Portugal’s top-flight clubs have been responsible for producing and developing some of the biggest names in football over the past decade. From the likes of Angel Di Maria, Deco and Radamel Falcao to one of the greatest to ever play the game in Cristiano Ronaldo, the Primeira Liga has been a spectacular breeding ground for many a year.

Which players are next in line to make it big from Portuguese football and follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before them? With one third of the 2017/18 Liga NOS season played, PortuGOAL picks out five players who have shown the attributes this campaign to suggest they can become a global star.


William Carvalho

William Carvalho has been linked with a move away from Sporting for what seems like forever. The defensive midfielder has been courted by some of the world’s finest clubs over the last few seasons and was reportedly on the verge of joining West Ham this summer in a €40 million deal. The move failed to materialise but Carvalho, now 25, has been playing the best football of his career since then and seems destined for the top so it will be likely that the enforcer leaves Portugal in the not-too-distant future to challenge himself against the world’s best.

Danilo Pereira

Like Carvalho, Pereira is another defensive midfielder who has been courted by some of Europe’s finest, with Arsenal showing a particular interest over recent times. It has been noted by a Unibet spokesman that Pereira has been integral to Porto’s impressive start to the season in the holding midfield role and his performances will do nothing but enhance his reputation. With an enforcer type seemingly imperative in so many set-ups these days, it won’t come as a surprise should a bigger European club or two make a move for the 26-year-old.

Ricardo Pereira

Another Pereira and another Porto player who makes this list but for all the right reasons. The modern day full-back has to be quick, energetic, attacking but also capable of defending too and 24-year-old Porto right-back, Ricardo Pereira, has all those qualities in abundance. He’s often seen bombing up and down the flank until the very last kick of the game and Spurs have already taken a keen interest in him. His recent call-ups to the Portugal national team will only further boost his value, and with Porto’s finances in turmoil, should a suitable bid come in it may be difficult for the Dragons to turn down.

Gelson Martins

Gelson Martins is a player who has taken Portuguese football by storm over the past two seasons. The 22-year-old is already regularly doing the business for club side Sporting as well as being a full international too. His pace and dribbling ability has seen Europe’s finest rush to send their scouts to cast their eye over him and after Cristiano Ronaldo spoke highly of him in the media, the sky really is the limit for this skilful winger. Sporting are famed for their production line of wingers of the highest quality – Paulo Futre, Luís Figo, Ricardo Quaresma, Nani and Ronaldo – and Martins is set to continue that tradition. He is now what those in the sports betting world would consider to be a ‘sure bet’ to make a big money move in the near future.

Yacine Brahimi

Yacine Brahimi is in the prime of his career at 27 years of age, has been in sparkling form this season, and is a big reason behind Porto’s superb start under new coach Sérgio Conceição. An outrageously talented dribbler, it is almost impossible to take the ball off the Algerian when he is on his game, and Brahimi is now consistently coming up with an end product, whether it be a goal or an assist. There was never any doubt Brahimi had the talent; his sometimes suspect attitude has been transformed under Conceição, the forward constantly working hard for the team both when positioned out wide or in a more central role, often dropping deep to pick up the ball in his own half and drive the team forward. Porto would be loath to lose him but taking into account the sort of transfer fee he could command and that bank balance...


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  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    This is why I love the Portuguese league. We consistently get to see these top talents develop on a weekly basis. William, Danilo and Brahimi are ready to go or stay and will do well wherever they end up.

    I sincerely hope Ricardo Pereira and Gelson think about Andre Gomes and Renato Sanches and don't follow the same path. Stay where you are and develop. Play for league titles and champions league and don't rush off to sit on the bench or regress. Boa sorte to them all.

    from Burlington, ON, Canada
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  • Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars

    William Carvalho
    Carvalho has grown into a top quality player. I think maybe its taken people a while to catch up to his abilities and he’s been improving season upon season. He’s stepped up from being (just?) a defensive midfielder into a classy passer (and playmaker from deep?). I’m glad he didn’t waste his time moving to west ham as he’s too good for them and should be moving to a bigger team. Not sure where he’ll go but hopefully it wont be to the overrated Premiership. Spain would suit him.

    Danilo Pereira
    Danilo’s all action displays always catch the eye though Reyes did well on the weekend. Again he should be moving to a big team though another season or two at Porto wouldn’t hurt.

    Ricardo Pereira
    This guy will cost a lot of money when he goes! I would have said Chelsea but probably Juventus, Man Utd or even Madrid.

    Gelson Martins
    Not convinced by Martins. He’s a couple of seasons away from living up to the hype and should defo stay where he is until he can perform every week at a high level. A bad move now could put him back years.

    Yacine Brahimi
    Ah yes, lovely to watch him glide around the left side of the pitch, like Neymar. Could add more goals to his game though he has been excellent this season. With Corona, Andre, Herrera plus Telles overlapping there are other attacking options – and focus for the attack - so if someone offers good money then who knows...
    I’d rather keep the 2xPereira’s and sell Yacine if it came down to it.

    from England, UK
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