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Following in some big footsteps

Gonçalo Guedes (left) celebrates his first Valencia goal, against Sevilla, with Simone Zaza.
Gonçalo Guedes (left) celebrates his first Valencia goal, against Sevilla, with Simone Zaza. / EFE
  • a look at la liga

  • Gonçalo Guedes has made himself comfortable at his temporary home in Valencia and is already being compared to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo

I'm not one for 'second comings' and 'next new' tags but... we could be about to see Portugal's latest contribution to the very top echelons of world football.

Step forward Gonçalo Guedes. He's actually stepped so far forwards defenders are finding it impossible catch him.

He was the first 18-year-old to play for Portugal since Cristiano Ronaldo, he shares the same agent and many of the same footballing attributes as the freshly-crowned FIFA World Player of the Year. However, I'd contend that his characteristics are more similar those of Luis Figo.

He may have been unfamiliar to most of us but he was identified as a target very early in his career by the talent spotters in Manchester and Paris. PSG nipped in to pay 30 million euros to lure him from Benfica ten months ago but he struggled to get a peg in their locker room bursting with platinum players and so he was packed off to Valencia for his year abroad.

I'd seen him star for the Portugal under 21s in the Euros and so I was familiar with his incredible natural abilities. His foster club took a little time to make him feel at home but now he's unpacked, he's tearing the place up.

He's not all step-overs and posturing like the man I'm sure he idolised in his youth. He has the ability to start a run from deep, knowing as he strides forwards whether he's going to blast it towards the top corner or cut it accurately into the path of a colleague.

Already this season he's shown the vision to create five goals for his team mates and weighed in with three himself.

Every game he seems to reach a new level. He flew in a spectacular long-range effort against Real Betis and followed it up by brushing aside Sevilla with two goals. One was particularly eye catching. He picked the ball up just inside the attacking half, outpaced three very capable defenders, halted his run, adjusted and flew it into the top corner.

Just like Figo, he has pace, accuracy, but most tellingly, an ability to read the intentions of defenders. What's more, Figo was also signed and loaned out for the first year of his contract (Figo stayed in Lisbon).

Back in Paris they still haven't witnessed the full force of Guedes as they are caught up in Neymar-mania, but here's a question... who is most likely to win the Balon D'or first, Neymar or Guedes? You would get very good odds on the 20-year-old and it may be a very wise investment.

It promises to be an exciting bonus year for the long-suffering supporters of Valencia.