Posts Tagged ‘Serie A’

Calcio John Foot

Calcio: A History of Italian Football

Calcio: A History of Italian Football by John Foot

A comprehensive look at football in Italy by an English academic. In this dense look at football culture, Foot looks at how the game has been influenced by but also helped shape Italian society over time. And for those less inclined to the Italian football tradition, this book is so abundantly rich in storytelling that it reads almost like a novel at times.

What enriches Foot’s book the most is the excellent profiles of many of Italy’s most famous personalities, including Helenio Herrera, Giuseppe Meazza, Gigi Meroni and others. It also has a chapter on virtually every aspect of football down to match-fixing, doping and refereeing. It is one of my favourite non-fiction books.

When Beckham Went to Spain: Power, Stardom, and Real Madrid by Jimmy Burns

An excellent look at the history of Real Madrid written interestingly enough by an Barcelona fan. Burns tracks the evolution of the club as a global brand, using the 2003 transfer of David Beckham as a defining moment in the it’s history. At the same time it still is a profile of the English superstar, although his name does go unmentioned for long periods.

Burns’ book attempts to decipher exactly what Beckham’s move to Spain meant for the club and the country. At the time, Beckham’s move was largely seen as less a footballing decision than a commercial one. Although we have the benefit of hindsight, Beckham’s arrival meant a lot for the stature of Spain, La Liga and Real Madrid at the time.

La Roja: How Soccer Conquered Spain and How Spanish Soccer Conquered the World by Jimmy Burns

Another book by Anglo-Spanish journalist Jimmy Burns. ‘La Roja’ is a conventional history of football in Spain. Burns takes us from the first organized matches by English industrialists in Rio Tinto to Andrés Iniesta’s winning goal at the 2010 World Cup.

The book does an excellent job of highlighting the importance of football to Spain’s society in the 20th century. The less documented stories like the Athletic Bilbao squads of the 1930s is what makes this book fascinating. But of course, there is some rich detail about the origins of the Real Madrid and FC Barcelona rivalry that still dominates the narrative of La Liga today.

Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics by Jonathan Wilson

An interesting book about the evolution of formations and tactics in the game of football. The book is sometimes complicated, so it is not recommended for those who have only a modest interest in tactics. For those that love to discuss the merits of 4-3-3 over 4-4-2 this book is essential reading.

Wilson discusses in great detail the evolving game of football, from the frustrating but effective Italian Catenaccio, to the Total Football of the 1970s, and good old fashion counter-attack. The book even considers the more controversial subjects including the natural playmaker and the sweeper. It also has some great information about some of the tactical geniuses in history like Helenio Herrera, Rinus Michels and Nereo Rocco.

Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football by David Winner

One of the most original books written on the subject of football. Ironically it has less to do with the global game and more to do with how Holland’s cultural and history has influenced the Dutch style of football, particularly the Total football era of the 1970s.

The distinct Dutch style of shifting positions on the field has everything to do with finding and exploiting space. Is this not also the primary obsession of the nation of Holland that has fought to reclaim land from the sea for almost its entire modern history. Winner illuminates his theory with brilliant examples from architecture, literature and society to create an absorbing book.

Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey–and Even Iraq–Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport
by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski

Does for football what Michael Lewis’ Moneyball did for baseball. This book tries to understand the global game using hard statistics. Although some of their findings will cause some to scratch their heads, the point of the book is to get people to look at football a different way. And it succeeds admirably.

In one particularly fascinating section, the authors look at why exactly the vast majority of footballers come from disadvantaged backgrounds. In another, it considers whether hosting football tournaments like the World Cup actually generates real benefits to taxpayers. In its final chapter, Soccernomics looks at penalties in a purely statistical way.

Jogo Bonito: Pele, Neymar and Brazil’s Beautiful Game by Henrik Brandão Jönsson

Jönsson tells eight different stories. The sections on the Maracanazo, Garrincha and Corinthian Democracy are the most illuminating. The author explains how football has become such an integral part of the socio-political fabric of modern Brazil. And the consequences of all that.

This book is not the definitive history of football in Brazil. Those interested in a more comprehensive history of football in the South American giant should read David Goldblatt’s Futebol Nation: The Story of Brazil through Soccer and/or Alex Bellos’ Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life.

