Nuno Mendes is considered the brightest talent of his generation in Portuguese football and the Sporting Lisbon youngster was rewarded for his excellent season at the José Alvalade with a call-up to Fernando Santos’ senior side for the World Cup qualifiers, where he is being mentored by Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Mendes made his debut for Portugal in the 1-0 win over Azerbaijan, playing the full 90 minutes, but before the game national media made plenty of the fact that Ronaldo has clearly taken the young full back under his wing with images of the two in animated conversation broadcast before the game.
Mendes in demand
🇵🇹 Nuno Mendes (18) in his @selecaoportugal debut v. 🇦🇿:
☑️ 90 minutes
🚫 Clean sheet
🔑 3 key passes
⚔️ 7 duels won
✈️ 3/3 aerial duels won
❌ 1 interception
🤼♂️ 2/2 tackles won
🦶 81 touches
🙌 1-0 win
Solid debut. Amazing prospect. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/2WTOwCnt9v
— Football Wonderkids (@fbwonderkids) March 24, 2021
The 18-year-old has established himself as Rubén Amorim’s first-choice left back this season and has racked up 24 appearances in all competitions after making his senior debut in 2019-20. Some of Europe’s big-spenders, including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City are tracking Mendes and there have been reports that Pep Guardiola has already made initial contact with Sporting over a player likened to Madrid defender Marcelo due to his speed and attacking ability.
Mendes is under contract at Sporting until 2025 with reports in Portugal stating he has a release clause of €70m written into his deal. If the Primeira Liga side decide to cash in on their young star they will probably have to settle for less than that in the current climate and it remains to be seen what influence Ronaldo may have on his choice of future destination.