Obviously this piece is purely hypothetical, but seeing as there’s nothing else going on in Newcastle right now, it’s always nice to dream big. Here now is a list of promising Portuguese footballers that Newcastle scouts should monitor this season.
Cédric Soares, Sporting Lisbon, Right-Back
21-year old Cédric is an offensively gifted full-back who just finished his first full season with Sporting’s senior side. His personal highlight was scoring a brilliant long-range goal against Nacional in December. He has also been an automatic starter for Portugal’s junior clubs for years.
Cédric’s defensive game has at times been brought into question, which is not unusual for a young player. He has been linked to Norwich and Everton, as well several clubs in Germany where he was born. But he is likely to stay in the Portuguese capital this season.
Roderick Miranda, Benfica, Centre Back
Tall, bruising centre back who could also play in defensive midfield. The 22-year-old has struggled for playing time at the Portuguese club, being loaned out each of the last two seasons. In January, he cut his loan spell at La Liga club Deportivo La Coruña short due to lack of playing time. But Miranda, is without a doubt a promising prospect.
Benfica thought enough of him to sign him to an extension through 2019 in January. The club has loaded up on centre backs again this summer and Miranda is likely to be loaned to a smaller Portuguese club. According to Portuguese football website O Jogo, Rio Ave, Académica and Belenenses have all expressed interest.
Tiago Ilori, Sporting Lisbon, Centre Back
Like Miranda, Tiago Ilori is another solid centre back who is tailor-made for the Premier League. The 20-year-old Ilori earned a starting position with Sporting Lisbon in February, demonstrating a level of maturity and calmness beyond his years. Strong in the air and quick on his feet, Ilori is widely seen in Portugal as a future Seleção player.
Ilori was actually born in London to a Portuguese mother and a Nigerian-English father but has played with Portugal at the junior level. He has been strongly linked with a £4million move to Liverpool this summer. Sporting are currently facing financial difficulties and may be tempted to cash in on Ilori, for the right price.
André Almeida, Benfica, Midfielder/Full-Back
A solid young player, who fans of the Magpies might remember from the matches against Benfica last season in the Europa League. In his first season with Benfica, Almeida played in the Champions League and in the Europa League. He was primarily used at right-back but could also play on the left and in midfield.
Almeida is probably the player most ready to step in and play regularly in the Premier League on this list. Although limited on the offensive side of the ball, Almeida showed that he could balance his attacking role with his defensive responsibilities. He is yet to draw any major attention in the transfer window but is likely to have a solid career.
João Mário, Sporting Lisbon, Midfielder
A very intriguing young player. At age 20, João Mário is yet to receive his chance with Sporting Lisbon. But he is still one of the most talked about young players in the country. He recently captained Portugal at the U20 World Cup in Turkey.
Although, he has yet to play regularly at the senior level, João Mário could end up having the best overall career of any player on the list. He just recently signed an extension with Sporting that will expire in 2018, but the young midfielder is surely a player to keep your eyes on. With Sporting looking to trim payroll, João Mário is likely to get his chance this year.
Josué, FC Porto, Attacking Midfielder
A playmaker who was a major part of Paços de Ferreira’s surprising third-place finish last year. Josué is listed as an attacking midfielder but has also been used as a left winger. He won the ‘Revelation’ awarded given to the best breakout player in Portugal last year. He was signed by Portuguese champions FC Porto this summer.
The 22-year-old is a creative force who could be a direct replacement for Hatem Ben Arfa one day. His manager at Paços de Ferreira last season Paulo Fonseca also joined FC Porto this summer, which means that Josué is likely to play a big role this season.
Ricardo Pereira, FC Porto, Right Winger
A supremely talented right winger, who played for Vitória de Guimarães last season. He scored the winning goal in the Portuguese Cup final against Benfica which would prove to be his last match with Vitória. He was signed by FC Porto this summer.
The 19-year-old also played with Portugal at the recent U20 World Cup, scoring one goal and notching two assists in four matches. Ricardo would still need several more years of experience before he could move to a bigger club, but he has an extremely bright future ahead of him.
Aladje, Sassuolo, Striker
19-year old Alberto Aladje has enjoyed an incredible rise in just a matter of weeks. Born in Guinea-Bissau, Aladje was signed by Italian club Padova in 2010 before moving to Chievo this past season. He spent the year on loan at Aprilia in the lower divisions of Italian football. He has never played in Portugal.
In June he was a surprise addition to Portugal’s U20 squad at the Toulon Tournament in France. He would play himself onto the U20 World Cup squad where he would score three goals in four matches before Portugal was eliminated. Little known before the tournament, Aladje would be profiled in an article on the FIFA website. He will being playing in Serie A this season with newly promoted Sassuolo. After missing out on Amido Baldé, perhaps young Aladje could be that young striker that the Magpies sorely need.