Hello and welcome to The Academies, a Football Manager 2017 series which takes a look at some of the world’s best football academies and sees how their best prospects progress on FM17.
In this post we look at Sporting Lisbon. Cristiano Ronaldo came through the Lisbon academy before moving on to Manchester United and Real Madrid. The world superstar is one of many players to have benefited from the excellent Sporting facilities.
But are there any future superstars currently learning their trade in Lisbon? We follow the careers of four hot prospects to have come through the Sporting academy on Football Manager 2017.
The Players | Who could be the next wonderkid to emerge from the academy?
At 20 years of age Daniel Podence should be looking at consistent first-team football. He has developed into a promising winger with good dribbling, technique and pace. He appears to be more suited to playing as an inside-forward but could also be used as a striker.
Diogo Bras, like Podence, is a promising winger but four years younger. For his age a dribbling attribute of 15 is very impressive and with his high work rate he should be a top target for lower tiered clubs to loan. He, too, can play on both wings which adds to his versatility.
Sporting have a good set of young wingers in their youth academy and Elves Balde is one of them. He is a similar player to Diogo Bras, both 16, so it will be interesting to compare their development over the seasons. Balde is the quicker of the two wingers but is technically not as good.
The last of our youngsters, Pedro Marques is an 18 year old striker with very good mental and physical attributes. Though lacking in his technicals, Marques could develop these fairly quickly if given time on the pitch with either Sporting or a loan club.
Five years on | Which of our youngsters has developed the best so far?
League Appearances: 135
League Goals: 19
Looking at Podence’s appearances, it looks as though he’s made plenty of appearances. However, Daniel had already made 79 appearances by the age of 20 and therefore has only made just over 50 appearances in the last five years. As a 25 year old he needs to find more first team football.
League Appearances: 101
League Goals: 15
Diogo Bras remains a Sporting player and has spent a lot of time away on loan, allowing him first-team football to develop and progress as a player. His last four seasons were spent in Portugal but away from Sporting, meaning that Bras has been able to develop within Portuguese football.
League Appearances: 86
League Goals: 8
Elves Balde has also spent time away from Sporting on loan. He, in contrast to Bras, has spent more time in Spain than in Portugal, playing for the likes of Pamplona and Valencia. He has improved all round as a player and could well become an important player for Sporting moving forward.
League Appearances: 102
League Goals: 44
Pedro Marques spent two years away from Sporting with Vit. Guimaraes, honing his attacking skills as he pushes to become the number 1 striker for Sporting. He’s already scored close to 50 league goals in just over 100 matches for his various clubs, a very promising start to his career.
Retirement | Did our youth prospects reach their potential?
League Appearances: 403
League Goals: 67
In a career that was played across six countries, Podence won three league titles with three clubs and making over 400 league appearances. He was most at home with Belgian side Anderlecht, making more than 150 appearances for them over five seasons.
Sporting 1x Primeira Liga, 1x Taca de Portugal
Dinamo 1x Croatian First League, 1x Croatian Cup
Anderlecht 1x Belgian Pro League A, 3x Belgian Cup
League Appearances: 476
League Goals: 91
Diogo Bras remained a Sporting player until 2025, despite only making 2 first-team appearances for the club. He left them for fellow Portuguese outfit Vit. Guimaraes and helped the club with three Taca de Portugal’s in his time there.
Vit. Guimaraes 3x Taca de Portugal
League Appearances: 434
League Goals: 92
Elves Balde, in comparison to Diogo Bras, has clearly turned out the better of the two young wingers. He left Sporting in 2023 for German side Bayer Leverkusen and helped them to the German title. He then moved on to Ajax before finishing his career in Poland with Legia.
Sporting 1x Taca de Portugal
Leverkusen 1x Bundesliga, 1x German Cup
Ajax 1x Eredivisie, 1x Dutch Cup
Legia 1x Polish FA Cup
League Appearances: 426
League Goals: 212
When you look at the career statistics you’d say Pedro Marques has had the most successful career. Yet, despite scoring a fraction under a goal every two games, Marques achieved no competition wins in his career, perhaps suggesting that he was the star player in weaker teams.
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Thanks for reading one of our several youth academy posts. If you enjoyed it, be sure to check out our other posts in The Academies.
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