Cristiano Ronaldo remains a doubt for Portugal's next Nations League game against Sweden on Tuesday after missing Saturday's 4-1 win over Croatia with an infected toe.

Santos revealed the nature of Ronaldo's problem in his media conference ahead of the Croatia clash, confirming the infection was thought to have been caused by a bee sting.

Portugal had no issues in his absence at the Dragao, as Joao Cancel, Diogo Jota, Joao Felix and Andre Silva did the damage against a Croatia side that hardly threatened at all before Bruno Petkovic's consolation late on.

The Nations League's defending champions will hope to build on this win by beating Sweden next week, and they could yet call upon Ronaldo, though Santos insisted that he was not resting the Juventus star.

"I wasn't resting him. If he was in good shape, he would have been [in the starting XI] able to play the game," Santos told RTP.

"Today he trained, feels better and, at the moment, he will travel to Sweden. Then we'll see.

"There is no injury, but he has to recover from that infection."

To say it was Portugal's first match in 10 months, the Selecao were exceptional against the 2018 World Cup runners-up.

They peppered the Croatia goal in the first half and then eased to victory in the second period as they proved more clinical.

Santos was impressed, though he stopped short of lavishing his team with praise – he had seen similar in training, therefore knew such a performance was possible.

"From what they did during the week, they showed me this was possible," he added. "This team knows each other well, the job was to remember what has been done before.

"The team corresponded, 100 per cent. There were some less good periods, but that is part of football."

Cristiano Ronaldo's absence proved no hindrance for Portugal as the Nations League holders began their title defence with a dominant 4-1 win over Croatia in Porto on Saturday.

Ronaldo, remarkably just one goal away from 100 for Portugal, was unavailable due to an infection in his toe believed to be caused by a bee sting, but the Selecao were flying at the Dragao despite the Juventus forward sitting in the stands.

Croatia's defensive third was a hive of activity throughout the first half as Portugal peppered the visitors' goal, hitting the woodwork three times before Joao Cancelo finally found a way through in spectacular fashion in the 41st minute.

Diogo Jota, one of those to hit the post in the first half, got a deserved goal - his first for Portugal - to double the hosts' advantage before the hour and Joao Felix added a third 20 minutes from time.

Bruno Petkovic's late consolation did little to take away from a routine win, which was wrapped up by Andre Silva in the final minute of injury time.

It did not take Portugal long to establish themselves as the dominant force, but their quest to find the breakthrough was initially a frustrating one.

Cancelo, Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix, who hit the post, had early opportunities, while Dominik Livakovic produced an unlikely double save to thwart Pepe.

Jota twice went close before the half-hour mark – first heading a Fernandes cross onto the upright and then lashing into the side-netting after a promising run.

Croatia's luckiest escape came in the 33rd minute as Raphael Guerreiro's long-range strike hit the left-hand post, struck Livakovic's foot and bounced just wide.

But Portugal's persistence paid off just before half-time, Cancelo picking out the top-left corner from distance.

Jota made it 2-0 with 59 minutes on the clock, racing on to Guerreiro's lofted throughball and finishing neatly into the bottom-right corner after holding off Tin Jedvaj.

Joao Felix put Portugal out of sight 11 minutes later, his powerful low drive too hot for Livakovic to handle.

Croatia finally offered a modest attacking threat in the latter stages, pulling one back through a smart finish courtesy of substitute Bruno Petkovic.

But a Portugal victory was never in doubt and Silva restored the three-goal cushion with a close-range finish at the death.

 

What does it mean? No Ronaldo, no problem

There will come a day when Portugal can no longer rely on their talismanic striker Ronaldo. While that may seem a way off even though he is 35, it must be reassuring for Fernando Santos and supporters to know this is a squad blessed with immense talent even without him.

Although an out-and-out striker was not selected in the starting XI, each of the front three – and Fernandes – were lively, linking well and producing some smart football against a strong Croatia. The breakthrough may have taken a little longer than it should have, but the overall performance had been full of positives already.

Fernandes makes Portugal tick

The Manchester United star was once again a fine performer here. An assist – albeit a simple pass that was followed by a long-range shot – and six key passes highlights the influence Fernandes. He was key in pushing Portugal up the pitch and was a real leader in Ronaldo's absence.

Jedvaj given the runaround

It was a difficult day at right-back for Jedvaj. One of Portugal's most fruitful avenues in attack was down their left, with Jota causing the full-back no end of issues.

What's next?

Portugal go to Sweden on Tuesday, while Croatia will hope to bounce back away to France the same day.

Barcelona winger Francisco Trincao has been called up to the Portugal squad for the first time for September's Nations League matches against Croatia and Sweden.

The 20-year-old has joined Barca for the start of 2020-21 after a €31million fee was agreed with Braga.

Trincao and Granada goalkeeper Rui Silva, who is also uncapped, have been included in Fernando Santos' 25-man squad for the start of their Nations League defence.

Wolves quartet Rui Patricio, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Diogo Jota have been included, as has Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes, despite the two clubs having competed in the latter stages of the Europa League this month.

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva and Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix are all in the squad.

