Mon 03 January 2022 | 14:30

Best Primeira Liga Players in 2021

Sporting dominated Liga NOS in the 2020-21 season and is going horn-to-horn with Porto with two teams showcasing some of the best Portuguese football players in 2021. We gather the best Primeira Liga Players in 2021 as we look at the eventful year.

The Primeira Liga, which was named Liga NOS until the 2020-21 season and since then is known as Liga Portugal Bwin, is the top professional association football division of the Portuguese football league system. The competition in the league has grown with Sporting joining Porto and Benfica in the competition to win the Primeira Liga title after almost two decades in the 2020-21 season.

Sebastián Coates

won the Primeira Liga Player of the Year for the last season as the Sporting captain received the most votes from the coaches and captains of the sides participating in the Primeira Liga. Coates played 33 games of a possible 34 in the league and led the most solid defense in the competition by conceding just 20 goals all season. He beat teammates João Palhinha and Pedro Gonçalves in the voting. Although he is running to be the best player in Portugal League 2021, an incredible start to the new season of Luis Diaz is bringing him heavy competition as he had made a deadly duo with the Iranian striker, Mehdi Taremi. Diaz has scored 12 goals and provided three assists in 15 games so far this season.

In addition, when we talk about football, we can't forget to mention Portugal as 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. Portuguese players have been making huge progress since their championship in EURO 2016.

Here in the best Primeira Liga players in 2021, we look at some players that are among the best players of the league they play in.

All You Need to Know About Best Primeira Liga Players in 2021

In the following article, we are going to gather 20 perfect candidates for the best player in Portugal League 2021. In doing so, we find some of the best Portuguese football players in 2021 who will join the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Dias, and Diogo Jota that are playing in foreign leagues for the upcoming World Cup 2020.

Nuno Mendes

  • Nationality: Portugal

  • Club: Sporting

  • Age: 19

  • Position: Left-Back

We start our list of the best Primeira Liga players in 2021 with Sporting’s wonderkid,

Nuno Mendes


Before joining Paris Saint-Germain this summer for a €7m loan fee with an option to buy for €40m, the Portuguese had a splendid season at Sporting. He made 29 appearances, scoring 1 goal and providing an assist in addition to his defensive prowess that was essential in Sporting’s triumph of the league. The 19-year-old left-back earned first full international caps while winning the domestic double with Sporting.

Mendes joined the youth academy of Sporting CP at the age of 10. He made his professional debut in a 1–0 Primeira Liga home win against F.C. Paços de Ferreira on 12 June 2020, as a 72nd-minute substitute for Marcos Acuña. After Acuña left for Sevilla FC in the 2020 off-season, Mendes became the first choice for the Rúben Amorim-led side at only 18.

Whilst he hasn’t quite exploded to life in terms of goalscoring numbers, Mendes’ importance goes beyond statistics; playing as the left wing-back in Amorim’s 3-4-3, he provided a constant source of width and explosiveness whilst Pedro Gonçalves inverts from the left flank. In several games he has dribbled past several opposing players and nearly scored a goal himself. There is no doubt that he is one of the few young best-talented players.

Following Alex Teles' move to Manchester United, Mendes established himself as Portugal's best left-back due to a combination of speed, explosive movement, and close control that allows him to start from scratch.

Aside from his dribble, Mendes has an excellent ability to cross, and his physical strength allows him to outrun his opponents with his speed or strength. These abilities make the youngster one of the

best Portuguese football players in 2021

as well.


  • Nationality: Brazil/Portugal

  • Club: Porto

  • Age: 26

  • Position: Winger

Next in our list of the

best Primeira Liga players in 2021

is Porto’s Brazilian midfielder who is firing at the time by contributing 2 goals and 7 assists so far this season. He had a splendid season last season as well by contributing 3 goals and 8 assists.

