The Portuguese top flight has long been a breeding ground for young talents, both for home-grown talent such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Luís Figo to name two, but also for foreign talents. The likes of Éderson, Angel Dí Maria, James Rodriguez and Jan Oblak all played in Portugal before they turned 21.
The 2020/21 season has been no different. Nuno Mendes, Gustavo Assunção, Manuel Ugarte and Angel Gomes are just some of the names that have grabbed headlines during this campaign due to their performances, and all were born in the 21st century.
Aaron Barton for Próxima Jornada looks at the numbers behind the youth currently playing in Liga NOS.
All players featured in this article are born or after January 1st, 2000.
55 different players – There are 55 different footballers, born in the 21st century, who have played so far this season in the top flight. Below is a breakdown of how those 55 players.
- Boavista – 8 different players used [Tiago Morais, Jeriel Córdova, Angel Gomes, Alejandro Gómez, Cristian Devenish, Musa Juwara, Nathan, Jackson Porozo]
- Famalicão – 7 different players used [João Neto, Luís Junior, Manuel Ugarte, Leonardo Campana, Gustavo Assunção, Rubén Del Campo, Iván Jaime]
- Sporting CP – 6 different players used [Nuno Mendes, Dário Essugo, Tiago Tomás, Eduardo Quaresma, Gonçalo Inácio, Gonzalo Plata]
- Vitória SC – 6 different players used [André Amaro, Hélder Sá, Noah Holm, André Almeida, Zié Ouattara, Lyle Foster]
- Tondela – 5 different players used [Telmo Arcanjo, Tiago Almeida, Rúben Fonseca, Jota Gonçalves, Joel Sousa]
- FC Porto – 4 different players used [Fábio Vieira, João Mário, Francisco Conceição, Romário Baró]
- SC Braga – 4 different players used [Bruno Rodrigues, Abel Ruiz, Vitor Oliveira, Rodrigo Gomes]
- SL Benfica – 3 different players used [João Ferreira, Gonçalo Ramos, Nuno Tavares]
- CD Nacional – 2 different players used [Mabrouk Rouai, Vincent Thill]
- CS Marítimo – 2 different players used [Jefferson, Pedro Pelágio]
- Rio Ave – 2 different players used [Rafael Camacho, Costinha]
- Gil Vicente – 1 player used [Brian Araújo]
- Belenenses SAD – 1 player used [Afonso Sousa]
- Moreirense – 1 player used [Gonçalo Franco]
- SC Farense – 1 player used [Tomás Tavares]
- SC Portimonense – 1 player used [Luquinha]
- CD Santa Clara – 1 player used [Gustavo Vieira]
*Paços de Ferreira are the only club in the Primeira Liga to have not utilised any player born 2000 or after.Embed from Getty Images
However, the above table doesn’t tell the full story as to what club gives the most opportunities to youth, a more accurate statistic would be the combined minutes of all 21st century players per club, which you can see in the table below.
- Famalicão – 5,235
Famalicão give by far the most minutes to young players, almost a thousand more minutes than the clubs closest to them in the table. This is because they have the highest percentage of young players who are consistently in the starting XI/matchday squad. The likes of Gustavo Assunção, Manuel Ugarte, Luiz Junior and Iván Jaime have all been heavily utilised, especially since Ivo Vieira’s arrival at the club.
2. Boavista – 4,479 minutes
3. Sporting CP – 4,327 minutes
4. Vitória SC – 2,343 minutes
5. Tondela – 1,290 minutes
6. Belenenses SAD – 1,287 minutes
7. SC Braga – 1,214 minutes
9. Nacional – 1,099 minutes
10. Portimonense – 1,053 minutes
11. Maritimo – 963 minutes
12. Rio Ave – 961 minutes
13. SC Farense – 877 minutes
14. Benfica – 637 minutes
15. Porto – 597 minutes
16. Gil Vicente – 90 minutes
17. Santa Clara – 1 minute
18. Paços de Ferreira – 0 minutes
An interesting statistic is that Porto are fourth bottom for minutes given to players born in the 21st century. After winning the 2019 UEFA Youth League, many fans had hoped to see more talents go on to feature more prominently in the first team. Of those players to be involved in the team who were born 2000 or after, Tomás Esteves (2002) has been loaned to Reading, Fábio Silva (2002) was sold to Wolverhampton, Vitinha (2000) was loaned to Wolverhampton, Afonso Sousa (2000) was sold to Belenenses SAD.
A closer look at the numbers allows us to see which individual players have racked up the most minutes so far this season. With three Famalicão players in the Liga top 10 for most minutes for a player born in the 21st century, it’s easy to see why they’re top of the pile for most combined minutes.
- Angel Gomes – Boavista – 1,877 minutes played
- Nuno Mendes – Sporting CP – 1,776 minutes played
- Cristian Devenish – Boavista – 1,719 minutes played
- Gustavo Assunção – Famalicão – 1,514 minutes played
- Tiago Tomás – Sporting CP – 1,411 minutes played
- Luiz Junior – Famalicão – 1,350 minutes played
- Afonso Sousa – Belenenses SAD – 1,287 minutes played
- André Almeida – Vitória SC – 1,232 minutes played
- Luquinha – Portimonense – 1,053 minutes played
- Manuel Ugarte – Famalicão – 1,035 minutes played