Cristiano Ronaldo has been the main man in the Portuguese national team for a decade and a half now.
He is scheduled to play some of his most important matches with the team in the coming days as Portugal seeks to secure a place for the 2022 World Cup through the qualifiers.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been a prominent player for Portugal throughout his football career.
Ronaldo is the top scorer in men’s international soccer with 115 goals in 184 matches. It shows how important the 37-year-old is to his national team. His influence within the national team cannot be underestimated.
Ronaldo won the European Golden Boot last year, scoring five goals and one assist in four matches in the continental tournament.
But Portugal must face the facts: Ronaldo is at the end of his career and he must find a replacement.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at five players who could replace Cristiano Ronaldo in the Portugal national team.
#5 Goncalo Guedes (Valencia)
Goncalo Guedes has had an impressive season for Valencia this time around. Guedes made his international debut for Portugal at the age of 18 against Krasnodar in 2015. He scored the only goal in the 2019 UEFA Nations League Final for Portugal against the Netherlands after coming off the bench.
Guedes is a versatile striker who can play anywhere on the front line. But he excels as a striker or as a second striker. The 25-year-old has scored 13 goals and five assists in 33 games in all competitions for Valencia since the start of the season.
At the moment, he is not part of the Portugal squad, but that may change after Cristiano Ronaldo’s retirement.
#4 Rafael Liao (AC Milan)
AC Milan winger Rafael Liao is starting to attract interest from all over Europe. The 22-year-old has been one of the stars of the season so far with the Rossoneri. Liao’s skill with the ball on foot is reminiscent of young Cristiano Ronaldo.
His dancing feet and blistering speed have allowed him to move between defenders with ease and he has caused havoc on the left flank of Stefano Pioli’s men this season. Liao scored 11 goals and six assists in 33 games in all competitions with Milan since the start of the season.
He is expected to become a future star for Milan and Portugal. Leao only made his Portuguese debut recently, replacing Cristiano Ronaldo in the 3-0 win over Qatar on October 9. He assisted the goal of Andre Silva.
#3 Andre Silva (RB Leipzig)
Andre Silva was one of the top strikers in Europe during the 2020-21 season, which he spent with Eintracht Frankfurt. The Portuguese international scored 29 goals and provided 10 assists in 34 matches in all competitions with the Bundesliga last season.
He joined RB Leipzig last summer and had a reliable attacking presence as well. Silva is a complete center forward with an amazing striking ability. He also shows a great sense of the game in the penalty area and knows how to find spaces to shoot.
Silva also has good touch on the ball and his play in the final third is absolutely commendable. The 26-year-old scored 15 goals and assisted 8 in 39 matches in all competitions since the start of the season.
#2 Diogo Jota (Liverpool)
Diogo Jota has become one of the best strikers in the Premier League at Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp. He is currently the second best scorer in the current Premier League season with 13 goals to his name.
Jota is a trickster on offense and can play anywhere on the front line. He’s very good at going deep to get the ball back before getting into the final third with it. Jota also excels at running behind opponents’ defense and once he’s out of harm’s way you can count on him to maintain the lead and put the ball into the net.
Although he is only 178cm tall, Jota can score some powerful kicks to the head. With his versatility and eye for goal, he could be an excellent long-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo in the Portugal national team.
In 39 games in all competitions for Liverpool since the start of the season, Jota has scored 19 goals and provided three assists.
#1 Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)
Joao Felix is the player most similar to young Cristiano Ronaldo. The 22-year-old has tremendous potential and the consensus is that his career has seen a slight slump at Atletico Madrid. Felix would certainly do much better in a more attack-oriented team.
He was signed by Rojiblancos in 2019 for a club record fee of €127.2 million. Felix scored 27 goals and provided 15 assists in 106 matches in all competitions since joining Atletico Madrid.
He is a very agile striker who can work his way out of a dead end and is also very versatile. Felix can play in any position on the front line and could be a great alternative to Cristiano Ronaldo if given enough time and patience.