Since his transfer to Paris last January from Benfica, Gonçalo Guedes has struggled to make an impact under the watchful eye of Unai Emery mostly due to limited playing time. With this summer’s UEFA Under-21 Championship taking place in Poland, the Portuguese striker hoped to make a statement heading into next season.
Portugal finished second in their group–three points behind Spain–but suffered an early exit from the tournament due to Germany having the best goal difference of all the second place teams. Guedes started two of Portugal’s three group matches but didn’t play any part in the last one against FYR Macedonia. His performances in both of the games he featured in were stark contrasts. He enjoyed a good start to the tournament by scoring a goal against Serbia and taking on defenders with impressive skill and technique.
Portugal’s match against Spain was a much different story. Featuring the likes of Hector Bellerin, Saul Niguez, Marco Asensio, and others, the Spaniards were the better side and ran out to a 3-1 victory. Guedes occupied an advanced position for the team by playing alongside a false 9. He struggled to get on the ball for most of the game and found it hard to beat his man. The defeat ultimately proved devastating for Portugal and likely kept them from progressing in the tournament.
On display during the tournament was Guedes’ pace and willingness to chase down the ball on defense. The 20-year-old will have to show Emery a lot more though if he wants to earn more playing time next season. Guedes’ three-week holiday will see him miss the start of the preseason tournament in the United States but he should return in time for the Trophée des Champions against AS Monaco.