In contrast to the most stereotypical wingers, Otavio isn't really known for his goal threat and instead focuses on using speed, agility, and movement to overwhelm defenders. He'll regularly cut inside from the wing to try and run the show in a central role, dragging defenders around and waiting for the perfect moment to pick the right pass.

26-year-old winger Otavio plays near enough everywhere for Porto but last season saw him most frequently deployed on the left of the midfield. Born and raised in Brazil he signed for Porto on a free transfer from Internacional in 2014.

A jack of all trades last season he popped up as a left midfielder, left forward, right midfielder, centre midfielder, and attacking midfielder. Although finishing isn’t his strong suit he is strong in the tackle whilst also possessing great creative ability. Like his Liverpool countryman, Roberto Firmino, Otavio has an eye for a pass and can ghost past defenders with ease.

Despite being born and raised in Brazil, Otávio became a Portuguese citizen in March 2021. On 26 August 2021, Otavio was called up to the Portuguese national team by Fernando Santos for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and made his debut against the latter, scoring in the 3–1 win at the Nagyerdei Stadion in Debrecen, Hungary.

Darwin Núñez

  • Nationality: Uruguay

  • Club: Benfica

  • Age: 22

  • Position: Centre-Forward

Since his move from Almeria in September 2020,

Darwin Nunez

has established himself as a key player for Benfica. The 22-year-old has scored 13 goals in his 13 appearances this season. Nunez has been a standout performer for his club this season, on both the local and European platforms. Nunez's retro approach to the number 9 position has piqued the interest of big European clubs. Nunez is believed to have a £100m release clause but could be picked up for less.

Last season Nunez was also an outstanding striker for Benfica as well. In a total of 29 matches that Nunez started 10 of them on the bench, he scored 6 goals and provided 9 assists.

After coming from Almeria for a high price, Darwin Nunez became the most expensive purchase for the Portuguese club as the club’s coach claimed the 21-year-old player is expected to have the highest sale in his name exceeding the sale of Joao Felix to Atletico Madrid.

Nunez was also able to score a hat-trick in Benfica’s game against Lech Poznan, which according to Jesus if the player goes on displaying such beautiful performance his stay in the club will be short-lived knowing that he will be demanded by many clubs. Nunez was also a competitor for the top scorer in Portugal League 2021 as well.

Sérgio Oliveira

  • Nationality: Portugal

  • Club: Porto

  • Age: 29

  • Position: Centre-Midfielder

Scoring 13 goals and providing 5 assists in a total of 32 appearances for Porto, the centre-midfielder was a perfect candidate to be the

best player in Portugal League 2021


Sergio Oliveira

spent the main part of his career with Porto after making his first-team debut at the age of 17, going on to feature in nearly 300 competitive matches and won two Primeira Liga championships, two Taça de Portugal and two Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira.

On the 17th day of October 2009, he became the club’s youngest player to appear for the first team. Sergio completed this incredible feat at the age of 17 years, four months, and 15 days. Despite showing so much promise throughout his early senior career, FC Porto’s coach (Jesualdo Ferreira) didn’t see him worthy of being a first-team player.

For this reason, poor Sergio began the path of a lengthy loan stint. Sergio Oliveira’s Porto exile saw him spending the most youth time of his senior career at different clubs. Even the likes of André Villas-Boas and the host of other FC Porto managers who followed after Jesualdo Ferreira kept sending him back on loan.

He left FC Porto and signed for Paços de Ferreira. At his new team, the midfield star achieved the first breakthrough of his professional career. FC Porto stated they never lost sight of him even though they considered him surplus to their requirements. Two years later, Sergio Oliveira returned to his former team. Arriving with FC Porto, he became the crucial player in capturing the famous Primeira Liga championship.

João Palhinha

  • Nationality: Portugal

  • Club: Sporting

  • Age: 26

  • Position: Defensive Midfielder

Next on our list of the best Primeira Liga players in 2021 is Sporting’s defensive-midfielder, João Palhinha, who was a cornerstone for Rúben Amorim’s side that triumphed league last season.

