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Best Portuguese football players in 2021

Wed 25 August 2021 | 19:29

Only one name springs to mind when talking about the best Portuguese national team; Let’s see who the next wonderkids to make headlines for Portugal will be in 2021.

When we talk about football, we can't forget to mention Portugal because the popularity of football is tremendous among the nation. That's the reason that this country has produced many greatest football players of all time.

There have seen plenty of Portugal's great football stars. But do you know who tops the list of the

best Portuguese Players in 2021

? Read on to find out more about Portugal national football squad 2021.

Season of 2020/21 has ended, and the calendar year of 2021 is also going to end soon. The year in which EURO2020 happened in addition to European domestic leagues and international competitions.

Portuguese players have been making huge progress since their championship in EURO 2016, and now, Portugal national football squad 2021 is said to be one of the best in their history, being made up of players who are not only the best players in their clubs, but they are even among the best players of the league they play in.

Many of these Portuguese players have spent a great year, both on individual and team level. From

Bruno Fernandes

, who was Premier League’s best player of 20/21 season as said by many pundits, to Ruben Dias who was voted FWA Football Player of the Year, and Bernardo Silva with his astonishing performances in Manchester City.

Joao Felix

has also had a wonderful year with Atletico Madrid, and surely, Cristiano Ronaldo’s name can’t be unmentioned. Joao Cancelo, Sergio Oliveira, Pedro Goncalves, and Diogo Jota are the other players who deserve to be in the list of best Portuguese Players of 20/21.

It is interesting to know that a recent study found that only 4.6 percent of all minutes played by footballers in Portugal’s top flight have been given to homegrown talents – or players who have represented the club for at least three seasons between the ages of 15 and 21. That was the lowest figure in any of Europe’s biggest 27 leagues, compared with 12.7 percent in England and 15.5 percent in Spain.

Best Portuguese Players in 2021:

Winners of the inaugural UEFA Nations League and the 2016 European Championship, Portugal’s talisman,

Cristiano Ronaldo

, is growing older and edging closer to retirement. Thus, the national side is hoping for the next generation to start coming through and replicating their recent tournament successes.

In this article, we are going to take a look at the

best Portuguese players in 2021

, and give a brief overview of their stats, achievements, and performances within 20/21 season. These players gained so much love and respect not only among Portuguese people but also all around the world because of their strenuous efforts.

Cristiano Ronaldo

  • Full name: Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro

  • Date of birth: 5 February 1985 (age 36)

  • Place of birth: Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

  • Height: 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)

  • Position(s): Forward

Regarded as not only one of the top

best Portuguese footballers of all time

, but one of the greatest football players ever, the never-ending Cristiano Ronaldo is still shining at the age of 36.

He was Serie A’s top scorer with 29 goals within 33 appearances. He also helped I Bianconeri win the Coppa Italia as well as the Italian Super Cup.

Moreover, CR7 netted 4 in 6 UEFA Champions League games, 2 in the Coppa Italia, and 1 in the Italian Super Cup. Overall, Cristiano scored 36 goals and provided 4 assists within 44 appearances for Juventus last season, which with regard to his age and compared to other players when they are 36, is an extraordinary record.

To make his performance even more luminous, Cristiano was EURO 2020 leading goal scorer with 5 goals (jointly with Czech Republic’s Patrick Schick). However,

Portugal

was not able to proceed further than the round of 16 where they were eliminated by Belgium.

The same as each and every last 15 years, Cristiano has been one of the Best Portuguese Players

of the year, if not “the Best”.

Ronaldo is surely one of the most influential players in the modern age. There are no other Portuguese players in the modern era who can dominate a game, a team, even a league like Ronaldo.

Some say that the sheer number of goals that Ronaldo has scored makes it obvious that he is the greatest ever. 118 for United, 450 at Real and as for Juventus – well, he’s only just begun. But as every fantasy player knows, there’s more to footballing success than finding the back of the net.

In terms of goals, Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest scoring Portuguese soccer player. In addition to scoring, Ronaldo was also the youngest player to reach 100 caps; accomplishing that feat at the age of 27. Those records alone makes him one of the most famous footballers from Portugal.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos could not help but shrug his shoulders and smile when asked whether his side were stronger without Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I don't think any team in the world can perform better when its best player is not around," he replied in a news conference.

As a national hero, the 36-year-old superstar has never left the spotlight for his country, except for a nine-month absence following the team's elimination at the last-16 stage of the 2018 World Cup. He was given a rest after moving from Real Madrid to Juventus that summer.

On the other hand, unsurprisingly, Portugal become a much more predictable side. "The truth is that any team that faces Portugal nowadays knows that most of the balls are addressed to Ronaldo.

