What next for Diogo Gonçalves?
Big things were expected of Diogo Gonçalves when he moved on loan to Nottingham Forest in the summer of last season.
Having impressed with the Benfica B team, the now 22-year old was given several opportunities to feature for the Benfica senior side, even with his relative youth - and even has a multitude of Champions League experience to his name.
Indeed, the versatile winger featured in 4 of Benfica’s 6 Champions League matches that season from left wing, showing how highly regarded he was by then-Benfica manager Rui Vitoria.
They did ultimately lose each of those four games - pretty disastrous, although ultimately not his fault. One of the two matches he wasn’t involved in, for example, Benfica ended up being thumped 5-0 to FC Basel. Not one of Benfica’s finest moments.
In any case, Goncalves already has 266 minutes of Champions League football to his name, having played against Manchester United both home and away, in addition to both CSKA Moscow and FC Basel, while he’s also played the entirety of Benfica’s Primeira Liga matches on 3 occasions, getting 2 assists in that time.
And he often showed exactly why there was a lot of excitement surrounding his future. Offering real explosiveness and creativity on the wing, his footballing intelligence and trickery was predicted to cause a great deal of problems to many Championship sides.
After all, history shows that Diogo offers considerable attacking threat; when utilized on the left, as is typically the case, the opportunity arises for the Portuguese youth international to cut inside onto his stronger right foot and take a shot himself, or equally play a whipped cross into the box for the striker to get on the end of.
And, speaking of the Portugal national team, Goncalves has already played for the Portugal U21s on 13 occasions - and has grabbed a highly impressive 8 goals in that time, almost always impressing when he takes to the field.
Nottingham Forest had picked up one of Portugal’s best players from that group of U21 players, and all indications suggested that it was shrewd business and he would be a terrific acquisition. See this clip of him versus Bosnia for the U21s as reference of what he can do when confident and running with the ball.
Diogo Gonçalves', take a bow!— TugaScout (@TugaScoutPT) October 16, 2018
The #NFFC winger had the calmness to take the ball forward, drifting effortlessly past six helpless Bosnian defenders, before finding the back of the net. Excellent individual play from the Benfica loanee! 🔥🔥pic.twitter.com/7uYQ7XnIMH
But with Forest, he ultimately played just a measly 7 league games, very rarely even named in the match day squad, let alone the starting eleven.
It was, unreservedly, a disastrous season for the winger, and one can only hope that it hasn’t set him back too much.
But the question is where next? Will he stick with the Benfica team, first with the B team, before then getting promoted to the main side should he be able to impress? That could be a good solution for Diogo, a chance to reignite his career at a club that have given him chances before.
More likely, however, seems another loan move - and this time, to a fellow Portuguese club.
Diogo clearly struggled with the physicality of the Championship, and wasn’t ready to adapt to the English game. He never seemed overly comfortable and, as much as he wanted to represent the historic English emblem, just couldn’t seem to hit the heights we’ve seen of him.
As such, staying in Portugal seems like the best option, and currently, it is newly-promoted Famalicao that seem poised to secure his signature for the upcoming campaign, that move could be made official in the coming days.
It would be a terrific signing for the new Primeira Liga club - and an ideal move for Diogo too. He wouldn’t be the first player to restart his career at a lesser club in the Portuguese game. Chiquinho did it at Moreirense last season, for example, as did Toze for Guimaraes. This seems like the best way back for the youngster.