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Best young Portuguese football players: new golden generation of Portugal

Portugal has a rich history of developing and nurturing young football talent with a well-established youth development system. The country has consistently produced top-quality players who have significantly impacted both domestically and internationally.

Portuguese football clubs, particularly the “Big Three” of Sporting CP, Benfica, and FC Porto, have invested heavily in their youth academy systems. These academies are known for their commitment to developing technical skills, tactical awareness, and a strong footballing philosophy. Their success is evident in the numerous talented players who have progressed through the ranks and achieved success at the highest levels of the sport.

Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably one of the greatest footballers in history, is a product of Sporting CP’s youth academy. His journey from Sporting CP to Manchester United and later to Real Madrid and Juventus is a testament to Portugal’s youth development quality.

They typically establish clear player pathways from youth academies to senior teams. This allows young talents to seamlessly transition from youth to professional football, often within the same club. In this article, we discover more about the best young Portuguese football players. Maybe we will be able to find the best young Portuguese players 2024.

Everything to know about The best young Portuguese football players

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Portuguese clubs have extensive scouting networks that identify promising talents from a young age. The scouting systems cover local competitions, school tournaments, and regional leagues to ensure that talented players are discovered early in their development. This helps them develop the best young Portuguese football players. 

There is also a strong collaboration between youth academies and the Portuguese national teams. The national youth teams provide a platform for young players to show their skills at the international level, helping them gain valuable experience and exposure.

In this article, we will find out more about the best talented Portuguese footballer, and will answer questions such as Who the Portuguese academies work? Who are the youngest players to play for Portugal? And who is the best young player in the Liga Portugal?

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Honorable Mentions

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  • Rúben Dias
  • Rúben Neves
  • João Félix
  • Diogo Jota
  • Diogo Dalot

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Portugal Youth Academy

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Portuguese youngsters are generally rising in Portuguese youth academies. The youth academy system in Portugal follows a structure similar to many other European countries, with football clubs investing in developing young talents. Youth academies typically have multiple age groups, starting from the youngest players, under-9 or under-10. Players are organized into many age groups based on their age and level of development.

Youth players undergo regular training sessions focused on developing their technical skills, tactical understanding, physical conditioning, and psychological aspects of the game. Experienced and qualified coaches lead the training sessions, emphasizing individual skill development and team play.

Youth academies participate in competitive youth leagues and tournaments at various age levels. These competitions allow young players to test their skills in a competitive environment. The players who demonstrate exceptional skills and potential may be fast-tracked into higher age groups or even make early appearances for the senior team.

This level-up also happens for the national team, and the talented players find their way to the big national stages. This is how Portugal introduced many best young Portuguese football players in years.

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Best young Portuguese football players

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In this part of our article, we will read more about some of the best young Portuguese football players. The success of youth development in Portugal is evident in the country’s ability to produce world-class players consistently. In this article, we will notify you about the young Portuguese XI, who in so young ages already established their talent.

Gonçalo Ramos

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There is no doubt that Gonçalo Ramos is one of the best young Portuguese football players. Born on June 20, 2001, in Olhão, Portugal, he plays as a striker for Paris Saint-Germain and the Portugal national team. He began his career at Benfica’s youth academy. In 2019, he moved to the senior level and played in the Benfica B team. A year later, he was on the first team playing in the Premeira Liga. 

After three seasons, Ramos established his position as a key player for Benfica, having a significant impact on winning the 2022-23 league title. In 2023, Ramos made a move to Paris Saint-Germain, first joining them on a one-year loan agreement before signing with the club permanently.

Representing Portugal in the youth categories, he reached the 2019 UEFA European Championship finals. He also contributed to the under-21 team that finished as runners-up at the 2021 European Championship. In 2022, Ramos made his debut for the senior national team and was selected to be part of the squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 

From the first entry, he became one of the best Portugal national team players, scoring 7 goals in only 10 matches, which is an extraordinary action from this youngster. With this talent, he will be one of the top players in Portugal.

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Rafael Leão

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Rafael Leão is one of the best young Portuguese football players. Born on June 10, 1999, in Almada, Portugal, he plays as a Winger for AC Milan and the Portugal national team. He began his youth career in Amora and Sporting CP. 

After progressing through the Sporting CP youth system, Leão debuted for the first team in 2018 and even secured the victory in the 2017-18 Taça da Liga. Soon after, he joined Lille, a team in Ligue 1, on a free transfer. In 2019, AC Milan signed him for a reported fee of €35 million. During his third season with the club, he played a crucial role in their victory in the 2021-22 Serie A, ending the club’s 11-year wait for a league title. 

Additionally, he received the honor of being voted as the Serie A Most Valuable Player. Leão previously represented Portugal at various youth levels, including the under-17 team that clinched the 2016 European Championship. He later made his debut for the senior national team in 2021. Since 2021, he played in 23 matches and scored 3 goals.

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Fábio Carvalho 

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Fábio Carvalho is one of the one of the best young Portuguese midfielder. Born on August 30, 2002, in Torres Vedras, Portugal, he plays for Hull City and the Portugal national team. He began his career in Benfica’s youth academy. When he was 11, he relocated to South London with his family. He started his football journey with Balham before catching the attention of Fulham, who signed him in 2015.

