Goncalo Guedes: Five things about 'new Ronaldo'; PSG and United keen
He's been labelled the "new Cristiano Ronaldo" because of his style of play, is a Benfica regular at just 20-years-old, and is reportedly on the cusp of a £25 million pound transfer abroad with links to Manchester United and PSG. But who is Goncalo Guedes?
Here are five things you should know about the dazzling Portuguese forward.
He has been wooing onlookers since he was five
When it comes to talent showing itself at an early age, few can outdo Guedes. According to MaisFutebol journalist Sergio Pereira, at the age of five he would watch his brother -- two years his senior -- in tournaments, but he couldn't play because he wasn't old enough. However, when tournaments came around which did not require ID to be shown, the coach put him in the team, playing alongside children who were as much as four years older than him.
"He was always the best player and won games on his own," his father, Rogerio Goncalves, told Pereira.
"He did one training session during the week and played one game at the weekend, and it was enough for Benfica's people to come and talk to me. They wanted him to be part of the Geracao Benfica [Benfica Generation], which is a more advanced level for the best kids."
He has been compared to Cristiano Ronaldo
Ever since he started dazzling in youth teams for club and country, Guedes has been compared to Cristiano Ronaldo. It's a comparison the player himself says he does not care for, but there is no doubting his searing speed, directness and eye for the spectacular are reminiscent of Ronaldo in his teenage years.
On Nov. 6, 2015 Guedes was selected by Portugal coach Fernando Santos for the friendly against Russia, subsequently making his debut in Krasnodar. It served only to further embolden the parallels being drawn between the two players. It was the first time an 18-year-old had made the cut for the national team since... Cristiano Ronaldo.
He is a fully focused individual
One aspect in which Guedes does differ from the Portugal captain is his preference for keeping a low profile. Unlike the majority of today's successful young footballers he is not blinded by fame, he has no tattoos, he doesn't wear jewellery and he prefers to slip under the radar -- at least off the pitch.
According to Helena Costa, a former coach of Guedes when he was coming through the ranks at Benfica, his focus and his personality are among his biggest assets. "He's a very considerate person," she told MaisFutebol. "When I was working in Qatar he sent me a Facebook message saying he's got something for me. It was the shirt of his first Portugal appearance, at Under-16 level. I was in Qatar, we didn't have much contact, but he kept the shirt, signed it and gave it to me. This shows his character, his sense of gratitude."
He has whirlwind playing style
Guedes is a force of nature on the pitch. He only knows how to play one way: at an electrifying tempo. Initially, he played mostly as a winger, his extreme pace used to good effect as he would skittle past full-backs, hit the by-line and cross, but his shooting prowess and eye for goal led to several starts as a centre-forward, especially for Portugal's youth teams, with a degree of success.
Benfica's star striker Jonas missed the first half of this season with injury, allowing Guedes to play centrally, where he has caused havoc among opposition defences. Substantially stockier than when debuting for Benfica's first-team as a gangly 17-year-old, a more muscular Guedes in full flight is virtually unstoppable. His finishing could be better (seven goals in 28 games) but it is steadily improving, as shown when notching a classy brace at Vitoria Guimaraes a fortnight ago.
He is a wanted man
Guedes introduced himself to the wider audience in last season's Champions League, finishing off a brilliant breakaway goal as Benfica pulled off a shock 2-1 victory against Atletico Madrid.
The goal made him the youngest Portuguese player to score in the group stage of Europe's premier club competition. Rumours of his imminent departure from Benfica have rumbled on ever since, with his victims that day, Atletico Madrid, most frequently linked with a swoop for the player.
Guedes was left out of Benfica's squad for Sunday's match against Tondela, and despite coach Rui Vitoria claiming it was a tactical decision, the Portuguese media insist a big-money move abroad is imminent, with O Jogo saying he will be leaving for England, France or Spain.
Portuguese website ZeroZero claim that, despite Manchester United's interest, Guedes will be travelling "very shortly" to Paris ahead of a €30m transfer to PSG with Unai Emery clearly a fan. "He is a good player, capable of playing wide or in the middle," the coach told a news conference on Monday.
Tom Kundert covers Portuguese football for ESPN FC. Twitter: @PortuGoal1.