Born in Lisbon, Palhinha joined local Sporting CP's youth system in 2012, aged 17, and continued development through youth ranks and several loan spells. Having started the 2020–21 campaign training on his own amid negotiations with Al Nassr and CSKA Moscow, Palhinha was eventually reintegrated into Sporting's main squad and ended up contributing 32 appearances for the champions, with a goal in the 2–0 home defeat of Paços de Ferreira. He was named in the Primeira Liga Team of the Year alongside five of his teammates.

Pahlinha’s turnaround continued as in March, when he was called up to the full side for the first time for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and made his international debut in the match against Azerbaijan, replacing Rúben Neves late into the 1–0 victory in Turin. He scored his first goal in the same phase, closing the 3–1 away win over Luxembourg.

The midfielder is a very important player for the Portuguese outfit, who do not seem willing to sell him. Tottenham also asked about him, but Sporting demanded a minimum offer of 40 million euros.

Pedro Gonçalves

  • Nationality: Portugal

  • Club: Sporting

  • Age: 23

  • Position: Centre-Midfielder

Scoring 23 goals in a total of 32 matches,

Pedro Gonçalves

was the top scorer in Portugal League 2021 last season followed narrowly by Haris Seferovic and Mehdi Taremi. The midfielder has continued his great form this season by contributing 4 goals and 4 assists in 12 Primeira Liga appearances.

Pedro Gonçalves has earned a reputation as a technically skilled performer. Even though he isn't normally a striker, an attacking midfielder who is well-versed in being the team's sole creative force as well as a constant goal maker. Because of his importance and leadership in the attack, he's already garnered comparisons to former player Bruno Fernandes.

The 23-year-old made an instant impact in the position left vacant by Bruno Fernandes, averaging a goal per 83 minutes this season, which is better than the Old Trafford superstar. Fernandes scored once every 191 minutes during his final season at Sporting.

On September 4, 2020, Gonçalves won his first cap for Portugal at the under-21 level, in a 4–0 win in Cyprus in the UEFA European Championship qualifications for 2021. He scored twice against Gibraltar (3–0) in another away match for the same competition on October 13th.

Fernando Santos chose Gonçalves for his UEFA Euro 2020 squad in May 2021, after he had previously competed in the first stage of the under-21 finals, which had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mehdi Taremi

  • Nationality: Iran

  • Club: Porto

  • Age: 29

  • Position: Striker

Next on our list is the

top scorer in Portugal League 2021

, Mehdi Taremi, who scored 20 goals in the previous year in the Portuguese league. Benfica forward Haris Seferovic with 19 goals and Sporting attacking midfielder Pedro Gonçalves with 17 goals finished in second and third place.

The Iranian who joined Porto from Rio Ave for a reported €4.7m is completing the showcase of a full-fledged player. He contributed 16 goals and 11 assists in 34 Primeira Liga appearances last season and has scored 8 goals so far this season as well.

In addition to his incredible stats,


knows well how to get a penalty from defenders. He terrifies every team with his extraordinary speed, and his headers and strong shots are a unique feature.

On 17 February 2021, Taremi became the first Iranian to score in the first knockout phase of the competition as he opened the scoring for Porto against Juventus. On 13 April, he scored the game-winning goal with a spectacular bicycle kick in a 1–0 away win over Chelsea in the Champions League quarter-finals, yet his club lost 1–2 on aggregate. Eventually, his goal against Chelsea was voted as the best goal of the season's Champions League. The goal also won the "UEFA.com Goal of the Season" award and was later nominated for the FIFA Puskás Award.

Rafa Silva

  • Nationality: Brazil/Portugal

  • Club: Benfica

  • Age: 28

  • Position: Attacking Midfielder

Continuing through our list of the

best Primeira Liga players in 2021

we reach Benfica’s versatile attacking midfielder, Rafa Silva, who contributed 5 goals and 5 assists last season and is continuing his great form with 7 goals and 13 assists so far this season.

