The Primeira Liga has evolved to be one of the biggest leagues in Europe. The League which contains club teams from Portugal used to be inferior to the so-called big leagues but things have changed. Teams like Benfica, Porto, Braga, and co. have raised their standards and their performances. They are still far in quality when compared to PSG, Bayern Munich and other top clubs in Europe but the fact is that they are no pushovers.
An interesting fact is that many of these top clubs have enjoyed the best players that the Primeira Liga has to offer. The Portuguese League has produced many players across different football era and this is what today’s piece is all about. We have randomly selected 10 finest exports that the league has given the world of football for you our readers to see.
#1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo will likely be the finest player that Portuguese football has ever produced. He began his career with Sporting CP breaking into the first team in 2002/2003. He made 25 appearances scoring just three league goals. This was enough for Sir Alex Ferguson to bring him to Manchester United where he had a trophy-laden career including his first Champions League winners’ medal. He moved to Real Madrid in 2009 in a deal that saw him become the most expensive player then. He left Madrid as their record goalscorer and a winner of four Champions League trophies amongst other achievements. Ronaldo now plays for Juventus in the Italian Serie A. Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or five times as a reward for his hard work.
Like Ronaldo, Nani also played for Sporting CP in the Primeira Liga before moving to Manchester United in 2007. He won the UEFA Champions League, four Premier League titles and a host of other trophies. The iconic bicycle kick scored by Rooney against Manchester United was assisted by the winger. Since leaving Manchester United in 2015, Nani’s football journey has seen him play for Fenerbahce, Valencia, and Lazio. He also had a third spell with Sporting CP before moving to Orlando City in 2019. Internationally he is still going strong with the Portuguese national team and hopes to play at the next European championship.
#3. Luis Figo
We cannot talk about the best winger players in football without mentioning the iconic Luis Figo. With pace, dribbling, and guile, Figo was a nightmare for opposition full-backs in his playing days. He was also a Sporting CP player from 1989 before moving to Barcelona in 1995. After winning domestic and continental trophies, he moved to Real Madrid in 2000 where he won the UEFA Champions League for the first time. His exploits with Los Blancos saw him win the Ballon d’Or and other individual awards. Figo ended his career with Inter Milan in Serie A with whom he won seven trophies.
#4. Angel Di Maria
The Argentine is the first non-Portuguese player on our list. He began his career with Rosario Central before moving to the Primeira Liga with Benfica in 2007. Though he scored just seven league goals in three years, Di Maria was signed by Real Madrid in 2010 and spent four years with them before moving to Manchester United in 2014. He endured a terrible time in England that saw him labeled as a flop. However, he has revived his career with PSG since moving to France in 2015. His trophy cabinet includes the UEFA Champions League, the Club World Cup and a host of other silverware.
#5. Bruno Fernandes
Fernandes is Primera Liga’s latest import to the English Premier League. After numerous transfer speculations in the summer, no move materialized and he had to continue with Sporting CP in the Primeira Liga. Manchester United would later win the race to sign him in the January transfer window and he has made huge impacts already with crucial goals and assists. One of those is his assist for Anthony Martial’s goal against Manchester United goal. Fernandes will definitely be a major player for Manchester United as they aim to rebuild a competitive team once more.
#6. Rui Costa
Rui Costa was an attacking midfielder who began his youth career with Benfica. He broke into the senior set up in 1990 making 78 league appearances and scoring 13 goals. Fiorentina signed him in 1994 and he went on to play for them till 2001. At Fiorentina, he scored 38 league goals and won the Coppa Italia twice before moving to Milan in 2001. He had his most successful time with A.C. Milan winning 5 trophies including the UEFA Champions League and Serie A. He returned to Benfica in 2006 before hanging up his boots in 2008.
Portugal has not found a natural number nine since Pauleta retired from the national team in 2006. He began his career with local clubs around his region before beginning professional football at the lower leagues in Portugal. The last Portuguese team he played for was Estoril before moving to Spain Salamanca in 1996. It was in the French Ligue 1 however, that he began to show his goalscoring prowess. He scored 65 league goals in 98 Ligue 1 games before moving to PSG in 2003. At Parc des Princes, he became PSG’s record goalscorer (109 goals) before Cavani (200) and Ibrahimovic (156) overtook him. Pauleta never played in the Primeira Liga and retired from club football in 2008.
#8. Radamel Falcao
We cannot skip this lethal finisher when considering the finest players that the Primeira Liga has offered. Falcao began his career in his native South America with Lanceros Boyaca before moving to River Plate in 2005. After winning the league and scoring 34 goals in four years, he moved to FC Porto where he won six titles including the Europa League. He has since played for Atletico Madrid, Monaco, and Manchester United, and Chelsea. The Colombian aged 34 now plies his trade with Galatasaray in Turkey.
#9. David Luiz
Many people forget that The Arsenal man actually began his European journey in the Primeira Liga with Benfica in 2007. He began his youth career at Sao Paulo before moving to Portugal where he won the league and the Taca da Liga. Chelsea signed him in 2011 before he moved to PSG and then returning to Chelsea. Luiz’s career is trophy-laden and he currently plays for Arsenal whom he joined in the summer of 2019.
#10. Bernado Silva
We end this write up with Bernado Silva. The Manchester City man is a versatile player who can play in the midfield and further upfront as a winger. Bernado Silva was part of the Monaco team that reached the semifinals of the Champions League dome seasons ago but it was at Portugal that he began his career. He was part of Benfica’s youth team before breaking into the first team in 2013. He made just one league appearance in two years before moving to Monaco and then Manchester City. He has won 8 trophies with them so far.
Conclusion on Primeira Liga’s Finest Exports
The emergence of Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix shows that the Portuguese League is not slowing down in churning out talents. With the volume of money flowing in the market, Portuguese clubs are bound to keep making money off Europe’s big spenders.
Tags: Primeira Liga