Portugal face Croatia at Estadio do Dragao on September 5 before taking on Sweden in Solna three days later.

Portugal squad in full:

Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rui Patricio (Wolves), Rui Silva (Granada); Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Nelson Semedo (Barcelona), Domingos Duarte (Granada), Jose Fonte (Lille), Pepe (Porto), Ruben Dias (Benfica), Mario Rui (Napoli), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund); Danilo Pereira (Porto), Ruben Neves (Wolves), Andre Gomes (Everton), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Renato Sanches (Lille), Joao Moutinho (Wolves), Sergio Oliveira (Porto); Diogo Jota (Wolves), Andre Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Francisco Trincao (Barcelona), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid).

Spain have announced they will travel to Portugal for a friendly on October 7. 

The fixture between the neighbouring countries will be staged in Lisbon ahead of both featuring in Nations League games during the October international window. 

Luis Enrique's squad are scheduled to host Switzerland on October 10 before travelling to Ukraine three days later - Germany are the other team in Group 4. 

Defending champions Portugal, meanwhile, are away to France on October 11, followed by a home game against Sweden.

Spain are also set for friendly duty against the Netherlands in November, with that meeting originally set to take place in March before the coronavirus pandemic caused major changes to the schedule.

Euro 2020 was pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 crisis, with the tournament now set for June and July in 2021.

Cristiano Ronaldo will "probably" play out the final years of his career in MLS, according to his former Manchester United and Portugal team-mate Nani.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has established himself as one of the sport's all-time greats, winning four of his five Champions League trophies during a nine-year spell with Real Madrid.

He left the Santiago Bernabeu as their all-time leading goalscorer and has surpassed 700 for club and country since moving to Juventus in 2018.

Although he is showing few signs of decline – as evidenced by his 21 goals in Serie A this term, equal to his tally in 2019-20 despite playing nine fewer matches – Ronaldo is now 35 years old.

Retirement does not appear to be imminent, however, with his Juve contract running for another two years, and he is seemingly planning on a spell in the United States before calling it a day.

"A couple of years ago, he told me that he will probably end up in America," Nani, who plays in MLS with Orlando City, told ESPN.

"It's not 100 per cent, but probably. There is a chance."

Nani is convinced by the quality of football in MLS, even if he does recognise there is still plenty of room for improvement.

"It is a great league," Nani said. "Obviously there are points where we must improve as a league, even in the quality of the players.

"[But] here you have fantastic clubs, well organised with fantastic conditions, great coaches, great players. You see every season improving.

"I think we all have the conditions in this league. We are in a great country, everything is around us. It is all about being better, not being afraid to improve."

Fernando Santos has extended his contract with Portugal, signing a deal to remain as coach through Euro 2024.

The 65-year-old took charge of his national team in 2014 and led the Selecao to glory at Euro 2016 and at the inaugural Nations League Finals in 2019.

His previous contract had been set to expire after Euro 2020, which has been pushed back until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Santos will remain in charge of that tournament and his extension includes the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and Euro 2024 too.

"It's a privilege for me and for my coaching staff to continue with this project," Santos said.

"We know we won't be able to win everything, but we will always try."

Santos, who has previously been in charge of Porto, Sporting CP and Greece, holds the record for the Portugal coach with the most wins.

The Selecao have won 44 of their 71 games under Santos.

Pep Guardiola has taken Bernardo Silva's game on to another level at Manchester City, according to former Portugal great Nuno Gomes.

Silva joined City from Monaco for £46.3million in May 2017 with a Ligue 1 winners' medal in his possession.

He has since been an integral part of the side that Guardiola has guided to six of the past seven major domestic honours on offer, including back-to-back Premier League titles.

Silva was voted City's player of the year in 2018-19 and went on to inspire Portugal to glory on home soil in the inaugural Nations League Finals.

Gomes told Stats Perform News he is a keen admirer of the 25-year-old.

"Bernardo is, for me at the moment, one of the best players that we have in Portugal," he said.

"With Pep he's improved a lot. I believe that Guardiola has said a lot of times that he is a massive fan of Bernardo Silva, and I believe Bernardo Silva, knowing that he has the trust and the confidence of the coach, he goes onto the field and he plays naturally, because he has a talent that is natural."

As he did during Monaco's run to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2016-17, Silva has excelled roving in from the right flank at City.

However, injury problems for Kevin De Bruyne last term meant he also spent a lot of time operating on the right of a central midfield three and Gomes feels the defensive side of the playmaker's game has come along considerably.

"He has improved also in terms of defending, the way that he pushes the opponent, [as well as] the way he can compromise [opposition] defensive situations, because with the ball he is one of the best," he added.

"I believe with Pep Guardiola, he has already improved a lot in his style of play, and I’m a big fan of Bernardo Silva."

Guardiola's men host Arsenal on Wednesday when the Premier League resumes from the coronavirus shutdown.

Liverpool are poised to end City's reign as champions, but Silva and his team-mates remain in contention in the Champions League and FA Cup.

Lisbon is supposedly being considered as a potential location for all remaining 2019-20 Champions League matches and Portugal great Nuno Gomes believes the city would be a "good solution".

