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Thursday, 17 December 2009 12:22

Ruben Micael – Portugal’s next big thing?

Nacional da Madeira midfielder primed for big move

Ruben MicaelIt was a surprise to many when Ruben Micael, Nacional’s cultured midfielder, was voted by Portugal’s top flight coaches as the “revelation of the year” in 2008/09, beating FC Porto’s Hulk to the prize despite the Brazilian striker’s explosive entrance into Portuguese football.
 
The 23-year-old’s performances this campaign have confirmed that last season was no “flash in the pan”. Micael has been outstanding in all competitions, but his displays in the Europa League especially have caught the eye further afield.
 
It’s hardly surprising. Seven goals in eight games in the Europa League would be an impressive tally for a striker playing for one of Europe’s biggest clubs, let alone a midfielder at the heart of a modest team who are new to this level of competition.
 

World Cup chance

The U21 international has been on the fringes of the senior national team, and it’s difficult to argue with his affirmation that “if I played for one of the big three, I would be in the Seleccao.” That said, a place in Portugal’s squad for South Africa is a very real possibility.
 
Micael did not leave in the summer chiefly because Nacional president Rui Alves was convinced the value of his chief asset would continue to rise. The islanders had cashed in on striker Nene, with the 4 million euro fee paid by Cagliari meaning the club did not require their coffers boosting. It has proved a wise decision.
 
Moreover, the Madeiran-born player himself was more than happy to stay where he was for a while longer. “When we qualified for the Europa League I asked the president to stay, as I wanted to play in this phase,” said Micael.
 

Dedication

Coach Manuel Machado, currently sidelined through illness, was so confident in the talents of his midfield maestro that he challenged Micael to score seven goals in the competition. “I’d like to say to the boss Machado that he lost the bet, as I scored seven goals! All the goals are dedicated to him,” said Micael immediately after his brace in yesterday’s 5-1 thumping of Austria Vienna.
 
It is inevitable that Micael will now leave. Sporting are the latest in a long line of clubs said to be keen on contracting the player, but it is doubtful whether the Lions can pay anything near Nacional’s 10 million euro asking price.
 
“I only know that while I’m at Nacional I will give the club my best. Some people doubted that, but I will always give my best. I’m here with my body and soul. I don’t know anything about any offers – that’s the President’s area,” added Micael. Watch this space.

by Tom Kundert
 
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