They could have had it all. Instead, Ricardo Quaresma faded under Ronaldo’s shadow.

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By Kristian Heneage

As Cristiano Ronaldo readies himself for another potentially career defining moment on the global football stage, spare a thought for the man who was meant to join him in the upper echelons of football’s tapestry. Emerging from the same prestigious Sporting Lisbon academy, Ricardo Quaresma was once seen as Luis Figo’s heir apparent. Instead he finds himself on what is likely to be one of the final legs of his footballing journey in the middle east with Al Ahli.

It’s a far cry from his beginnings in Portugal’s capital. Promoted from Sporting’s B-team as a 17 year-old, much was expected of him after a stellar first season in which he lead the club to a league and cup double under the guidance of manager Laszlo Boloni. Arriving right behind him was Ronaldo. As Carlos Quieroz once admitted, choosing which dazzling winger to sign was a genuine dilemma, with one belief unanimous; both would shine. 

For a period, Quaresma did. His four years in Porto brought two Portuguese player of the year awards, and a string of highlights that vindicated the opinions formed during his days at Sporting. An expert in the ‘Trivela’ technique, he often reveled in the big stage the Champions League provided him. Yet just as there was a peak, there were also notable troughs. 

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South American Dominance in Portugal

By Dominic Vieira

This week I am going to be commenting on a key issue which is affecting the modern game in Europe, foreign players vs. home-grown players. I will primarily focus on the Portuguese League, but this issue affects Europe’s top divisions, especially the Premier League where there are more foreigners playing than British players. I will also take a look into the FIFA 6 + 5 rule, which will start being implemented next season.

The Portuguese League is full of talented and gifted players, however, the majority are not Portuguese; they generally originate from South America, and some examples of the imported stars are Di María (Benfica), Hulk (FC Porto), Matias Fernandez (Sporting). These players are poached at a relatively young age and for a low fee. But Portuguese clubs don’t buy the top stars in South America as they have high transfer prices. It’s easy to sign Southern American players as they don’t require a work permit and initially don’t demand excessively high wages. After spending 2 or 3 seasons in Portugal they’re sold for at a multi-million transfer fee; Lisandro Lopez and Anderson both left Portugal for over 25 million euros.

Without a doubt, the transfers are highly profitable and are an essential source of income for clubs. It’s not only the top 3 clubs which benefit from this, for example, Nacional da Madeira bought Brazilian striker Nenê for a small fee and sold him last summer for 4.5 million euros to Calcio Cagliari.

Portugal produces world class players, but the rising stars tend to leave the country at a young age. They depart from Portugal to play in a more competitive league, further develop as a player and receive a greater salary. Cristiano Ronaldo spent one season at Sporting before transferring to Man. Utd and Quaresma played 2 seasons before moving to Barcelona in 2003.

However, the principal problem is that the larger intake of foreign players has made it harder for home-grown players to break into the first team of a club. If that player is talented, he will soon depart to another league and for a strong price. His replacement is generally Southern American, e.g. Benfica replaced Simão with Di Maria.

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