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The Portuguese Reds: Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Bebe, Joel Pereira and now Diogo Dalot

Manchester United officially announced their first summer signing this week as Portuguese young starlet Diogo Dalot penned a five-year deal. Although the rumours had picked up in the press in the prior days to the announcement it is a signing that has come as a surprise to most. Manchester United undoubtedly had to strengthen in the fullback areas with Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young only getting older and the continued uncertainty surrounding Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian. Mourinho has moved early and turned to his native country and former club in Porto for the young full back, little is known about Dalot as he only appeared seven times last season and once he makes his debut he becomes just the fifth Portuguese player to feature for the club but how have the others done?

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Starting with the other Portuguese player currently in Manchester United’s squad. Goalkeeper Joel Pereira who although has yet to feature too much for the first team has been a prevalent feature in the youth ranks for the Reds. He has outstanding ability and is tipped for a big future at Old Trafford and it will be interesting to see how his career progresses over the next few seasons. He will also be looking forward to linking back up with Dalot after their time together in the Portuguese youth team.

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Next on the list is tricky winger Nani his time at the club was full of flashes of genius as he would often perform step over after step over and tricky skills. He was a really talented player and would even pop up with the odd long-range rocket. Although Nani played over 100 games for the club and scored in some big games his career never quite hit the heights of what many felt he could have achieved. Nevertheless, he was a strong member of the squad which lifted the Premier League four times and the UEFA Champions League and fans took a liking to the Portuguese talent.

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Next on the list is a player that didn’t quite fit the mold at Old Trafford. Bebe arrived at Manchester United after the departure of some key players and was apparently scouted on the back of previous homeless World Cup appearances, who knows how true that may be. The excitement did, however, build as he was unveiled and the questions begin to rise, was he the next wonder kid? The next Portuguese protégée? The questions were quickly answered and Bebe simply didn’t meet the standards required picking up a measly seven appearances and even managed to be subbed after coming on as a sub himself. Bebe, however, has managed to create a career in La Liga appearing for various clubs and currently plays for Rayo Vallecano.

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The final player on the list is one you all know and is one of Manchester United’s greatest ever players and has gone on to forge a career that has put in him contention as one of the greatest players of all time. Cristiano Ronaldo is by the far the finest Portuguese player that has featured for the club, signed from Sporting Lisbon following a sparkling friendly game against United he went on to form a strong bond with Sir Alex Ferguson and continued to evolve season upon season going from a young skinny skilful winger that lacked consistent end product to a goal machine and ultimately picked up the Ballon d’Or in 2008 following a historic season which saw the club complete the European and League double with Ronaldo scoring over 40 goals for the season.

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Although Dalot arrives as relatively unknown he may find himself with plenty of opportunities to work his way into the first team permanently with Antonio Valencia on the wrong side of 30. His journey will start with the US Tour this summer and it will be interesting to see how he performs. Mourinho clearly sees something in the young Dalot stating “in his age group, he is the best full-back in Europe” and whilst there haven’t been too many players to pull on both the strips of United and Portugal, even if it is at youth level, for the time being, the track record suggests that he could go one of two ways and if he hits any of the standards set by Ronaldo he will be a formidable asset for the Reds for years to come.

Written by Josh Keifer

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