Five players that deserve a call-up to the Portugal national team
Another bout of international fixtures are just around the corner, and several players have done their chances of getting called up to the latest Portugal squad no harm at all.
With such impressive depth in the national pool right now, many talented players performing to their highest ever standard often get overlooked for a place in Fernando Santos’ squad. The fact that Diogo Jota is yet to make his debut and Ricardo Pereira has failed to even get a call-up to the national team over the last 12 months says it all.
However, here we look at 5 players who have frequently been overlooked that genuinely deserve to be in the discussion for a place in the upcoming 25-man squad:
Rui Silva - Granada
The 25-year old shot-stopper is certainly not a household name amongst the footballing community - and that’s understandable. After all, he was playing in the second tier of Spanish football up until last season, when they earned promotion back to La Liga.
Some fans of the Portugal national team may even struggle to recall who the one-time Portugal U21 international actually is - but he has certainly started to make a name for himself in the Spanish game.
Last season, he played 40 of Granada's 42 La Liga 2 matches as they finished 2nd in the standings, earning promotion back to the top flight, having been relegated in 2017.
In that most recent season, he kept an impressive 18 clean sheets in the league, very much establishing himself as a key player in the side.
And his footballing credentials have only grown since then, with his showings in the Spanish top flight making him one of the standout keepers in the league at this very early stage of the season.
His composure was again on show against one of the world's greatest clubs a week ago, where he showed great command of his area to help lead Granada to victory over Barcelona, catching every ball that was hopefully whipped into the box.
The newly-promoted side currently sit 2nd in La Liga, with 14 points from their opening 7 games. An incredible achievement, and Rui Silva has played his part.
A debut call-up for Portugal ahead of Jose Sa, who is playing in a less competitive league, could certainly be on the cards.
Fabio Martins - Famalicao
The 26-year old was always expected to be one of Famalicao’s stand-out performers this season, the experienced winger brought in on loan from SC Braga, and that’s exactly what he’s proven to be.
Having recruited wisely in the summer, Famalicao were always anticipated to be a side to watch out for this season, and Martins, with his heroics down the left wing, has certainly been one of the standout performers in the Primeira Liga this campaign, his 4 goals and 4 assists in 7 Primeira Liga outings evidence of that.
Few would have expected his side to be sitting 1st in the Primeira Liga standings at this point in the season though, which is further testament to the quality the youthful Famalicao have been showing this season, a side with tremendous resilience and a never-say-die attitude.
Martins epitomises that; with excellent dribbling ability and decision-making, he has been crucial in helping Famalicao reach their lofty heights, and it does make you wonder why he fell so out of favour at Braga last season, only playing in 11 of their 34 Primeira Liga matches.
Nevertheless, Braga’s loss is Famalicao’s gain and, while Martins has never represented Portugal at senior level before, he is more than deserving of a call-up to Portugal’s latest squad even if there is a huge wealth of competition in attack for a place in Fernando Santos’ team.
With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, Goncalo Guedes, Rafa Silva, Diogo Jota and Andre Silva all also vying for a spot, the chances of Martins actually being given a call-up actually seem slim, though the fact that he is the standout player for the leaders in Portuguese football really should be enough to persuade Santos to give him a chance.
Ricardo Pereira - Leicester City
Having been dropped from the Portugal team since his poor showing in the World Cup round of 16 against Uruguay in the summer of 2018, it is understandable that Santos has been overlooking the Leicester right back, perhaps still not fully trusting the former Porto right back.
And with both Joao Cancelo and Nelson Semedo extremely talented options, he could be forgiven for not choosing Ricardo Pereira up to this point. Now, however, there are no excuses not to call up the Leicester City right back.
With Joao Cancelo struggling for game time at Manchester City and Ricardo Pereira being one of the best players in the entire Premier League so far this campaign, he simply must be included in the next squad ahead of Cancelo.
His defensive ability is well-known, good positioning and tackling ability, but it his strong attacking play that really makes him such a well-rounded modern-day fullback, his two excellent goals in Leicester’s last two games evidence of that.
Cedric Soares is also starting to make a case for himself to be added back to the fold, potentially ahead of Joao Cancelo currently, but it is Ricardo Pereira that must, at the very least, be included in Portugal’s squad to take on Luxembourg and Ukraine. And he may even add to his 5 caps too.
Ricardo Horta - SC Braga
Another plyer based in Portugal making a name for himself is Ricardo Horta. The similarities between him and Fabio Martins are clear to see; both wingers, both belong to SC Braga, both playing to the highest level in their careers, and both having not even been in discussion to make the Portugal squad until now.
There are a couple of differences, of course. For one, Horta has actually played for Portugal before - albeit five years ago in a shock 0-1 home defeat to Albania. And for two, he is playing for a side that, unlike Famalicao, are really struggling domesrically this season.
Indeed, Braga have just 7 points from 6 games, sitting 11th in the standings with Horta yet to find the back of the net in the league.
However, it is in the Europa League that Braga - and Horta - have been impressing, the 25-year old winger having 5 goals in 4 outings in Europe’s secondary competition, finding the back of the net in every match he has played so far in the continental competition, including 3 goals across 2 games against Spartak Moscow, and another well-taken goal versus Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.
The chances of both him and Fabio Martins getting a call-up are next to none, though you would like to see at least one of them get called up. Who it will be, if either, remains to be seen.
Andre Silva - Eintracht Frankfurt
Having missed out on the last Portugal squad due to the need to recover from an injury he sustained towards the end of last season, Silva deserves to return straight back to the fold.
The striker has started his time out on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt perfectly, bagging two goals in his first 3 Bundesliga matches, playing the entirety of each of the 3 matches as he builds up his fitness.
He looks in good form and hungry for goals, finally starting to show some of the form that he was demonstrating at Porto under the management of Nuno Espirito Santo.
He returns to Portugal this Thursday to take on Vitoria Guimaraes in the UEFA Europa League.