All you need to know about Pedro Goncalves, ‘the next Bruno Fernandes’

The January transfer window is open and plenty of clubs will be looking for a new signing to emulate the impact Bruno Fernandes made at Manchester United last year.

Scouting departments need not look much further than Fernandes’ former club, Sporting Lisbon, where Pedro Goncalves – aka ‘Pote’ – is tearing it up and helping the club mount a surprise title charge.

Signed by the Portuguese club to replace Fernandes in the summer, he’s made the step up brilliantly and could soon be set to make another step forward. Here’s everything you need to know about him.

The story so far

Born and raised in the small city of Chaves, not far from the Spanish border in North Portugal, Goncalves honed his skills at a number of academies as a youth, going from local side Vidago to Chaves to Braga to Valencia and eventually Wolves.

He arriving at Molineux with one eye on the future while Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were still in the Championship back in 2017.

Goncalves produced in a number of eye-catching appearances for Wolves Under-21s, but his only senior appearance for the club came courtesy of a 30-minute League Cup cameo in a 2-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday in August 2018.

With first-team opportunities few and far between, he returned to Portugal in the summer of 2019, signing for newly-promoted outfit Famalicao.

The relative minnows went on to be the story of the season in the Primeira Liga under Joao Pedro Sousa, the long-term former assistant of Marco Silva, while Goncalves was front and centre to their strong campaign.

He scored five goals and registered a further five assists as Famalicao punched well above their weight to finish sixth in the table. His breakthrough season reportedly saw him appear on the radars of perennial top two Benfica and Porto, but instead he signed for Sporting.

Once again, he’s shining for a side that are exceeding expectations. Sporting remain unbeaten and are top of the table with 10 wins and two draws so far, while Goncalves is the league’s top scorer with 11 goals from 11 appearances – the vast majority of which have been decisive in winning points.

What kind of player is he?

At Famalicao, Goncalves established himself as a technically proficient, agile midfielder.

He’s since seamlessly slotted into the space vacated by Fernandes when he left for Old Trafford and is registering even better goalscoring numbers, averaging a strike every 83 minutes so far this season. In his final half-season at Sporting, Fernandes was averaging a goal every 191 minutes.

He’s not quite as incisive or creative as the Manchester United man, having registered a single assist so far, while averaging a chance created every 45 minutes. In his final season at Sporting, Fernandes was playing a key pass every 24 minutes.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the 22-year-old is his ruthlessness in front of goal, with his 11 goals coming from just 26 attempts – a conversation rate of 42%. The only question is whether that’s sustainable.

To put that in context, the Premier League’s top scorer Mohamed Salah has scored 13 goals from 54 attempts – a conversation rate of 24%.

What’s been said

– “I said to him that the next time you get that opportunity you’ll put that in the back of the net. He’s been outstanding for us this year, he’s a really good player and no one means to miss an opportunity,” Wolves youth coach Rob Edwards said of Goncalves general standard after missing a good chance to score for the Under-23s.

“The good thing is he was in the right place at the right time, just put the shot a few inches wide; the actual move itself, and the build-up – which he was heavily involved in before – was excellent.”

– “My strength is not talking, I like playing football more,” Goncalves himself said after signing for Sporting.

“I am a player who likes to have the ball, react to the loss and who accelerates well. It depends on the coaches. I adapt to any style of play.”

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