Jose Miguel Saraiva brings you 10 players that could enjoy breakthrough campaigns in the Primeira Liga this season.
Matheus Pereira // Chaves (on loan from Sporting Lisbon) // 21 // Winger
The 21-year-old Sporting Lisbon’s winger will play the 2017/18 season on loan for Desportivo de Chaves, last season’s revelation team in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. Although having been given the opportunity to play for Sporting Lisbon a few times, Matheus Pereira has never been able to successfully gain his own place in the squad and being such a promising player, he’ll be playing on loan for a team that aspires to finish the season above the 10th position in the Primeira Liga. Given Matheus’ qualities, his technical ability and irreverence, he’ll certainly be of much help to Chaves and may improve on some less positive aspects, to be able to definitely establish himself as a true Sporting Lisbon player.
Aurélio Buta // Benfica // 20 // Right Back
Aurélio Buta has played many matches and proven his value in the Benfica youth teams and in the Benfica B team. With the departure of Nelson Semedo to Barcelona, the right-back spot in the Benfica first team is vacant now (despite the intention to sign a valuable right-back, publicly confirmed by coach Rui Vitória) and Aurélio Buta was promoted to the A team to fill that spot, having played frequently in this pre-season. One thing is certain: no matter who Benfica signs, Buta is going to be in the main squad and is motivated to confuse coach Rui Vitória and to fight for a starting spot in Benfica’s starting XI. Well, he certainly has the potential!
Mama Baldé // Aves (on loan from Sporting) // 21 // Right Back
The Sporting Lisbon right-back is going to play on loan for Desportivo das Aves, a club that was promoted to the Primeira Liga this season. Mama Baldé is the result of a crazy adaptation, given he played as a forward in the Sporting youth teams, then started playing as right-winger and was later adapted to right-back. That explains the offensive proclivity of this young right-back whose main attribute is his physical strength and pace. An excellent player to help Desportivo das Aves achieve the goal of remaining in the Primeira Liga. I’m sure we’ll be hearing about Mama Baldé soon.
Rui Pedro // Porto // 19 // Striker
This youngster is surely destined for success, having scored 2 goals in 13 matches last season for the Porto A team, a good mark given the fact that he only played 181 minutes. In the 2017/18 season he will be the 3rd option for the striker spot and given that coach Sérgio Conceição will probably opt for a 4-4-2 formation, Rui Pedro will have lots of chances (more than he had last year) to prove his talent.
Bruno Xadas // SC Braga // 19 // Central Midfielder
Bruno Xadas is probably one of the most promising Portuguese midfielders. He arrived in Braga when he was 17 years old, and had already played in the youth teams of Porto and Sanjoanense. He hasn’t yet been given a true opportunity to show his talent in the Braga A team, having made a total of only 5 appearances in the last two seasons. Nevertheless, he’s been a regular presence in the Portuguese national youth teams and the fact that Braga wasn’t willing to send the 19-year-old midfielder away on loan this season is a positive indicator.
Xande Silva // Vitória Guimarães // 20 // Winger
This 20-year-old talented winger came through the ranks at Sporting Lisbon, having played in the club’s youth teams between 2009/10 and 2013/14. He then moved to Vitória Guimarães, where he has performed at a very good level for the last few seasons, mainly in the club’s B team. Last season, however, he played in 7 matches for the Guimarães A team and has recently renewed his contract with club. Technically outstanding and very fast, he is one the most promising young players in Portugal and has made several appearances for Portugal’s national youth teams.
Tomás Podstawski // Vitória Setúbal // 22 // Central Midfielder
Tomás Podstawski is a Portuguese centre-midfielder who started his career at Porto, having played there from 2008/09 until 2016/17, with Polish and Portuguese dual nationality. He has never made an appearance for the Porto A team and signed for the first-tier Portuguese club Vitória de Setúbal at the end of last season. Podstawski has always been a regular presence in the Portuguese national youth teams, having made his debut for the U16 side and played in every youth team until the U21, including the Olympics national team. Being a centre-midfielder with a wide range of technical skills, he will surely make a mark this season at the service of Vitória Setúbal and establish himself as one of the most promising Portuguese midfielders.
Pedro Nuno // Tondela (On loan from Benfica) // 22 // Attacking Midfielder
Pedro Nuno is a Portuguese attacking midfielder, a product of the Portuguese club Naval and also played in the youth teams of Benfica for two seasons. In 2012/13 he signed for Académica Coimbra and played there for 5 seasons, having performed at a very good level, leading Benfica to sign him back in 2016/17. Despite him being a player that still needs to grow and improve in order to become a Benfica-like player, he played the second half of 2016/17 on loan for the first-tier Portuguese club Tondela and he will remain there this season, trying to convince the Benfica fans and staff that he is worthy of a spot in the main squad of the Portuguese champions.
Leonardo Ruiz // Boavista (On loan from Sporting Lisbon) // 21 // Striker
Leonardo Ruiz is a Colombian striker that arrived in Sporting Lisbon last season, after two successful seasons playing on loan for Porto. In his first season in Porto, 2014/15, on loan from Colombian side Atlético Nacional, he managed to score 29 goals in 36 matches for the U19 team. In 2016/17, he played for Sporting Lisbon also on loan from Atlético Nacional, and scored 12 goals. Sporting Lisbon signed him in the beginning of 2016/17 and decided to loan him to Boavista F.C. for the 2017/18 campaign. It is true that Leonardo would have little opportunity to show his talent in Sporting Lisbon’s squad and a loan to Boavista will be a fantastic opportunity for him. With an unquestionable goal-scoring capacity, he is likely to be one of the main revelations of the Portuguese Primeira Liga this season.
Branimir Kalaica // Benfica // 19 // Centre-Back
Branimir Kalaica is a Croatian centre-back that arrived in Benfica in the season of 2015/16, meant to be the future star in Benfica’s defensive line. He has had some difficulty in adapting and establishing himself as a viable option for the starting XI, also due to his young age, but has showed some interesting attributes. In his debut for the Benfica A team, in the last match of the Primeira Liga in 2016/17, Kalaica scored 1 goal and put forth a positive (although not perfect) performance. It is unlikely and he will play very regularly for the Benfica A team in 2017/18 but given the deficit of centre-backs that the club is facing this season, Kalaica will certainly make an effort to show he is worthy of an opportunity.
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