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Argentine Tango in Liga NOS

Futebol com Talento | 28/05/2020
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Remember the several stars from Las Pampas who left their mark in Portugal

Over the years, Argentinian talent has rhymed with offensive brilliance in Liga NOS. In the history of the main competition of Portuguese football, several stars came from Las Pampas to spread magic and - in most cases - with a clear mission of being the most prominent as possible in the attacking sector.

The best example of this tendency arrived in Portugal in 1971 and represented Sporting CP for four seasons. Héctor Yazalde, who played for Independiente before signing with Sporting CP, scored 104 goals for the Lions... in 104 games.

This goal-scoring record earned the Sporting CP striker the Top Scorer award in two consecutive seasons, with particular emphasis to the 1973-74 season, where he helped Sporting CP becoming champions by scoring 46 goals, which made him win the Golden Boot in that year.

More recently, another Argentinian talent has also showed a scent for goal, which would also earn him the award of Top Scorer in Liga NOS: Lisandro Lopez. It was in 2007-08 that the current Racing Club player was decisive for FC Porto on winning their third consecutive championship title with his 24 goals.

"Licha", as he is referred in the world of football, scored a total of 49 goals in 106 games of Liga NOS, making him the second-best Argentinian scorer in the history of the competition.

However, another Argentinian made a huge contribution for Lisandro López' incredible goal-scoring record: Lucho González. "El Comandante's" first four seasons for the Dragons matched with the path of Lisandro López at the Blues, where both players were a key duo for FC Porto on achieving their fourth consecutive championship.

The former captain of the Blues would still return in 2011-12, leaving Liga NOS two years later with a total of 168 appearances.

However, anyone who thinks that Lucho Gonzalez is the Argentinian with the most appearances in the history of Liga NOS is wrong. Ávalos, the center-back who represented Boavista FC, CD Nacional, Belenenses and União da Madeira, played 11 seasons in the Portuguese professional competitions, 8 of which in Liga NOS.

Completing the podium of Argentinians with most appearances in the main competition of Portuguese football is Eduardo Salvio, immediately followed by his former teammate Nicolás Gaitán.

The former SL Benfica winger duo arrived in Portugal in 2010-11 and, after a gap year motivated by Salvio's return to Atlético de Madrid, they both shone until 2015-16, when Gaitán joined the "Colchoneros" (Salvio remained at SL Benfica until 2018-19).

In total, these two players scored 63 goals, making them the winger duo that helped the team win their third consecutive championship between 2013-14 and 2015-16.

However, when we talk about Argentinian wingers that shone for the Reds, we must not forget to mention Di Maria.

The current winger of Paris Saint-Germain was one of the best players in Liga NOS between 2007-08 and 2009-10, culminating with the championship title for the Eagles – a title that was previously won by FC Porto for four consecutive years - where he would then move to Real Madrid at the end of the season.

SL Benfica's 2009-10 champion squad had also another world-class Argentinian player in their team: Pablo Aimar.

"El Mago" arrived at SL Benfica in 2008-2009 and for five seasons he spread his magic on every Portuguese pitch, from where he bid farewell to European football.

In Liga NOS, the childhood idol of Lionel Messi, who Jorge Jesus distinguished him as the best player who he has ever coached, scored 12 goals in 107 games.

Even though it is true that the Argentinian stars have excelled mainly in the attacking sector, there are some exceptions that appear in the back line of FC Porto and SL Benfica: Nicolás Otamendi and Ezequiel Garay.

The former FC Porto center-back was champion in all three seasons he represented the Dragons (he left the club in the 2013/14 Winter transfer window), and was also a key player on FC Porto's triumph at Europa League in 2010-11, in the notorious Portuguese final against SC Braga.

Meanwhile, Ezequiel Garay arrived with the difficult task of replacing David Luiz in the defensive duo with Luisão, but he would quickly win the admiration of the fans.

An undisputed starting-player in Jorge Jesus' squad, he helped SL Benfica reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2011-12 and two consecutive Europa League finals in the following seasons. On domestic level, he won the first championship of the Eagles during their winning streak in Liga NOS (four championships in a row).

Many talented Argentinian footballers represented the Portuguese professional competitions, and many other players could be also added to this list. Thus, since there is no shortage of options, it is almost impossible to answer the question: Who is the greatest Argentinian star that has ever played in Liga NOS?