Even though you have players like Felix, Jota, Bernardo and others like

Pedro Neto

coming through, you don't see much of that unpredictability that they are capable of providing with their clubs through line-breaking passes and in one-on-one situations,” said a football pundit.

Despite being the most successful footballer ever to wear Portugal's shirt, with 102 goals for his country, there have been suggestions that Ronaldo actually arrived on the scene at the wrong time from an international perspective - too late to play with the golden generation of Luis Figo, Rui Costa, Joao Vieira Pinto, Fernando Couto and Paulo Sousa; too early to spend much time with the current crop of stars.

Regardless of that, Ronaldo will surely be around until at least the 2022 World Cup.

Bruno Fernandes

  • Full name: Bruno Miguel Borges Fernandes

  • Date of birth: 8 September 1994 (age 27)

  • Place of birth: Maia, Portugal

  • Height: 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)

  • Position(s): Attacking midfielder

Widely considered as one of the current best players in the world, Manchester United’s attacking midfielder had a stunning season with the Red Devils, especially on individual level.

Although the team did not win any major trophies, they were the Premier League and Europe League’s runner-up. Regarded as one of the

best Portuguese players

, Bruno took part in 37 Premier League matches for Man United last season, within which he scored 18 goals and provided 11 assists, meaning that he was the league’s 3rd top scorer, and 2nd best assist provider, and no other midfielder has been above him in each of those rankings.

Furthermore, with 2.6 key passes per match, Bruno Fernandes was ranked 3rd behind Kevin De bruyne and Jack Grealish. In addition, he created 20 big chances in the last season, more than any other player in the league.

Besides his brilliant performance in the domestic league, the Portuguese man shone in the Europe League as well, where with 5 goals and 4 assists within 9 matches, he played the key role in

Manchester United

reaching the final match, although they lost it to Villareal in penalties with the amazing score of 11 – 10.

Manchester United had been placed 3rd in their group stage in 20/21 UEFA Champions League before entering the Europe League, and Bruno’s performance in the UCL was satisfying as well: 4 goals and 1 assist within 6 games.

Although the club did not manage to win any major trophy last season, United Fans are extremely hopeful toward the team’s future with the leadership of the Portuguese man. With him in the squad, Manchester United seems a far more dangerous team rather than without him, and they seem to be winning something in the upcoming years.

Nonetheless, Bruno Fernandes could not replicate his amazing performances throughout the season in the EURO 2020, and left the tournament without any goals or assists after 4 games.

Fantasy football asset will be one of the key players for Portugal in their upcoming matches. The midfielder, who enjoyed a stellar season at Manchester United, will hope to do at the mega event to continue the plaudits that have been raining on him since his move to Old Trafford.

With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Diogo Jota leading the line, Fernandes hopes to find his name in the assists tally frequently during the upcoming tournaments.

Ruben Dias

  • Full name: Rúben dos Santos Gato Alves Dias

  • Date of birth: 14 May 1997 (age 24)

  • Place of birth: Amadora, Portugal

  • Height: 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)

  • Position(s): Centre-back

The 24-year-old defender joined

Manchester City

from Benfica in the summer of 2020, and it took him only one season to be named FWA (Football Writers’ Association) Footballer of the Year (2020/21), Manchester City Player of the Year, and Premier League Player of the Season.

The powerful defender appeared in 32 Premier League games for the Citizens, and was one of their most pivotal players on the way to win the PL title. His presence in defense and his astonishing defensive performance helped Manchester City’s goal keeper, Ederson Moares, win the League’s Golden Glove with 19 clean sheets.

Furthermore, Dias recorded the league’s most accurate passes per match (79), performed 0.8 tackles per match, 1.1 interceptions per match, and 2.8 clearances per game. In addition, he also played an important role Manchester City’s reaching the final match of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history, where he performed 1.3 tackles per match, 1.5 interceptions, and 2 clearances.

Dias participated in EURO 2020 with Portuguese national team but did not have a decent performance, similar to most of his teammates. Dias was expected to be the future of the Portugal side and the Euro 2020 could have been the start for his rise to greatness in his home country.

Regarded as one of the best Portuguese players in 2021, Ruben Dias was also included in PFA Premier League Team of the Year (2020/21), UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season (2020/21), and ESM (European Sports Media) Team of the Season (2020/21). He also won the English League Cup with Man City last season.

Jose Mourinho

once said that he feels Manchester City center-back Ruben Dias is the best defender in the world, “Ruben Dias is the best center back in the world now. With his move to the Premier League with Man City, he is getting a different level of knowledge. He is a fantastic center back.”

However, such high praise hasn't come without some magnificent performances!

Dias has shown incredible confidence in himself, and an amazing winning mentality, by claiming he's the best Portuguese defender ever.

