Who’ll replace Pepe in Portugal’s national team?
As a result of the defender for Porto being suspended for the upcoming pair of matches in the League of Nations, he is drawing even closer to calling it a career on the international stage. A departure that will leave an enormous hole in a playing sector that is already almost entirely depopulated in Portugal.
A winner of both the European Championship in 2016 and the League of Nations in 2019, the player who has amassed 128 caps for Portugal has experienced it all. Pepe, however, will not be aware of his lineup for the upcoming matches against the Czech Republic (which will take place at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday) and Spain (Tuesday at 8:45 p.m.).
Even at the age of 39, the central defender continues to be Portugal’s indisputable and, above all, indispensable holder. They make up a strong defense, which has one of the best hinges anywhere in the world when combined with Ruben Dias. Pepe, however, is not as youthful as he once was and, as a result, he will have to move out of his current location in the coming months. Considering Portugal’s current dearth of central defenders, this is a setback that may prove tough to compensate for. The following is a list of potential candidates to take the position of Portuguese legend.
Danilo Pereira, the third man
Since a few weeks ago, Head Coach Fernando Santos has been placing his hopes on a Pepe vs. Danilo Pereira showdown. A decision that has paid off for Portugal as they have only let in two goals across their four matches in the Nations League. The Paris Saint-Germain player is a trained defensive midfielder, and he occasionally has trouble adopting the correct reactions when playing central defense. This is even though he has had good performances. In addition, the Paris Saint-Germain player recently turned 31 years old, meaning that this approach will only be effective for a limited amount of time.
Jose Fonte, the same profile in less strength
In the next few days, José Fonte will follow Pepe’s lead and withdraw from consideration. José Fonte has been a member of LOSC since the summer of 2018, and he has swiftly risen through the ranks to become the team’s leader. However, the Portuguese are experiencing a little bit more difficulty this season. At the age of 38, José Fonte is finding himself in increasingly precarious situations and is frequently lagging behind ever-faster adversaries. However, the defender has a lot of experience. According to Opta Jean, the record for the European champion from 2016 is 46 consecutive matches played in their entirety in Ligue 1. On the other hand, Fernando Santos has decided not to include the Portuguese in his squad for the Nations League fixtures.
David Carmo, Pepe’s clubmate
The fact that FC Porto paid Braga €20 million to get the player who is now 23 years old speaks much about the player’s potential. He went on to become the most expensive player ever to sign with the club. When he was at Braga, he was quite successful, but now he is having trouble winning games at Porto. However, he has a certain Pepe backing him up in the club this season, so that’s not a problem. He might therefore benefit from the guidance of the legendary figure from Portugal and establish himself in the Portuguese defense in the same way that Pepe has done over all these years. However, after a very poor showing in his first game, Fernando Santos chose not to include him in his squad for the Nations League.
Antonio Silva, the most promising youngster
One of the most promising young talents in Portugal was raised at Benfica, where he won the Youth League during the previous season and was an unanticipated starter for the first team due to an injury for three weeks. Together with another former player, Otamendi, he makes up a solid defensive unit for the club. Antonio Silva has immense potential. He will be making his debut with the Portuguese Hopes after having recently received his first call-up.
Other names, such as Tiago Djalo, a resident of Lille who has been called up twice this month but has not yet played a single minute for team A, can also be noted. Djalo was called up for the second time. Goncalo Inacio, 21, plays left-handed but is also capable of playing right-handed. He maintains a three-man defense and received his training at Sporting. This past summer, PSG was keeping an eye on him. Or Domingos Duarte and Ruben Semedo, who have been called up frequently over the past three years but have had very limited playing time. There is nothing that can be left undone for these players to win Fernando Santos’ confidence.