Portugal is one of the most productive places for young talent in recent years and they are constantly churning out quality player after quality player. They are a country that perhaps doesn’t get the credit of, say, the Netherlands, France or Germany, but they have a lot of very interesting prospects and a very decent hit rate when they do the transition to bigger and better leagues. And right now they have a player tearing the league apart, Sporting’s Pedro Gonçalves.
When Bruno Fernandes left Sporting in January of 2020 to join Manchester United, there was a lot of understandable concern among the fans of the Portuguese club about replacing their best player at the time. Fernandes had been instrumental for Sporting the entire time he was there and his goals and assists were incredibly important, much like he has been at United.
But then midfielder Pedro Gonçalves arrived to the scene. The 22 years old was signed by Sporting in the last summer and he came from Famalicão, having previously being one of the many Portuguese players that Wolverhampton had, despite the fact he only played a game with their senior team in England. As an interesting fact, he was also part of the Valencia youth system at Spain for a while.
But it has been at Sporting where Pedro Gonçalves has really come into his own. Assuming a very key role in the team, he has managed to score a fantastic 14 goals in 15 league games, which is quite outstanding for a midfielder and is very reminiscent of what Bruno Fernandes achieved at the club, so the comparisons between the two players have obviously started.
Sporting are sitting in the first place of the league after 17 games and they are five points above their closest chaser, Porto. It is the first time in a while that Sporting are in a very good position to challenge for the title and Pedro Gonçalves’ contributions have been very important in that regard, proving that even at an early stage he is showing the qualities of a top player.
Of course, it is still early stages and doing the leap from the Portuguese league to Serie A, La Liga or the English Premier League is something that not everybody can pull off–after all, Bruno Fernandes’ massive performances for Manchester United are the exception rather than the norm. But Gonçalves is the type of player you want to see: determined, exciting and with a lot of delightful technique.
So, if you are thinking about the next big thing coming out of Portugal, there is a very good chance that Pedro Gonçalves might be the man you are looking for!