I am Zlatan by Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic chronicles his journey from a troubled childhood to his days at AC Milan in his own words. What makes the Swedish striker’s autobiography worth reading over players like Pele and Maradona, is that he cares little about what people think of him.

It is full of interesting stories, humour and a surprising amount of heart. His experiences under some of the game’s biggest personalities like Jose Mourinho, Fabio Capello and especially Pep Guardiola is well worth reading. It is an thoroughly absorbing read.

Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World’s Greatest Sports Rivalry by Sid Lowe

Fans of both clubs and football in general will be drawn to the unique way these two giants have been connected over the years. Lowe tells the story in an impartial, detailed and interesting way.

He is also not afraid to break down many of the myths surrounding the rivalry, including the perception that Real Madrid was Franco’s team and that Barcelona was persecuted because of it.  It also captures how the rivalry reflects many of the deep divisions in Spanish society today.

William_Carvalhoccdndotrecorddotxldotpt

Portugal continues to produce talent at a rate not seen for some time. This year, there were a high number of Portuguese youngsters flourishing in Europe’s top leagues as well.

Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and Lorient left-back Raphaël Guerreiro established themselves as two of Ligue 1’s most exciting young players. While Udinese midfielder Bruno Fernandes is a budding star in Serie A, a league that has not been kind to Portuguese talent in recent seasons.

And as always, the Primeira Liga continued to be fertile ground for promising young home grown talent. The clubs outside the traditional ‘Big Three’ in particular have in recent seasons put their faith in developing players from their academy, perhaps adjusting to new economic realities.

Of those selected to be on the list, four have received a call-up to the National Team. While Braga midfielder Rafa Silva and Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho, will both be representing the Seleção at the World Cup this summer.

Here now is a list of the top Portuguese revelations from this past season.

STARTING XI:

Anthony Lopes, Olympique Lyonnais, Goalkeeper

23-year-old Anthony Lopes won the starting position at French club Olympique Lyonnais in training camp last summer and has been solid since. His season almost came to an abrupt end when he suffered a serious back injury in early November. He returned only five weeks later and has remained first-choice.

Lopes was on Paulo Bento’s provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup before being left out in favour of more established veterans. But his future remains very bright. He helped lead Olympique Lyonnais to a fifth place finish in a increasingly competitive Ligue 1, conceding only 34 goals in 32 League appearances for the French club. That includes 13 clean sheets.

Paulo Oliveira, Vitória Guimarães, Centre Back

An immensely promising talent from Vitória Guimarães’ academy. The young centre back demonstrated this season that he has the athleticism and football IQ needed to be a top level defender. Sporting Lisbon recently signed him to a five-year contract where he is expected to compete for a starting position next season.

He is already very accomplished despite only being 22-years-old. He won the Portuguese Cup last season with Vitória Guimarães. This season, Oliveira played in the Europa League before the club was eliminated in the group stage. With Bruno Alves and Pepe both over 30, Oliveira could be an option for the Seleção soon if he continues to progress as a player.

Miguel Rodrigues, Nacional, Centre Back

Another very promising defender. Rodrigues started 29 matches this season and was the focal point of a solid Nacional defense. Rodrigues was a major reason the Madeira club finished a better than expected fifth in the League table. The club conceded only 33 goals in 30 League matches this season overall.

Although he has only playd one full season in the Primeira Liga, many people are expecting a lot from him in the future. Together with Paulo Oliveira and Tiago Ilori, Rodrigues is part of a group of highly promising Portuguese central defenders that could conceivably reach the heights of the Seleção .

Raphaël Guerreiro, FC Lorient, Left-Back

An offensively gifted full-back who has enjoyed a very good breakthrough season with Ligue 1 club FC Lorient. Like Anthony Lopes, Guerreiro was born and began playing football in France. However, he has chosen to represent the country of his father internationally. The 20-year-old has already played for Portugal’s Under-21 squad.

This season, Guerreiro has shown excellent attacking instincts and has become known for delivering good crosses into the box. His style is very well-suited for the Portuguese game and according to some sources Paulo Bento is said to be monitoring his progress. However, he still needs to improve his defensive play.

