Football Features

Goncalo Guedes: Meet the top-class Portugal striker no one is talking about

By Matt Clark, from La Liga Lowdown

Published: 8:00, 24 March 2022

As Portugal head into their crucial World Cup play-off against Turkey, there is a lot of debate about the composition of A Seleção‘s attack.

Cristiano Ronaldo is still the main man of course, but there are plenty of star names making up the supporting cast: Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Bernardo Silva, João Félix and André Silva, none of whom need any introduction.

But what if the answer to the Portuguese predicament takes the form of Valencia’s Gonçalo Guedes? If Fernando Santos is reading this, it could hold the key to qualifying for Qatar.

Bet £10, Get £20 in Free Bets T&Cs apply

18+, UK only. Deposit and place a minimum £10 cash bet at single or accumulated odds of 1/1 or greater and we will give you 1 x £5 in free bets plus an extra 3 x £5 Free Bets the following day. Applies to first cash bet only. Free bets credited as 4 x £5 bets to use on 3x Any sport & 1x Virtuals. Cashed Out, Void or Draw No Bet wagers do not qualify for this promotion. 1 x £5 Free Bets are credited upon qualifying first bet settlement, other free bets credited by midday the day after your first bet settles. 7-day free bet expiry. Available once per customer. This offer cannot be combined with any other promotion. Full T&C’s apply.

18+ only. New UK customers only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here
Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets T&Cs apply

18+ only. Use code BET30. New Players Only. Minimum stake $/€/£ 10, minimum odds1.5, stake not returned.1X wagering the winnings from the free bet. Wagering occurs from real balance first. Wagering requirement is calculated on bonus bets only, wagering starts from real funds. Free bet is valid for 7 Days from issue. Max conversion: $/€/£ 200. Excluded Skrill deposits. Withdrawal requests voids all active/pending bonuses. Full Terms Apply

18+ only. New customers only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here
£20 in free bets when you place a £10 bet T&Cs apply

18+ only. £10 min. deposit required. 1 x £10 qualifying bet required. Qualifying bet must be placed on selection with min. odds of 1.8 (4/5). 4 x £5 Free Bets will be credited once the qualifying bet has been settled. 1 x Free Bet valid for any Football Match Result market. 1 x Free Bet valid on any Football Correct Score market. 1 x Free Bet valid on any Horse Racing market. 1 x Free Bet valid on any Tennis market. Free Bets valid for 7 days once credited. T&Cs apply.

18+ only. New customers only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here

The career trajectory of Guedes is not a straightforward one. From an early age he was clearly a bright prospect, playing for all of Portugal’s youth teams from under-15s upwards. A product of the famously fruitful Benfica academy, Formação, Guedes came through as part of a squad including Ederson, Renato Sanches and Victor Lindelöf. In his first full season, he scored the winner at the Estadio Vicente Calderón in a Champions League game against Atleti, catching the eye of Diego Simeone, who clearly has a penchant for young prodigious Portuguese forwards.

This impressive form earned him a €30 million move to Paris Saint-Germain, but he was unable to cement a regular spot in the team. Just six months later, he was loaned to Valencia, and 2017/18 was his coming-of-age campaign. He hit a hot streak in the autumn, scoring his first international goal before netting for Valencia against Real Betis and following that up with a brace against Sevilla at Mestalla. His debut season in La Liga yielded a total of five goals and nine assists for the 21-year-old; form which earned him a spot in Portugal’s World Cup squad. It also persuaded Valencia to make his loan move permanent, with Los Che sending €40 million to Paris, still a club record fee.

The following season was not as prolific for him, largely because of separate injury issues, but he continued to contribute for Marcelino’s side. An abductor tear and groin injury meant he missed 15 matches in total in 2018/19. But he really came into form at the business end of the season. Firstly, he scored a crucial 93rd-minute equaliser in Russia against Krasnodar to keep their European dreams alive in their centenary season.

Without that goal, Krasnodar would have progressed on away goals. Then he scored the opener against Real Madrid in a 2-1 win at a vociferous Mestalla, before scoring two away at Villarreal in the Europa League quarter-final in a breathtaking counter-attacking performance. He also played the full 90 minutes in the Copa del Rey final as Valencia beat Barcelona on a momentous night for the club, to secure their first trophy in 11 years.

