 2017 European Championship where he was able to often neutralise really fast forwards from the dangerous Serbian and Spanish U21 teams. Also, his tremendous physical capability allows him to keep up his speed throughout the whole game, making him a very important unit for his team as he maintains a high intensity playing style during the whole 90 minutes.

He is also technically well-developed, when compared to the average centre-back, which explains his initiatives in leading the team’s play by carrying the ball from the back.

Despite being only 5 ft. 9 inches tall, he has good heading ability, and is comfortable when he has to play the ball in the air.

Finally, he is a very competent tackler, being able to accurately calculate the ideal moment to tackle the opposite player and recover possession of the ball for his team.

What are his weaknesses?

Despite being a very promising player, with a great deal of potential, Edgar Ié needs to improve on some aspects to reach a level that allows him to play for greater clubs. Firstly, and most importantly, he must have a more stable and consistent mentality. One of the main reasons for his difficulty in succeeding at Barcelona and Villarreal is his poor mentality that turns him into an inconsistent player. Of course, a stronger mentality also comes with age and experience but it is an aspect on which Edgar must work on, and to do so he needs to be provided with support. He is another example of a young player that signed too soon for a major team and burned some essential stages in his development, both psychological and technical, as a player and as a person, which he would have more profitably and effectively gotten if he had stayed in a club which gives him more conditions, like Sporting Lisbon or Belenenses F.C. In fact, one will easily understand that it may not be healthy for an 18-year-old to move from the youth teams of Sporting Lisbon to the ‘A’ team of a club like Barcelona, where he will have increased difficulties in adapting and in successfully claiming a spot in the team for himself. There are, of course, some exceptional cases of undisputable success in such operations.

He must also improve in certain technical aspects of the game, like his positioning and the ability to understand the game and his teammates’ tactical behaviour. He makes up for his positioning deficiencies with his incredible speed, but when facing players that perform at the highest levels, it certainly won’t be enough and deficient positioning will affect him adversely.

Being only 23 years old, Edgar Ié is still very young and will certainly be able to improve on his flaws, in a championship like the French one. I have no doubt that everyone in the world will be hearing about Edgar Ié soon.


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Jose Miguel Saraiva

Jose Miguel Saraiva

José Miguel Saraiva is from Leiria, Portugal and is a Sporting Lisbon fan. He currently attends a Law School in Lisbon and has played football for 12 years.
Jose Miguel Saraiva

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