Diogo Figueiras, Sevilla, Right-Back

Portuguese observers should already be well aware of this 22-year-old full-back from his time at Paços Ferreira. In his first season at La Liga club Sevilla, Figueiras started 19 League matches for the club and helped them win the Europa League. He has proved to be a strong offensive threat down the right-side and could even play further up the pitch.

Figueiras still needs to improve the defensive side of his game. He still commits far too many fouls. In La Liga this season, Figueiras picked up nine yellow cards and one red card in 22 total appearances. And he served a four-match ban for verbally abusing a referee. However, this is not an uncommon problem with many young attacking full-backs.

William Carvalho, Sporting Lisbon, Defensive Midfielder

William Carvalho leads a very strong group of midfielders on the list. The Sporting Lisbon defensive midfielder was one of the outstanding performers this season in the Portuguese league. And big things are expected of him next month at the World Cup where he is likely to anchor the Portuguese midfield.

Carvalho is most often compared to former French international Patrick Vieira. The 22-year-old has great positioning, makes goods decisions with the ball and could also contribute offensively. He received his first international cap in the decisive World Cup qualifying match against Sweden. And he put in an excellent performance in a recent friendly against Cameroon.

Rafa Silva, Sporting Braga, Attacking Midfielder/Winger

21-year-old Rafael Ferreira Silva has enjoyed an impressive rise over the last 12 months. He was signed from second division side Feirense last summer and was recently selected to Portugal’s World Cup squad. He will be looked upon to provide some creativity from the bench.

Silva has demonstrated this season that he has the skill level and vision to be an elite player. However, like many gifted young players he needs to learn how to play as part of a system. Braga had a difficult season, having fired veteran manager Jesualdo Ferreira. But under the right direction, Rafa could just become the playmaker Portugal has sought since the retirement of Deco four years ago.

Bruno Fernandes, Udinese, Attacking Midfielder

19-year-old Bruno Fernandes is former Boavista youth player who spend the 2012-13 season in Serie B with Novara. After helping the club to promotion, Fernandes was signed by Udinese last summer. He began this past season in the club’s reserve squad before earning a position in the starting line-up.

Fernandes would end the season as one of Udinese’s most important players, playing behind striker Antonio Di Natale. The young midfielder scored four goals and notched another six assists in 24 League matches for the Italian club, helping them remain in Serie A.

Carlos Mané, Sporting Lisbon, Winger

The young Sporting Lisbon winger could just emerge as one of Portugal’s great players. The 20-year-old was primarily used in Cup matches in the first half of the season. He scored a spectacular goal from just beyond the box in a League Cup match against Marítimo in January. In the second half, Sporting manager Leonardo Jardim began using him more often in League matches.

His talent is so evident that Manchester United is said to be very interested in signing him, despite the fact that he has yet to play an entire season in top flight. With Diego Capel and André Carrillo likely to leave this summer, Mané could be an automatic starter with Sporting Lisbon next season.

Ricardo Horta, Vitória Setúbal, Winger

A very promising attacker who was relatively unknown until this season. Horta was a Benfica youth player before signing with Vitória Setúbal in 2011. The club surprised everyone by finishing a better than expected seventh in the League total. Horta started hitting top gear in February after the arrival of João Mário on loan from Sporting Lisbon.

He would score six of his seven goals this season from February onwards. Horta has been selected for Portugal’s U19 and U20 squads as well. Sporting Lisbon are said to be interested in signing the youngster but Setúbal may not be willing to give him up so soon.

Bebé, Manchester United (On Loan at Paços de Ferreira), Striker

One of the great individual stories from this season in Portugal. Written off by so many in the media, the 23-year-old scored 12 goals in 27 appearances for Paços de Ferreira. That includes 11 goals in his final 16 matches. He also scored the opening goal in Paços de Ferreira’s 3-1 play-off win against Desportivo das Aves that assured that the club would remain in the Primeira Liga.

Bebé demonstrated that precocious talent that was not immediately evident while at Old Trafford and in previous loan spells. He scored an excellent volley against Braga in January which seemed to have given him a renewed sense of confidence. In a March League match against Arouca, he back-heeled a pass to himself before scoring. And now a move to one of Portugal’s biggest club’s seems likely.

