22 Midfielder Sporting CP Portugal
Flying under the radar, João Mário is quietly becoming a really good player and an IBWM house favourite. There’s a way to go before we know if he’s going to be great, but we’ve got a crush. William Carvalho continues to hoover up the column inches while his teammate here is busy signing new 5-year contracts and putting a string of impressive performances together. He may not have the profile yet but the talent’s coming along nicely.
2015 has been…
…lots of fun, but don’t tell anyone.
At the moment there is a rich seam of midfield talent in the Primeira Liga, the aforementioned William, Adrien Silva, André André (so good they named him twice) and Rubén Neves are all great to watch, and now add to that João Mário who has quickly become one of the most entertaining players to follow on the entire list this year. We’re suckers for Portuguese football at the best of times but we admit we’ve gone full American schoolgirl in an 80s movie here - pictures on our locker, day dreams, head tilts when we watch him and regular full swoons. Will he stand outside our window holding up his boom box one night? Probably not, but we can dream.
He was superb in the summer’s U21 Euros and it was his goal that sunk England in their opener. He scored another against Germany in the semi-final rout that took everyone by surprise, and converted his penalty in the shootout with Sweden in the final. His maturity on the ball is incredible and accordingly he already has several full international caps match the ones earned at every level from U15 upwards.
He’s a midfielder who can take a game by the scruff of the neck, we’ve never witnessed him shirk any level of responsibility and whispers he sets the tempo far better than William for our money. His touch is excellent, his range of passing developing and he loves to take people on. The thing that really made us fall is also, perhaps, the thing we need to criticise him for in truth. He does have a tendency to go for the spectacular when something a little more routine may have worked better, but who on earth wants to see that all the time? This is a player, IBWM 4 João 4 lyf, IDST.
We hope more of the same. He’s not prone to the sort of transfer speculation some of his teammates “enjoy”, and that contract signed in the summer means he is now at a level of parity with the upper end of Sporting’s squad. There’s no reason to go anywhere and we like that, everything just sort of fits, you know?
We’re so effusive in our love here that we ran this by an expert, no less-a-light than Andy Brassell, and he confirmed our affections were extremely well placed and he harbors similar feelings himself. At the moment this feels like a secret, one of them you want to keep under wraps before everyone knows about him and ruins it. Sign him on Football Manager, get him in your FIFA Dream Team and feel smug. Exciting, consider this an official IBWM stamp of approval.
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