Posts Tagged ‘Rui Costa’

Bruno-Fernandes-Udinese

Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes has enjoyed a very quick rise to stardom over the last two seasons. The 19-year-old is a former Pasteleira and Boavista youth player who signed with Italian club Novara in the summer of 2012.

The Italian club was playing in Serie B at the time, Italy’s second division. Since then, the young midfielder has impressed with his creativity, vision, passing and dribbling skills.

Fernandes began last season with the reserves, but by December he had earned a starting position with the main squad. He would help Novara reach promotion to Serie A via a playoff against Empoli, scoring four goals in 23 matches along the way.

Fernandes signed with top-flight club Udinese this past summer and his star has continued to rise. Again, expected to be a marginal figure, the 19-year-old made his first competitive appearance for the club in a November League match against Inter Milan. Since then, Fernandes has been a regular starter with the Italian club.

In a very short period of time, the Portuguese has become the focal point of attack for a young Udinese side. He has mainly played in a playmaker or ‘number 10’ role behind a striker this season.

Fernandes scored his first goal in Serie A in a December 7th match against Napoli at the San Paulo Stadium. With Udinese down 2-1 in the 70th minute, Fernandes received the ball at the centre of the pitch and delivered a good shot passed Napoli goalkeeper Rafael. The match would end in a 3-3 draw.

“It felt great scoring a goal against Napoli, one of the strongest clubs in Italy,” he told Portuguese website Maisfutebol Total.

“I was so emotional that I did not even think about celebrating the goal. I wanted to at least hug my teammates. I thought about those who have not played and the fans,” he added. “I found room and decided to shoot, not thinking very much about where to place the ball. I did not realize at first that I had scored.”

Fernandes is part of a very promising generation of Portuguese midfielders. A group that includes Manchester City’s Marcos Lopes, Liverpool’s João Carlos Teixeira, Benfica’s André Gomes and Bernardo Silva, among others. But like most of these players, Fernandes never played for one of Portugal’s Os Três Grandes or Big Three.

The Udinese midfielder is an unlikely success story. Portugal’s midfield is expected to be highly congested in a few years but Fernandes has a key advantage over many of his compatriots. At only 19, he is playing regularly for a top-flight club in one of Europe’s top three leagues.

In a February 2014 interview with the Portuguese news agency Lusa, Fernandes revealed that this past summer, he almost went on loan to English club Watford. But Udinese manager Francesco Guidolin decided it was better for him to stay.

“I ended up staying in the end, kept working hard, and eventually earned my spot after playing in club friendlies. The season began badly, we were eliminated from Europe. I earned the confidence of the manager, and after the match with Inter Milan I had more opportunities,” Fernandes said.

“I am lucky to have a manager who is not afraid to take risks.”

Finally, his home country is starting to take notice of his talent. Fernandes was chosen for the U-19 squad in 2012 when he was with Novara. And he was also recently selected to train with the U-20 Portugal squad.

Portugal’s senior squad has been without a natural playmaker since the retirement of Brazilian-born Deco after the 2010 World Cup. Fernandes’ playing style has most often been compared with former Benfica, Fiorentina and AC Milan midfielder Rui Costa.

“I do not think I have done enough to be compared with him (Costa). I do not think it is fair. I have to continue to work hard because one day, another young player could emerge here who wants to be like me,” he said in the December 2013 interview with Maisfutebol Total.

“He (Rui Costa) was a player I extremely admired. He had an incredible career but just fell short of winning something with the Seleção at Euro 2004. It was a great opportunity. I will never forget the goal against England, which raised everyone’s hopes. He is a great player to look up to.”

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Portuguese midfielder Josué has been one of the major breakthrough performers in the Liga Zon-Sagras this year. Known as a natural playmaker, the 22-year-old has been the focal point of an impressive Paços de Ferreira team that currently sits in fourth place.

In recent years, the Seleção has relied on a trio of box-to-box midfielders to distribute the ball to the wings to create offensive. Portugal has lacked a true playmaker since Brazilian-born Deco played for the team. And before him, former Fiorentina and AC Milan player Rui Costa. But now, it finally looks like they have one in Josué.

Born Josué Filipe Soares Pesqueira (Or just Josué) in Ermesinde, the young midfielder entered the junior ranks of near-by FC Porto in 2007. After graduating to the senior side in 2009, Josué was loaned to S.C. Covilhã, F.C. Penafiel and finally to Dutch side VVV-Venlo in 2010-11.

In 2011, Josué was released by Porto and eventually signed by his current club Paços de Ferreira. This year, he has flourished as part of a resurgent club under manager Paulo Fonseca that is well on its way to producing the best record in the club’s history.

Josué was recently named the best young player in the Portuguese league for the month of February and spoke about the impact Fonseca has had on his development.

“I have learned a lot from manager Paulo Fonseca, who has always said that a player needs to be balanced. I have remained balanced emotionally, and I keep both feet firmly on the ground, because football is a game of moments. Right now I am living through a good moment and I will take full advantage of that,” he said recently.

In March 2013, Portuguese media reported that Josué was on Portugal manager Paulo Bento’s pre-squad for World Cup qualifiers against Israel and Azerbaijan, though he was left out of the final squad. A regular on Portugal’s junior squads, perhaps his first call-up to the senior side is not too far away.

Speculation has linked Josué with a transfer to Portugal’s traditional big three clubs, as well as a move abroad to Europe’s best leagues.

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