Bernardo Silva

  • Full name: Bernardo Mota Veiga de Carvalho e Silva

  • Date of birth: 10 August 1994 (age 27)

  • Place of birth: Lisbon, Portugal

  • Height: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)

  • Position(s): Midfielder, winger

Another Manchester City player whose name is in the list of the best Portuguese players in 2021 is

Bernardo Silva

. Although this was not his best year in terms of the number of goals and assists, his importance for Pep Guardiola’s team in last season’s achievements is quite obvious.

He appeared in 26 Premier League games, scored 2 goals and provided 6 assists. He also scored 1 goal and provided 2 assists in the UEFA Champions League. Overall, Silva scored 5 goals and recorded 9 assist within 45 matches for the Citizens last season, and helped them achieve the PL title as well as the English League Cup.

Bernardo was included in

Portugal national football squad 2021

for the EURO, but did not find any success with his team in that competition. He was meant to be Ronaldo's successor but Man City star is struggling to shine for Portugal.

Bernardo’s tireless running and impudent skill marked him out as the leader of a new generation of Portuguese players ready to take over from a team understandably built around the brilliance of their superstar, Ronaldo.

He also finished eighth in the Ballon d’Or at the end of the year – higher than any other City player – and, at 24, seemed destined to take his place among Europe’s elite.

Pep Guardiola

once said that Manchester City playmaker Bernardo Silva is one of the best three players in the Premier League and Portugal's star performer,“

"Portugal is fortunate to have him, the manager [Fernando Santos] will use him every time more and more. He is a lovely guy - I love him, it's simple like that."

Pedro Goncalves

  • Full name: Pedro António Pereira Gonçalves

  • Date of birth: 28 June 1998 (age 23)

  • Place of birth: Vidago, Portugal

  • Height: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)

  • Position(s): Attacking midfielder

Signed by the Portuguese club to replace Fernandes in the summer, he’s made the step up brilliantly and could soon be set to make another step forward.

Sporting CP

won the Primeira Liga 2020/21 after 19 years. Within those 19 seasons in between Sporting CP’s championships, the title had only been won by either Benfica or Porto.

One of the Sporting CP’s most decisive players throughout the way to achieve this triumph was without a doubt Pedro Gocalves, whose performance convinced us to name him in the list of best Portuguese players in 2021.

The 23-year-old attacking midfielder featured in 32 league games and with 23 goals, was the Primeira Liga’s top scorer, even though he was not an attacker. Moreover, he also recorded 4 assists. His shining was mostly in the domestic league, and Sporting CP fans are hopeful they can have a powerful presence in 21/22 UEFA Champions League with Gocanlves being in his best form.

 “My strength is not talking, I like playing football more,” Goncalves said after signing for Sporting.

“I am a player who likes to have the ball, react to the loss and who accelerates well. It depends on the coaches. I adapt to any style of play.”

Joao Felix

  • Full name: João Félix Sequeira

  • Date of birth: 10 November 1999 (age 22)

  • Place of birth: Viseu, Portugal

  • Height: 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)

  • Position(s): Forward

The teenage forward has been lauded as one of the most exciting talents the nation has seen since the five-time Ballon d'Or winner. Regarded as one of the most promising football talents, the 22-year-old Joao Felix had a great year with Atletico Madrid, in which he helped the club win the La Liga.

Felix appeared in 31 league games for Atletico Madrid, scored 7 goals and recorded 6 assists. He also played in 8 UEFA Champions League games and scored 3 goals. Fans set high expectations from him ever since he came to Spain from Benfica with a transfer fee of €127.20m.

Although his performance has been fairly good, a lot more is expected from him with regard to the transfer fee as well as his age, and this young striker will probably shine brighter in the upcoming seasons. However, he is already one of the best Portuguese players.

"There is only one sure thing: Felix is one of the best talents produced by Portuguese football after Ronaldo," Vieira told in an interview.

"He has an incredible technique, he is fast and also very intelligent.

"He is also a good person, he shows he has important values that make me very proud.

"Obviously I'm happy. Now it is clear that our project of betting on young people is bearing the desired results."

Felix earned his first call-up to Portugal's senior squad alongside Ronaldo for the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers with Ukraine and Serbia, and he was an unused substitute as Fernando Santos' side drew 0-0 against the former.

There aren't many finer role models Felix could have in training, and the forward recently spoke of just how highly regarded Ronaldo is within the camp, "He's a phenomenal worker, an exemplary footballer for us all."

The 22-year-old, who appeared as a substitute in Portugal's 1-0 loss to Belgium at Euro 2020, has been in pain since December when he fractured his foot.

"Joao Felix was operated on his right ankle by Professor Niek van Dijk, from the University of Amsterdam," said Atletico club.