Carvalho inked his initial professional agreement with Fulham in May 2020, securing a two-year contract. He had an impressive performance there, scoring 11 goals in 40 matches. In May 2022, Carvalho agreed to join Liverpool, a Premier League team. He netted his inaugural goal for the club on August 27 during a dominant 9-0 victory over AFC Bournemouth in a Premier League match played at home.

In the last 2 years, Liverpool loaned him to RB Leipzig and Hull City. Carvalho has played for England up to the under-18 level. On March 17 2022, he received a call-up to Portugal’s under-21 team for upcoming European Championship qualifying matches. In October 2022, he was part of Portugal’s first squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. With a fantastic performance in the club and on the international stage, he is one of the best young Portuguese football players

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Antonio Silva

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Antonio Silva is one of the best young Portuguese football players. Born on October 30, 2003, in Viseu, Portuga, he plays as a center-back for Benfica and the Portugal national team. He began his career in Benfica’s youth academy. During that years, he played a crucial role in their victory in the UEFA Youth League during the 2021-22 season, which marked Benfica’s first European trophy in 60 years. 

After this success, he transferred to the first team and made his professional debut at 18. Silva contributed significantly to Benfica’s league title win in his debut season, demonstrating his impact and potential as a young player. As a defender, he significantly impacted Benfica, becoming the Defender of the Month many times.

Representing his country at various levels, he was the captain of Portuguese youth teams. Shortly after being selected for the senior squad in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he made his debut at the senior international level. Playing in World Cup, he set a new record as the youngest player to ever represent Portugal at the World Cup, at the age of 19 years, one month, and three days.

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David Carmo

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David Carmo is one of the best young Portuguese football players. Born on July 19, 1999, in Aveiro, Portugal, he plays as a centre-back for FC Porto and the Portugal national team. He started his career in Beira-Mar, Benfica, Anadia, Sanjoanense, and Braga Football youth academies. On May 17, 2019, he received his first call-up to the first team. 

Later on, after playing 4 years in Braga, he made a move to Porto in 2022. On September 3, Carmo had his inaugural appearance for the first team, impressively winning all aerial challenges in a 2-0 victory against Gil Vicente. He achieved a Taça de Portugal with Porto in 2022-23. 

Carmo received a call-up to the senior team by manager Fernando Santos on May 20, 2022, for the upcoming UEFA Nations League matches against Spain, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic in the 2022-23 season. In October, he was part of the initial 55-man squad as a part of Portugal’s preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Without a doubt Carmo will have a great future in Portugal national team.

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João Neves

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As one of the best young Portuguese football players, João Neves was born on September 27, 2004, in Tavira, Portugal. He plays as a midfielder for Benfica and the Portugal national team. Starting his career at Benfica’s youth system, he impressed many by helping his team secure a victory in the UEFA Youth League 2021–22. 

Shortly after, he was elevated to the first team and made his professional debut at 18. In his inaugural season with Benfica, he played a crucial role in their league title victory.

Same as his other young team players, he also represented Portugal youth international team in all of the levels. At the age of 19, he made his debut for the senior international team in 2023. Being only 19, he has a huge future shining ahead of himself as the Euro 2024 is coming. 

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Vitinha

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Being one of the best young Portuguese players in Ligue 1, Vitinha was born on February 13, 2000, in Santo Tirso, Portugal. He plays as a midfielder for Paris Saint-Germain and the Portugal national team. He started his career in Desportivo das Aves and Porto’s youth academies. After playing in Porto’s B team he transferred to the first team.

In September 2020, he transferred to Wolverhampton on loan before returning the following season. At Porto, he became a crucial player and helped the team secure a domestic double. As a result, he was one of the players in the Primeira Liga Team of the Year and receiving the Best Young Player of the Year award. In June 2022, he made a move to Paris Saint-Germain. He made 49 appearances for PSG, scoring 6 goals.

Like other youngsters, he represented Portugal at all youth levels. In 2022, he had his first experience playing for the senior national team at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, representing Portugal. Playing in top clubs, he is one of the future stars of Portugal.

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Nuno Mendes

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Nuno Mendes is one of the best young Portuguese football players. Born on June 19, 2002, in Sintra, Portugal, he plays as a left-back for Paris Saint-Germain and the Portugal national team. Emerging from Sporting CP’s youth academy, he first tasted first-team action in 2020. 

The following year, he achieved a remarkable feat by securing both the Primeira Liga and Taça da Liga titles while also earning a spot in the Primeira Liga Team of the Year. In August 2021, he embarked on a loan move to Paris Saint-Germain and eventually made a permanent transfer to the club in June 2022.

As his other youth team mates, Mendes represented the Portuguese youth team at different levels. He made his senior debut in 2021 and was selected to be part of the squads for both Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup. With this talent, he has a great opportunity to shine in the Euro 2024.

Which are the “Big three” football clubs in Portugal?

Sporting CP, Benfica, and FC Porto

How Antonio Silva Break a new Record in World Cup?

Playing in World Cup, he set a new record as the youngest player to ever represent Portugal at the World Cup, at the age of 19 years, one month, and three days.

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Aslik Jacobs
Aslik Jacobs
Being a football fan since she was born, Aslik has a great passion for exploring and writing football-related articles.
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