That summer, he was a difference-maker for Portugal. After coming off the bench at 1-1 in the semi-final of the Nations League, he assisted Cristiano Ronaldo for his third to seal the win. Guedes had earned a spot in the starting XI for the final, and scored the winner against the Netherlands – a firm drive from the edge of the box – his first competitive international goal.

This is where his story took a turn for the worse. He suffered a sprained ankle which coincided with the off-field chaos at Valencia. Marcelino was replaced by Albert Celades and Guedes only played 21 La Liga matches, registering just two goals and two assists. Whether the injury made him more self-conscious and he played within himself, only he will know, but the Guedes on the pitch was not the same scintillating player seen in previous years.

Portugal vs Turkey betting tips

18+ only. Please gamble responsibly. For more information, visit begambleaware.org. All odds and offers in this article are valid at time of publication.

Under Javi Gracia, his form did pick up last season, chalking up five goals and five assists, but he had lost his place in a Portugal squad full of competition in attacking areas. He missed much of the recent Nations League cycle and failed to make the Euro 2020 squad. Fast forward to this season and the third act of his undulating career arc – a triumphant return to form, even surpassing the performances of his earlier career. Guedes has been fundamental for José Bordalás’ Valencia this season, and is (along with Carlos Soler) their best and most productive player.

A progressive carrier and passer, Guedes commits defenders with his mazy dribbles and creates space for other attackers. Under Bordalás, hard work off the ball is of prime importance, and Guedes is a tireless worker, putting in a shift defensively, making his share of tackles, interceptions and recoveries, always determined to get his side on the front foot again. Still just 25 years old, his associative and combination play is improving all the time, and his peak years are still ahead of him.

But still it’s his attacking product which stands out. By the end of March, he has reached 11 goals and five assists in La Liga, his best combined tally in any season of his career. Those goal involvements have also been decisive: a 95th-minute assist to save a point at home to Marcelino’s Athletic Club; a 93rd- minute goal to get them back into a game they ended up saving; a 96th-minute assist for an equaliser against Atleti; two goals and an assist in the 4-3 derby win over Levante; an equaliser at home to Sevilla; and most recently, the winner at Elche, cleverly improvised off his knee.


888sport betting offer: How to get £30 in free bets (+£10 casino bonus)

Eligible readers interested in the 888sport betting offer can follow THIS LINK or click the image below and sign up using the code 30FB.

Min deposit £/€/$10 • A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £/€/$10 • Min odds 1/2 (1.50) • Free Bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days • Free Bet stakes not included in returns • Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days • To withdraw bonus/related wins, wager the bonus amount 40 times within 14 days • Casino Bonus expires after 60 days • Withdrawal restrictions, payment methods, country & full T&Cs apply. 18+ only. Be Gamble Aware.


Perhaps his most important goal, however, was the only goal of the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg at home to Athletic, the goal to send Mestalla into raptures and Valencia into another final.

Across Europe’s top five leagues, Guedes (16) has been directly involved in more goals than any other Portuguese player. Yes, that’s more than Ronaldo (12+3), Fernandes (9+6), Jota (13+1), Silva (10+2) and João Félix (6+4). With all due respect to Valencia, they don’t boast the supporting cast of Liverpool or the two Manchester clubs. It is even more remarkable, therefore, that Guedes was an unused substitute as Portugal succumbed to a 2-1 home defeat against Serbia in the final qualifier.

With Portugal facing an all-or-nothing match now against Turkey – the last time they failed to qualify for a World Cup was 1998 – Guedes is worth his place in the team. He has already proven his value on the international stage, and is in the form of his life. Far from being a gamble against some of the bigger names, Guedes represents a safe bet for Santos. Whether he will take it is another matter, but Portugal’s place in Qatar is at stake.

Article produced by Matt Clark in partnership with La Liga Lowdown, your home for Spanish football in English with reporters based in Spain. Find them on Twitter @LaLigaLowdown

READ MORE:

✕︎

Sign up to the Best Football Offers

A valid email is required.

Invalid e-mail.

Yes I am over 18.
Yes, I would like to receive email updates on exciting offers from squawka.com. For more info on how we and our partners process your data, see Privacy and Cookie Policies.
You need to confirm that you are over 18 and that you want to receive updates.

*By subscribing you are confirming that you are over 18 years of age.

*All emails include an unsubscribe link, where you can opt out any time. *Please see our privacy and cookies policy..

x

Newsletter error