Have Newcastle Found a Forgotten Gem?
Being released is arguably the most difficult news a footballer will ever have to face in their short careers. No matter the reasoning behind it or timing, the ultimate message is that you're just not good enough.
The news will have been especially tough for youngster Amido Balde. Amido was scouted by Sporting Lisbon’s feeder club Sporting Bissau in West Africa. He began to impress and eventually made the transfer to the Lisbon-based side. Yet despite having impressive loan spells in Spain, and particularly for Belgian outfit Cercle Brugge, Sporting released Balde last summer.
A good number of promising careers tend to stutter and eventually stall following such a let off. But fortunately for Balde, he was snapped up by fellow Primeira Liga club Vitoria Guimaraes, and it’s clear that the striker is playing with a vengeance and a point to prove.
The 21 year old has been phenomenal whenever he’s been given the chance to perform. Balde, though having only started seven league matches this season, has scored in six of them, amassing seven goals in the process. Such a return is superb for a youngster who has never previously played in the top tier in Portugal, and it suggests that the front man could develop into a prolific goal scorer.
Admittedly, Balde is still relatively unproven given that the Portuguese league is still some way off the quality of the Premier League, and the youngster is still featuring for the Portugal youth teams.
However, what’s striking is the rate at which he seems to be improving despite the stumbling block on the way. He has gone from failing to score in his loan spell for a Portuguese second division side to gaining a decent goal return for Cercle Brugge and an even better one for Vitoria. He seems to be one capable of adapting to the gradual increase in competitiveness and level of football he’s faced with.
Balde will have one year remaining on his current contract by the end of the season. Though Vitoria will be reluctant to sell, a lucrative deal with a Premier League club might be enough to lure him away and to force the club to sell before he leaves for zilch. The rumours are still in their infancy, and whether they’re reliable or not, this seems to be a player worth tracking in the next few months.
I can’t say I have had much of an opportunity to see him play but I could tell you that he is well-regarded in Portugal. He’s played well this season for a minor club.
The fact that he was released by Sporting shouldn’t put people off. Portugal’s big three have had a recent history of giving up on good players too soon and having them succeed somewhere else.
He is still far from Premier League standard, but it sounds like he could be a great pick-up. Hopefully if it does happen, NUFC will loan him back to Portugal for playing time.