Premier League teams are often an eclectic mix of talents from across the globe with over 100 different nations having been represented in the division, ranging from footballing powerhouses in Brazil and Belgium to the less heralded Tanzania and Togo.
One country currently providing a wealth of talent to English football is Portugal, with a number of the nation’s very finest footballers starring on these shores.
The vast array of quality Portuguese players in the league made it hard to whittle down this list, but we’ve decided to look at five of the very best in the Premier League right now:
Portuguese football has long been about one man and whilst Cristiano Ronaldo remains undisputedly his nation’s finest footballer, a more than capable side-kick has emerged to the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in Bruno Fernandes.
Fernandes has been arguably the best player in the Premier League since signing for Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon, producing at an astonishing rate to instantly establish himself as the club’s central figure.
The 26-year-old is a natural leader and drives his side forward, always offering himself to receive possession in tight areas and taking responsibility for making things happen.
Fernandes has provided 31 goal involvements in just 28 league appearances since signing for the Red Devils, breaking the record for a midfielder in a calendar year with the Portuguese directly involved in more than half of his side’s goals in 2020.
Most direct goal involvements in Europe’s top 5 leagues since Bruno Fernandes’ debut:
35 – Robert Lewandowski
34 – Lionel Messi
31 – Bruno Fernandes
30 – Cristiano Ronaldo
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 26, 2020
It’s a phenomenal record of consistency for a player who has largely transformed his side’s fortunes, with only Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi involved in more goals since his United debut in February.
United have spent much of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era in transition but in Fernandes, they have a player they can build a new-look side around, a player who has performed at a world-class level since moving to English football.
Liverpool were linked with a host of names as they sought competition and cover for their fabled front three during the summer transfer window, before launching an unexpected and swift move to sign Diogo Jota from Wolves.
Jota has impressed during his three seasons at Molineux, firing Wolves into the Premier League before flourishing as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side consolidated themselves at the top level and secured qualification for Europe.
Despite his obvious talents the 24-year-old found himself in and out of the side last season, though Liverpool’s recruitment team once again did their homework on a forward who has made an instant impact on Merseyside.
Jota has scored nine goals in just 10 starts in all competitions for the Reds, including a scintillating hat-trick during the club’s 5-0 win at Atalanta in the Champions League group stages and his performances have quickly shown he is much more than just a capable deputy.
The summer signing is comfortable in any of the three positions across the front and has been described as a ‘pressing monster‘ by Reds’ assistant Pep Lijnders, his mix of graft and guile making him tailor-made for the Liverpool attack.
Jota’s progress has suffered a setback following a knee injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for several more weeks, and hopes will be high that he can return swiftly after adding a different dimension to the champion’s squad.
Pep Guardiola’s well-documented spending on defenders was headline news once again during the summer transfer window after splashing more than £100m on two new centre-backs, securing the signing of Nathan Ake from Bournemouth alongside club-record addition Ruben Dias.
Dias had won plenty of admirers since coming through the youth ranks at Benfica and helped the Portuguese side to the league title during the 2018/19 campaign, before forming part of the national side that won the inaugural Nations League that summer.
The 23-year-old arrived with a burgeoning reputation but it is one that has only enhanced since signing for Man City, helping transform the club’s biggest weakness into a position of great strength.
Dias has been a mainstay of the side since arriving and is now Pep Guardiola’s first-choice centre-back, forming a strong partnership with a resurgent John Stones in a City side boasting the Premier League’s best defensive record.
John Stones on Ruben Dias:
“I absolutely love playing with him.”
— Goal (@goal) December 28, 2020
Dias has won plaudits for his leadership, organisation and no-nonsense approach to defending, though he possesses all the ingredients of a modern defender and ranks fifth in the Premier League for pass completion percentage.
After struggling following the departure of Vincent Kompany, City now appear to have the solid foundation on which to build a new side around.
There is no side in the Premier League with as strong a Portuguese contingent as Wolves, who have often used their links to the nation to strengthen during recent transfer windows.
Nuno Espirito Santo has a huge nine of his compatriots in his current first-team squad including six senior Portuguese internationals and teenage starlet Fabio Silva, with the likes of Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Nelson Semedo amongst the most established names.
We’ve opted to include a player who continues to flourish under the guidance of Nuno at Molineux, however, with Pedro Neto having been amongst the Premier League’s best young players so far this season.
The 20-year-old signed for Wolves from Braga in 2019 and after a season of adaptation has starred during the current campaign, providing a creative spark in the club’s attack and providing four goals and three assists.
Pedro Neto has been directly involved in more Premier League goals (7) than any other Wolves player this season:
◎ 15 games
◎ 4 goals
◉ 3 assists
Romain Saïss nods in his corner. pic.twitter.com/UXyixEZx6w
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 27, 2020
Neto is comfortable centrally or on either flank and regularly picks up possession in dangerous pockets of space, the youngster willing to drive forward and go past players on either side.
Wolves have nurtured some top talents in recent years and Neto looks a hugely promising prospect, one who seemingly has the ability to reach the very top if he continues his recent rise.
Bernardo Silva perhaps does not deserve inclusion in this feature based on current form, but there is no doubting the midfielder’s talents following his achievements in the colours of Manchester City.
Just two years ago the Portuguese playmaker’s performances were bordering on world class, having starred as City won an unprecedented domestic treble to be named as the club’s Player of the Season and in the PFA Team of the Year.
Silva was excellent as Portugal won the 2019 Nations League to be named as Player of the Tournament and finished ninth in the Ballon d’Or voting, and whilst those levels have dipped he remains a superb talent when on-song.
The 26-year-old creates chances with an effortless ease and drifts dangerously across the pitch, the star having been a firm favourite of Pep Guardiola in recent seasons for his creative quality and willingness to work hard.
Overshadowed of late by the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling at the Etihad, hopes will be high that Silva can rediscover his momentum, a special player and one whose brilliant best ranks amongst the division’s finest.
The post Five of the best Portuguese players in the Premier League right now first appeared on The Football Faithful.