SUBSTITUTES:

Miguel Vitor, PAOK, Central Defender

Luis Martins, Gil Vicente, Left-Back

Tiago Silva, Belenenses, Central Midfielder

Danilo Pereira, Marítimo, Central Defender/Defensive Midfielder

João Mário, Sporting Lisbon (On Loan at Vitória Setúbal), Central Midfielder

Fredy, Belenenses, Winger

Ivan Cavaleiro, Benfica, Winger

Related Posts:

FEATURE: 15 Young Players Who Could Play For Portugal At The World Cup

FEATURE: The Top Breakthrough Performers So Far This Season

SCOUTING REPORT: Olympique Lyonnais Goalkeeper Anthony Lopes Hopes To Realize World Cup ‘Dream’

SCOUTING REPORT: FC Lorient Left-Back Raphaël Guerreiro Is Enjoying A Breakout Season In Ligue 1

Scout Report – William Carvalho

SCOUTING REPORT: Udinese Midfielder Bruno Fernandes Could Be The Playmaker Portugal Needs

SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Braga Midfielder Rafa Silva Is A Potential Future Star

SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Lisbon’s Carlos Mané Scores Brilliant Goal Against Marítimo

PLAYER PROFILE: Is Manchester United ‘Flop’ Bebé The Real Deal Afterall?

PLAYER PROFILE: Former Benfica Defender Miguel Vitor Loving Life In Greece

SCOUTING REPORT: Benfica’s Ivan Cavaleiro Is Hoping To Break Into The Senior Squad

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.”

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

Portuguese sports website Maisfutebol is reporting that Ricardo Quaresma will sign a two and a half-year deal with FC Porto. The contract could be finalized as early as this week.

The Portuguese winger rescinded his contract with Dubai-based club Al Ahli and is expected to return to the club where he had the best moments of his career. Quaresma would arrive as a free agent which means the club will not pay a transfer fee.

Maisfutebol is reporting that the 30-year-old was in Porto last week and has now settled into a house north of the city. Porto manager Paulo Fonseca is currently planning to integrate Quaresma into training, according to the same reports.

Supremely talented, but with a volatile personality, Ricardo Quaresma never really fulfilled the potential many people had of him when he burst onto the scene.

He is best known for his exceptional ability, in particular the famous ‘trivela,’ which consists of striking the ball with the outside of the foot with great voracity. Goalkeepers were unable to read which direction the ball would be going until it was often too late.

A product of Sporting Lisbon’s famed academy, Ricardo Quaresma dazzled fans in his early days with the club. In 2003, he received his first call-up to the Portuguese national team. His performances earned him a transfer to FC Barcelona that same year.

At this time, most people considered him a better prospect than even Cristiano Ronaldo, who is two years younger. Ronaldo would move to Manchester United in 2003 and the rest as they say is history.

At Barcelona, Quaresma did not have a particularly great season, and fell-out with then manager Frank Rijkaard. A sign of things to come. Refusing to play for the club any longer, Quaresma moved to FC Porto.

Between 2004-08, Quaresma enjoyed the best years of his career. He won three league titles with the club and was named the best player in the league in 2006.

In 2008 he moved to Serie A club Inter Milan, who were then coached by José Mourinho. He saw very little game action over his two years at the Italian club. Quaresma’s attitude is said to have been a problem. He played no role in Inter’s 2009-10 Champions League win.

Quaresma was released ahead of the 2010-11 season. He signed with Turkish club Beşiktaş where he put together some good performances the next two seasons. He was re-called to the Portuguese national team and was even selected for Euro 2012.

But his personality would once again be a problem. At Beşiktaş he clashed with Portuguese manager Carlos Carvalhal and eventually the club released him. He signed with Al Ahli in January 2013.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Fanny Schertzer

The following is an overview of a three-part feature series by Futebol Factory that profiled some of Portugal’s most promising footballers.

Last year, Josué, Tiago Ilori, Bruma and Amido Baldé established themselves as potential Seleção players. This year’s list of players is just as rich in quantity and quality.

