Two for the price of one, here.

7 forgotten ballers you had no idea were playing in the Liga Portugal

If you’re sleeping on the Portuguese Primeira Liga, you’d better wake up, kid. It’s insanely passionate, it’s got old masters, and it’s got a disproportionately massive amount of wonderkids waiting to take the football world by storm.

Sporting CP have just wrapped up the 2023-24 title in such style that their manager is being linked to every massive job going, and Porto were very unlucky to go out of the Champions League to Arsenal on penalties.

We’re zeroing in on the current Primeira Liga players that have got our memory synapses tingling. Seven players you’d either half-forgotten were playing in Portugal, or had forgotten existed altogether.

Jose Fonte

Fonte wasn’t young when he left the Premier League. The centre-back left for China in 2018, aged 34. We didn’t think we’d see him back in Europe after that. We were wrong.

The Southampton legend has since spent five years in France with Lille, where he won Ligue 1 despite the existence of PSG, and is now in the top four of the Primeira with Braga. He’s 40 years old. What’s Portuguese for bloody Nora!?

Lucas Piazon

Do not adjust your screen — you read that correctly. Lucas Piazon does actually exist. The Brazilian forward technically spent nine years at Chelsea, making a grand total of three appearances — one in the Premier League, two in the League Cup.

The list of Piazon’s loan spells reads like that Johnny Cash song where he just names all the places he’s been to for three minutes.

He’s been to Chievo, Botafogo
Fulham, Rio Ave, Reading, Chelsea again
Eintracht Frankfurt, Vitesse Arnhem
Malaga, Braga, he’s been everywhere.

Sebastian Coates

Coates’ career has seen heady heights and subterranean lows. He once scored a hardly-believable bicycle kick for Liverpool vs QPR, and he once conceded three penalties in one game whilst playing for Sporting.

He also spent three with Sunderland, but managed to avoid their turgid 2016-17 season, at the end of which they finished dead last in the Prem, by going out on loan at Sporting, where he remains to this day.

READ NEXT: Rui Costa, ‘The Maestro’ who made Fiorentina, Milan & Portugal tick

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name the top 20 Portuguese goalscorers in Premier League history?

Eliaquim Mangala

Ex-Manchester City and French international Mangala is plying his trade at Estoril, a club owned by American David Blitzer, who also owns the New Jersey Devils in the NHL and the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA.

Mini-quiz: Mangala has won the top division title in three of the five countries he’s played in — can you name those countries?

Nelson Oliveira

Fans of Swansea City, Nottingham Forest, Norwich, and Reading will remember this guy. Oliveira was a full Portugal international back in the day, playing alongside the best of the best.

The forward is 32, now, and after sojourns in Spain, France, Wales, England, Greece, and Turkey, he’s finally made his way back to Portugal with Vitoria Guimaraes, who is not Bruno’s mum.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Portugal’s XI from their Euro 2016 final win v France?

Angel Di Maria

Okay, we all knew he’d made the journey back to Benfica, but it still feels a bit weird. Can’t help but picture him in that classic red shirt with the big white collar from 2007.

The 36-year-old World Cup winner is spending the tail-end of his career back where he made his name when he first landed in Europe, a perfect end to a wonderful career. That’s assuming it is the end…

Nicolas Otamendi

The former Man City defender has been at Benfica for the past four years. He made the switch as part of a convoluted swap deal for Ruben Dias — pretty smart business if a financial superpower is intent on taking your best centre-back away. 

The Argentine with over 100 international caps is still captaining the Lisbon side in 2024, aged 36.