Manchester United have a storied history when it comes to purchasing players from Portugal’s Primeira Liga. The most high-profile is, and will likely always be, Cristiano Ronaldo. Purchased from Sporting Lisbon in 2003 as a raw, young but gifted winger, Ronaldo slowly morphed into one of the world’s greatest attacking players, and arguably one of the best players that football has ever seen. His 42 goals in 2007/08 were a gigantic part of United’s Premier League and Champions League double that season, and his name is still fondly sung around Old Trafford seven years after his departure.
Of course, there’s the flip side of this. Nani and Anderson both arrived on a wave of promise and optimism in the summer of 2007 from Lisbon and FC Porto respectively, but in truth, neither truly fulfilled their potential at United. Anderson showed flashes of being the presence in midfield that Sir Alex Ferguson thought he was getting, but suffered greatly with injuries and struggled to get regular runs in the side. In the case of Nani, the Portuguese international arguably had several strong seasons at Old Trafford, but too many of his years at the club were characterised by frustration due to inconsistency and poor decision making.
Now, United are linked with another young Portuguese international, and given his current club, alarm bells are ringing. The Mirror are reporting that scouts have been keeping close tabs on Benfica’s Goncalo Guedes, who has inherited the rather unfortunate title of ‘The New Ronaldo’. Guedes, 19, has been playing centrally in a new-look side adjusting to the losses of NicoGaitan and Renato Sanches in the summer to Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. The report suggests that Benfica are lining him up to be the next expensive departure from the Estadio da Luz next summer.
So, what’s the problem? Well, United have been here before. Several months ago, in fact. Reports that United were on the cusp of agreeing a deal for Sanches were rife towards the end of last season, and all seemed well; big fee agreed, player wanted to join, all seemed fine. Then Bayern swept in and sealed the deal in record time, leaving United looking like a laughing stock. Sanches was scouted for what felt like two seasons before United made their interest clear, and given how that pursuit ended, it’s worth preaching caution when it comes to Guedes. Simply scouting a player doesn’t actually mean all that much.