In January 2014, Futebol Factory will release a mid-season review of all 21 players listed in this series. Each player will receive a letter grade based on their performance in the unofficial first half of the season.

Here now is a complete summary of the 21 Portuguese youngsters that could break out this season.

Goalkeepers:

Anthony Lopes (Olympique Lyonnais)
José Sá (Maritimo)

Defenders:

Raphaël Guerreiro (FC Lorient)
Roderick Miranda (Rio Ave)
Miguel Vitor (PAOK)
Ricardo Ferreira (Olhanense)
Nuno Reis (Sporting Lisbon)
Flávio Ferreira (Malaga)
Diogo Figueiras (Sevilla)

Midfielders:

Danilo Pereira (Marítimo)
Luís Gustavo (Rio Ave)
William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon)
João Mário (Sporting Lisbon)
Filipe Chaby (Sporting Lisbon)
Ricardo Alves (Belenenses)
Tiago Silva (Belenenses)
Sérgio Oliveira (FC Porto, On Loan at Paços de Ferreira)
Rafa (Sporting Braga)

Forwards:

Ricardo Esgaio (Sporting Lisbon)
Aladje (Sassuolo)
Nelson Oliveira (Benfica, On Loan at Rennes)

Related Posts:

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 1

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 2

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 3

TRANSFER WINDOW: Benfica Striker Nélson Oliveira Officially Joins Rennes On One-Year Loan Deal

PORTUGAL: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

Marítimo Goalkeeper José Sá Hopes To See Regular Action

Marítimo Goalkeeper José Sá Hopes To See Regular Action

This is the third and final article of a feature series exclusive to Futebol Factory that profiles the most promising Portuguese youngsters. Later this week, this website will be publishing an overview of all 21 players named in our series.

Here now are the last seven Portuguese young players that could have break out seasons this year.

José Sá, Maritimo, Goalkeeper

The 20-year old made a big name for him self this summer at the U20 World Cup. He certainly raised his profile in Maritimo’s opening match this season against Benfica, back stopping the Madeira-based club to a 2-1 win. The former Benfica youth player looks to have a bright future ahead of him.

With Maritimo’s former number one goalkeeper Romain Salin departing to Rio Ave, manager Pedro Martins has no proven goalkeeper. This could be his year to establish himself as a starting goalkeeper and perhaps an option for the Seleção.

Nuno Reis, Sporting Lisbon, Centre Back

A promising player whose future looks uncertain at the moment. Reis formed an excellent partnership at the centre of defence with Rio Ave’s Roderick Miranda at the 2011 U20 World Cup where Portugal finished second. He played with Olhanense last season.

The 22-year old does not appear to be part of Sporting manager Leonardo Jardim’s immediate plans. Currently playing with Sporting B squad in the second division, a loan deal seems likely.

Ricardo Ferreira, Olhanense, Centre Back

Born to Portuguese parents in Canada, Ricardo Ferreira is a former FC Porto youth player. In 2011, he was signed by Serie A giants AC Milan but never played a professional match for them. Last year, he was loaned to Serie B squad Empoli where he found playing time difficult to come by.

Ferreira was released this past summer by the Italian club and signed with Olhanense. He should find more playing time with Abel Xavier club, but unless the former Portuguese international proves to be a better manager than most people expect, the Algarve-club should be battling hard to stay in the top division.

Diogo Figueiras, Sevilla, Right-Back

The 22-year old was signed by La Liga club Sevilla this summer after an impressive season at Paços Ferreira. The club’s sporting director Monchi has praised his speed and technical ability, although it looks like he will have to play second-fiddle to Coke for now.

Figueiras lists former Sevilla right-back Dani Alves as a personal role model. He told journalists at his official unveiling in July, “Daniel Alves (Now with FC Barcelona) is an inspiration to me because he is the best full-back in the world. I am an ambitious player and I hope that I could one day reach his level. I am an offensive-minded full-back.”

Flávio Ferreira, Malaga, Centre Back/Defensive Midfielder

Signed by Malaga in the summer from Académica, where he primarily played at centre back last season. The 21-year old could also pay in defensive midfield. As of late August, Ferreira was battling a back injury that was to be evaluated from week to week.

