Scouting Spotlight: Gelson Martins, Ruben Neves, Giovanni Simeone

Scouting Spotlight: Gelson Martins, Ruben Neves, Giovanni Simeone
From ESPN - April 11, 2018

Scouting Spotlight looks at Sporting Lisbon's version of Cristiano Ronaldo,the Championship's best player and the son of Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone.

Gelson Martins -- Sporting Lisbon

After progressing through Sporting's famed youth academy, Martins broke into the first team picture in 2015. He has since proven to be a key creative talent for Jorge Jesus' side, winning 17 caps for Portugal.

Playing style

A flying winger with a low centre of gravity to barge his way past defenders, Martins usually starts on the right of Sporting's 4-2-3-1 formation, where he is tasked with supplying the ammunition for prolific target man Bas Dost. The 22-year-old's main strength is his electric pace, driving beyond the opposition backline to find the time and space to pick out a cross. His deliveries can be wayward at times, but such is Martins' evident potential that he has drawn comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Similar to Ronaldo in his younger years, Martins enjoys showcasing his tricky footwork. He has a direct style of play, seizing on loose balls to spark attacking moves, but will need to develop greater composure in the final third.


Martins claimed his seventh Primeira Liga assist of the season in a 2-0 win over Pacos de Ferreira on Sunday, creating numerous chances for Sporting to extend their margin of victory. With 11 goals in all competitions, he has already recorded his best return in a single season, showing he can deliver in big games by scoring the opening goal in January's Lisbon derby against Benfica.

Martins' ability to rise to the occasion was also noted last season, when he scored the winner in Sporting's first league meeting with Porto and repeatedly stretched Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the Champions League.

Where would he fit in?

Liverpool have been regularly linked with the winger over the past 12 months, and he would suit the quick transitions Jurgen Klopp favours in his attacking system. Sporting have been known to drive a hard bargain, however, and Martins' reported 53.5 million release clause affords them a strong negotiating position.

Ruben Neves -- Wolverhampton Wanderers

As the Championship's best player, Neves' performances have highlighted the influence of Wolves' relationship with super-agent Jorge Mendes. The midfielder was signed for a record 15.8m from Porto, but will command a significantly higher fee in his next move.

Playing style

After making his debut for Porto at 17, and captaining the club in the Champions League, Neves followed manager Nuno Espirito Santo to England last summer. There were questions about how he would handle the physicality of second-tier football, but the 21-year-old has adapted seamlessly.

Setting the tempo in a 3-4-3 system, Neves' remarkable vision and passing range have been key factors in Wolves' inevitable return to the Premier League. He rarely makes mistakes in possession, but leads by example and is quick to recover his position when he does lose the ball.

Neves likes to shoot from distance, arcing powerful efforts towards the corners, and is a threat from set-pieces -- as he proved with his match-winning free-kick at Cardiff last weekend. His discipline has been questioned at times, with the midfielder banned on three occasions for accumulative yellow cards and a reckless dismissal in Wolves' recent win at Middlesbrough.


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