Roy Keane labelled Joao Felix an ‘imposter’ after the young player came off the bench and failed to score in Portugal’s 1-0 defeat to Belgium in the last 16 of Euro 2020 on Sunday night.

Diogo Jota

  • Full name: Diogo José Teixeira da Silva

  • Date of birth: 4 December 1996 (age 25)

  • Place of birth: Porto, Portugal

  • Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)

  • Position(s): Forward, winger

The 25-year-old winger has satisfied Liverpool fans since he joined them from Wolverhampton Wanerers in the September of 2020. During 2020/21 season,

Diogo Jota

featured only in 19 Premier League games, but he managed to score 9 within those 19 games, and was the club’s 3rd highest scorer after Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, who had participated in 37 and 35 games, respectively.

Furthermore, Jota played in 9 UEFA Champions League games within which he scored 4 goals and provided 1 assist. He has averaged near 0.5 goals per game since his arrival at Anfield, and the fans are extremely hopeful toward his future at the club.

Jota also played in all of Portugal’s 4 matches in the EURO 2020, and managed to score a goal and provide an assists in the 4 – 2 defeat against Germany. He was undoubtedly one of the

best Portuguese players in 2021

.

“At the time, it was complicated for any young player in Portugal to get into the first team,” Jota told reporters. “I’d always seen the possibility of playing abroad in a positive light. In order to adapt more easily, being able to communicate would be essential wherever I headed.

The Liverpool forward has certainly made a strong case for himself. After March’s round of internationals, he’d been directly involved in eight goals for Portugal this term – scoring six and assisting two more, in just five starts.

Although manager Fernando Santos insists that Ronaldo is the only player guaranteed a place in his preferred line-up, there’s a growing school of thought that the Selecao’s attacking trio should be Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, and Jota. Not even in his wildest dreams could the 25-year-old have envisioned where he is now.

Joao Cancelo

  • Full name: João Pedro Cavaco Cancelo

  • Date of birth: 27 May 1994 (age 27)

  • Place of birth: Barreiro, Portugal

  • Height: 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)

  • Position(s): Full-back

Manchester City’s full back has had one of the most successful years of his career. He helped his club win the Premier League as well as the English League Cup, and even though he played as a left back in many of the games despite being originally a right back, he has had a great performance in both of the positions. He played in 28 League games, scored 2 goals and provided 3 assists.

Moreover, he appeared in 9 UEFA Champions League games and helped is club reach the final match where they lost to Chelsea. Unfortunate for him, he tested positive for COVID – 19 only a few days before the start of UERO 2020, and his absence was one of the main reasons Portugal was only able to proceed to the round of 16.

Cancelo witnessed his mother die in a car accident when he was 18 and making her proud has been his focus ever since. The mourning kept

Cancelo

at home for approximately one month. He didn’t want to go to training and considered giving up football, but a conversation with his father changed everything. João returned with a well-defined mission: make his mother proud.

“I know that my mother is very proud of my journey. The only thing I lack is her. Today I have everything, I have a beautiful daughter, I also have a beautiful family and she deserved to see my success, more than anybody, but I know that she’s certainly proud of me,” he said during an interview.

The Portuguese defender struggled at the start of his City career, with just 13 Premier League starts in his first season. He took time to adapt to Pep Guardiola's tactical demands, and switched between covering right-back and left-back.

Sergio Oliveira

  • Full name: Sérgio Miguel Relvas de Oliveira

  • Date of birth: 2 June 1992 (age 29)

  • Place of birth: Paços de Brandão, Portugal

  • Height: 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)

  • Position(s): Central midfielder

FC Porto

midfielder

Sergio Oliveira

was one of the best Portuguese players last year. He played in 32 League games for his club, and in addition to scoring 13 goals, he also provided 6 assists.

Furthermore, he also scored 5 goals within 8 UEFA Champions League games, where they proceeded to the quarter finals and they were eliminated by the eventual champions, Chelsea.

They had won Juventus in the round of 16, and Oliveira played a huge part in that achievement. Overall, Sergio Oliveira scored 20 goals and provided 7 assists within 48 appearances for FC Porto last season, proving himself to be one of the best Portuguese players currently.

Sérgio Oliveira's status at the Portuguese team wasn't always so secure. "I'm at the peak of my career, but it wasn’t easy," the midfielder told reporters.

As a club member from infancy, he had several loan spells elsewhere, even leaving permanently for Paços de Ferreira at one point, before finally finding his footing under current boss Sérgio Conceição.

Oliveira’s main qualities are his offensive capacity and intelligence. Apart from technical and tactical attributes, Sergio’s mentality is one of his best characteristics, being one of the main reasons for his success. Not only has it seen him rise up the scoring charts, but it will also likely see him win a roster spot in the upcoming tournaments for Portugal.

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source: SportMob

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