With Malaga losing several quality players and their manager this summer, Ferreira could be given an opportunity to shine this year at the Estadio La Rosaleda. He should feel very welcome in Andalusia this season with Portuguese players Duda, Eliseu and Vitorino Antunes on the squad.

Ricardo Alves, Belenenses, Midfielder

Newly-promoted clubs are always likely to have exciting young talented. 20-year old Ricardo Alves played himself into Belenenses’ starting XI last season when promotion was all but assured. His performances were enough to earn him a spot of Portugal’s U20 World Cup squad where he played three matches.

This season in the top division, the suburban Lisbon club are still without a proven goal scorer and will likely rely on its creativity in midfield to win matches. Alves will be counted on to produce this season.

Tiago Silva, Belenenses, Midfielder

Another promising midfielder at Belenenses. Silva played regularly last season in the second division, scoring four goals in 31 matches for the club. Silva, along with Ricardo Alves could provide the basis for a strong Belenenses midfield this year.

The 20-year old is more attack-minded than Alves and will need to be good this season if Mitchell van der Gaag’s club is to prevent relegation. They got off to a poor start in match day one with a 3-0 defeat at home to Rio Ave.

Related posts

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 1

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 2

PORTUGAL: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

Anthony Lopes Has Shown Some Great Promise With Lyon This Pre-Season

Anthony Lopes Has Shown Some Great Promise With Lyon This Pre-Season

Futebol Factory is profiling some of Portugal’s most promising young talent in three feature articles ahead of the new football season.

Anthony Lopes, Olympique Lyonnais, Goalkeeper

A quality goalkeeper that has played for Portugal at the U21 level. French-born Lopes played the last 5 Ligue 1 matches last season for the French club and has already figured prominently in Europa League qualifying matches so far this month. He also impressed in Lyon’s 4-0 defeat of Nice in the first match of the Ligue 1 season.

The French-club is currently without a proven stopper and could be tempted to go with Lopes. They have also shown some great faith in him by signing Lopes to a contract extension that will see him stay with the club until 2016. Rui Patrício is the uncontested Portuguese number one but it never hurts to have a quality alternative.

Miguel Vitor, PAOK, Centre Back

Unceremoniously released by Benfica this off season, the central defender was quickly signed by Greek giants PAOK. Vitor has played alongside former Benfica player Kostas Katsouranis in PAOK’s Europa League qualifying matches against Metalist Kharkiv.

A very prominant figure with Portugal’s U21 squads, the 24-year old is expected to finally get his chance to play everyday in Greece. A chance he was never really given in Portugal. He joins a club that has been good to Portuguese talent in the past, including Sérgio Conceição and Vieirinha.

Ricardo Esgaio, Sporting Lisbon, Winger/Right-Back

An exciting player who is a big part of Sporting’s amazing pool of young talent. The 20-year old recently signed a long-term extension with the club that will see him under contract until 2018. He also played in the U20 World Cup.

Supremely talented and versatile, Esgaio scored 17 goals in 27 matches for Sporting B squad in the second division last year. However, this might not yet be the year that Esgaio makes the big leap to the senior side. Sporting has depth on the wings, and Leonardo Jardim might decide that it is better for him to continue to develop in the second division or possibly on loan.

Sérgio Oliveira, FC Porto (On Loan at Paços de Ferreira), Midfielder

Sérgio Oliveira has been in the spotlight since he was the youngest player ever to play for FC Porto’s senior side at the age of 17. He has found opportunities at the Cidade Invicta very limited since then, being loaned out to several clubs in recent years.

He played last season with Porto’s B squad in the second division, scoring 5 goals in 29 matches. Still only 21 years of age, Oliveira should receive playing time at Paços de Ferreira. A natural central midfielder, Oliveira is a free-kick specialist.

João Mário, Sporting Lisbon, Midfielder

Recently signed to a long-term extension, João Mário is one of the most talked about young players in Portugal today. The central midfielder captained Portugal’s U20 squad at this summer’s World Cup. For many it has always been a matter of when, not if.

Sporting’s new manager Leonardo Jardim has shown a willingness to ‘test’ young players in the past with Braga. However, João Mário might find it hard to play regularly this season because of the club’s investments in Adrien Silva, Andre Martins, Andre Santos and Zakaria Labyad.

