Eduardo Quaresma: Sporting's teen defensive star on Man Utd's radar

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Eduardo Quaresma NxGn
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The 18-year-old centre-back has put in a number of impressive performances after being promoted to the first team after football's shutdown

Football's return post-lockdown has allowed a number of teenage players to make their mark on the senior game away from the prying eyes of supporters.

In the Premier League, the likes of Mason Greenwood, Bukayo Saka and Curtis Jones have all enhanced their reputations with a series of impressive performances.

Over in Germany, meanwhile, Bayern Munich made Jamal Musiala their youngest ever Bundesliga debutant, while Bayer Leverkusen starlet  Florian Wirtz became the youngest goalscorer in the competition's history.

Similarly, in Spain, Luka Romero made headlines around the world after the 15-year-old Mallorca wonderkid made a historic Liga bow.

At no club, though, has there been more of a drive towards youth than Sporting C.P. in Lisbon.

Led by coach Ruben Amorim, after the 35-year-old took over at Estadio Jose Alvalade in March after impressing with Braga, Sporting have handed debuts to four teenagers since top-flight football returned to Portugal.

Eighteen-year-old full-back Nuno Mendes is already a regular on the left-hand side, having become the club's youngest starter since Cristiano Ronaldo, while forwards Joelson Fernandes, 17, and Tiago Tomas, 18, have both made cameo appearances off the bench.

Perhaps the player to have caught the eye the most, though, is centre-back Eduardo Quaresma.

The 18-year-old has gone from having never made a matchday squad for Sporting to a key member of Amorim's preferred starting line-up in the space of six weeks and, unsurprisingly, Europe's biggest clubs are starting to circle.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus, Inter and Atletico Madrid have all been linked with moves for Quaresma and of his rapid progression continues, then it's likely he'll eventually move on in the coming years.

A distant relative of legendary Brazil forward Zico, Quaresma began his footballing education at the age of three with lower league club G.D. Fabril in the Setubal district of Portugal.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

De volta às vitórias 💪🏼💚

A post shared by Eduardo Quaresma (@eduardo_edu_72) on

He joined Sporting six years later and, from a young age, he has been praised for both his talent as well as his leadership.

Quaresma captained both club and country at schoolboy level before being invited to join Sporting's first-team squad during pre-season ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.

His performances over the summer saw him promoted permanently to the Under-23s squad, for whom he was a regular throughout the campaign before the coronavirus-enforced break.

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The arrival of Amorim, however, has changed things. The former Portugal international midfielder favours playing a three-man defence, and believes Quaresma is the right man to play on the right-hand side of the trio.

Thus far he has played eight of Sporting's nine league matches since Liga NOS' resumption, with Amorim resting him against Moreirense so as not to risk burnout.

Blessed with superb pace and an ability to read the game from a defensive point of view, the teenager is also comfortable in possession when tasked with starting attacks.

Standing at just 6'1", he lacks a little physicality, though given Amorim's chosen system, he has not always found himself up against central strikers in his short senior career thus far.

Eduardo Quaresma NxGn GFX

It is a career that Sporting hope will continue in the Portuguese capital for the foreseeable future.

Having rejected a bid from AC Milan in May, they moved quickly to tie Quaresma down to a new contract that now runs through to 2025.

The deal also includes a €45 million (£41m/$51m) release clause, with Quaresma saying upon putting pen to paper in June: "This renewal only shows that the club believes in me and that I believe in the club. We will stay together for a few more years."

What constitutes a "few more years" remains to be seen, but it seems only a matter of time before the latest member of Portugal and Sporting's golden generation flies the nest.

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