Silva is comfortable finishing from a variety of angles. He gives the sense of being unhurried when setting himself up, taking the time necessary to adjust for the type of shot required. This serenity applies to more pressing offensive situations such as late dashes into the box and split-second chances.

His shooting ability extends to his passing game as well. They're well-balanced and played with a calmness and promptness that his teammates appreciate, and they're steered into a path that allows them to move forward without hesitation whenever possible.

He’s a great runner and brilliant sprinting can be a double-edged sword since it invites late challenges from opponents who are a beat or two behind. However, in many situations,


can escape with his dizzying dribbling talents.

Close control, which is used in narrower channels all over the pitch to shift the ball away from a challenger's feet under more focused pressure, is an example of this. He even sometimes impressively follows it up with having to quickly beat another man too.

The midfielder was called up to the senior team for the first time on February 28, 2014, for an exhibition match against Cameroon on March 5, 2014. In a 5–1 win in Leiria. Silva was chosen to the final 23-man roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He returned to the full squad for UEFA Euro 2016, making his debut in the campaign in a 0–0 draw with Austria at the Parc des Princes on 18 June as an 89th-minute substitute for Nani.

Luis Díaz

  • Nationality: Colombia

  • Club: Porto

  • Age: 24

  • Position: Left Winger

Continuing through our list of the best Primeira Liga players in 2021, Luis Diaz has lit up the Primeira Liga in the first half of this season with several standout displays. Diaz is outperforming almost every player in the league so far this season as he has contributed 12 goals and 3 assists in 15 appearances.

Diaz has helped Porto to the top of the Premeira Liga, in which they are unbeaten with 12 wins and two draws, level on points with Sporting Lisbon. He had 6 goals and 5 assists in a total of 30 appearances last season.

Luis Diaz mostly plays on the midfield’s left side, but he can also perform on the right or support the attack. He made a move to FC Porto in 2019 from Junior FC on a €7.2m contract. The 24-year-old pulled off an impressive performance at the Copa America last summer as well. The Colombian winger put his name firmly on the map this summer in Copa America where he was tied with Lionel Messi for the Golden Boot.

He usually occupies a wide left role in a compact 4-4-2 in Porto, while he is also comfortable playing in the front three in the case of a 4-3-3. He was attracting interest from Premier League sides during the summer window, although Porto’s asking price prevented suitors from making an offer.

Sebastián Coates

  • Nationality: Uruguay

  • Club: Sporting

  • Age: 31

  • Position: Centre-Back

We’ll end our list of the

best Primeira Liga players in 2021

with the former


defender and LPFP Primeira Liga Player of the Year, Sebastian Coates. For a third time in four seasons a Sporting player has taken home the prize.

Coates is also the first defensive recipient since David Luiz more than a decade ago. A near-ever presence during the 2020/21 campaign (missing just one game), in which the Lions ended their near two-decade wait to be crowned Portuguese champions, Coates scored five goals while leading a defense-line that only conceded 20 goals.

At 1.99 meters, Coates is a tower of a man. Despite not being quite as wide as he is tall, Sebastian is still a strong defender who won't be out-muscled easily. Combining his physical attributes with an aggressive style of defending, both in the air and on the floor, Coates sends fear rushing through the veins of most opposing strikers.

Despite sometimes weak performances, like in August 2019 where he committed three penalty fouls in a 3-2 home defeat to Rio Ave, the appointment of the 36-year-old former Benfica midfielder, Amorim as the Sporting boss changed both Coates and Sporting’s fate.

His influence at Estadio Jose Alvalade was immediate, and with Amorim on the bench, Sporting has become an extremely solid unit of self-confident players, with Coates just one of the individuals to have improved beyond recognition.

Amorim's tactical switch has also played an important role, with the young tactician having integrated a 3-4-2-1 system, which in turn allows Coates to play as an old-fashioned libero between two other central defenders.

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