Filipe Chaby, Sporting Lisbon, Attacking Midfielder

Another supremely promising midfielder from Sporting’s famed academy. The 19-year old missed most of last season with a serious knee injury however, he has played very well this summer in exhibition matches for the senior squad.

Recently signed to a long-term extension, Chaby will be hard-pressed to earn a position on Leonardo Jardim’s starting XI given the club’s depth in young midfielders. However, Chaby is certainly a player to watch going forward.

Aladje, Sassuolo, Striker

Born in Guinea-Bissau and currently playing in Italy, Aladje has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last two months. A surprise addition to Portugal’s squad for the U20 Toulon Tournament, Aladje wrestled the starting striker position away from Betinho. He would score 3 goals in 4 matches at the U20 World Cup and was even profiled in an article on the FIFA website.

Until now he has only played football in Italy’s lower division but this appears likely to change after he moved to Serie B graduates Sassuolo this summer. Aladje is part of a promising generation of young Portuguese strikers that could finally deliver the country a major trophy.

Related Posts:

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 1

FEATURE: 7 Portuguese Young Players Who Could Break Out This Season, Part 3

PORTUGAL: 7 Young Players That Could Help The Seleção Reach World Cup 2014

rolando-espere-aller-au-milan-ac

FC Porto defender Rolando will return to Italy this season after finalizing a one-year loan deal with Serie A giants Inter Milan, according to the Nerazzurri website.

The move reunites the 27-year old with former Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri who moved to San Siro this summer. Rolando played 7 matches for Napoli last season after joining the club on loan in January.

The deal is rumoured to include an option to sign Rolando to a permanent deal at the end of the campaign.

Rolando’s professional career began at Belenenses in 2004 before moving to FC Porto in 2008. He would eventually become an automatic starter under Jesualdo Ferreira.

In 2010-11 he had his best season under current Tottenham manager André Villas-Boas when the club won the Portuguese league title and the Europa League as well.

However, he did not fair very well under previous manager Vitor Pereira losing his starting position in the process.

Rolando was born in Cape Verde but has represented Portugal internationally, receiving 18 caps with the Seleção.

Related Posts:

TRANSFER MARKET: Napoli Offers 7 Million Euros for Porto Defender Rolando

TRANSFER WINDOW: Porto’s Rolando Signs With Napoli On Loan

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Anual

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Anual

Promising forward Salvador Agra will be playing football in Braga for the next two seasons, according to several reports in Portugal. The 21-year-old who struggled to hold down a starting position under Pepe Mel at Real Betis last season will reportedly sign a two-year loan deal with Os Guerreiros do Minho.

As part of the deal between the two clubs, Spanish winger Juan Carlos will remain on loan at the La Liga club for one more season. Agra’s deal includes an option to buy the Portuguese winger for €4million.

Agra began playing football in the Varzim youth ranks before signing with Olhanense in 2011. He was sold to La Liga’s Real Betis in 2012. Agra was loaned to Serie A club Siena in January 2013 to gain more playing time.

Related Posts:

SPORTING BRAGA: Jesualdo Ferreira Replaces José Peseiro As Manager

TRANSFER WINDOW: Rafa Signs Four-Year Deal With Braga

TRANSFER WINDOW: Real Betis Forward Salvador Agra Loaned to Siena

rafa-silva-onsoccer-feirense

Sporting Braga have confirmed that they have signed highly-rated midfielder Rafa to a five-year deal. The 20-year old played in the second division last season with Feirense, scoring 9 goals in 40 matches.

Rafa drew strong interest from Sporting Lisbon as well before signing with the Minho club. He trained with his new club on Monday. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Braga also announced that Portuguese international goalkeeper Eduardo Carvalho has joined the club on a one-year loan deal. Eduardo’s rights are owned by Serie A club Genoa. He played for Braga between 2005-2010 before leaving for Italy.

Related Posts:

SCOUTING REPORT: Sporting Braga Midfielder Rafa Silva Is A Potential Future Star

SPORTING BRAGA: 2012-13 Portuguese League Cup Champions

SPORTING BRAGA: Jesualdo Ferreira Replaces José Peseiro As Manager