The coronavirus pandemic brought top-level sport in Europe to a halt, with the final stages of the Champions League and Europa League pushed back indefinitely.

UEFA wants to complete both competitions once domestic leagues have been concluded, meaning the remaining fixtures could potentially resume in August.

Last week, reports began to emerge suggesting Istanbul would be unable to cover the cost of hosting the Champions League final without supporters being allowed to attend, and now UEFA are said to be considering alternative plans.

One apparent idea is for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final to be played at neutral venues in a single city and Lisbon is reportedly considered to be the strongest option, given Portugal's low coronavirus infection rate and the facilities of Benfica and Sporting CP.

Gomes agrees Lisbon would be an effective host, telling Stats Perform News: "For us Portuguese, I believe it is a good thing.

"After a lot of meetings they [UEFA] understood it's maybe better to do it in one place rather than everybody travelling around Europe.

"[Lisbon] is a good option, and I'm not sure if they already decided a final decision, but it's true a lot of views and conversations are being held in order to maybe give Lisbon the final eight of the Champions League.

"I think it's good for football to find a solution in order to finish the games that are missing because everybody is waiting for Champions League games."

Both the Europa League and Champions League were suspended in March during the round-of-16.

Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo played as a midfielder for Sporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan before retiring on 31 May 2009. He won 127 caps for the Portugal national team, a record at the time later broken by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Renowned for his creativity and ability to get past defenders as a winger, Figo is regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation.

His 106 assists are the second-most in LaLiga history, behind Lionel Messi.

He won the 2000 Ballon d'Or, 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year, and in 2004, Pelé named him in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.

Figo is one of the few football players to have played for both Spanish rival clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid. His controversial transfer in 2000 from Barcelona to bitter rivals Real Madrid set a world record fee of €62 million.

Figo had a successful career highlighted by several trophy wins, including the Portuguese Cup, four La Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, three Spanish Super Cups, one UEFA Champions League title, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, two UEFA Super Cups, one Intercontinental Cup, four Serie A titles, one Italian Cup and three Italian Super Cups.

On the international level, he scored 32 goals for Portugal, representing the nation at three European Championships and two World Cups, helping them reach the final but finish as runners-up at Euro 2004.

Playing Career

Full name: Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo

Date of birth: 4 November 1972 (age 47)

Place of birth: Almada, Portugal

Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)

Playing positions: Winger/Attacking midfielder

Clubs

Years                     Team              Apps      (Gls)

1989–1995          Sporting CP         137        (16)

1995–2000          Barcelona            172        (30)

2000–2005          Real Madrid          164        (38)

2005–2009          Inter Milan           105         (9)

Total                                            578        (93)

National team

1991–2006 Portugal

Honours

Sporting CP - Taça de Portugal: 1994–95

Barcelona - La Liga: 1997–98, 1998–99; Copa del Rey: 1997, 1998; Supercopa de España: 1996; UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1997; UEFA Super Cup: 1997

Real Madrid - La Liga: 2000–01, 2002–03; Supercopa de España: 2001, 2003; UEFA Champions League: 2002; UEFA Super Cup: 2002; Intercontinental Cup: 2002

Inter Milan - Serie A: 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09; Coppa Italia: 2006; Supercoppa Italiana: 2006, 2008

Individual

  • UEFA Under-21 Championship Golden Player: 1994
  • Portuguese Golden Ball: 1994
  • Sporting CP Player of the Year: 1994
  • Portuguese Footballer of the Year: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
  • ESM Team of the Year: 1997–98, 1999-00
  • La Liga Foreign Player of the Year: 1999, 2000, 2001
  • UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 2000, 2004[65]
  • World Soccer (magazine) Player of the Year: 2000
  • Ballon d'Or: 2000
  • FIFA World Player of the Year: 2001
  • FIFA World Player of the Year – Silver Award: 2000
  • UEFA Team of the Year: 2003[65]
  • UEFA Champions League top assist provider: 2004–05
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2006
  • Inter Milan Player of the Year: 2006
  • FIFA 100
  • Golden Foot: 2011, as football legend
  • IFFHS Legends

 

Cristiano Ronaldo would have hoped to have scored his 100th Portugal goal against Belgium on Friday.

The Juventus superstar is on 99 international strikes and is set to become just the second male player to reach a century, quickly closing on Ali Daei's record tally of 109 for Iran.

But amid the coronavirus pandemic, Portugal's March internationals have been cancelled.

Ronaldo will have to wait until later in the year at the earliest to bring up another career landmark, unable to take on either Belgium or Croatia.

There are plenty of highlights from his previous 99 Portugal goals, though, and we have selected five of the best.


Denmark v Portugal (October 11, 2011)

Ronaldo could have his own wing in the Hall of Fame for free-kicks and this effort would be at home among them.

Portugal were trailing 2-0 in the Euro 2012 qualifier with the match in injury time, but Ronaldo enjoyed a moment to remember by smashing home an unstoppable 30-yard effort from the left into the far corner with power and dip – a simply glorious strike.


Armenia v Portugal (June 13, 2015)

Nearly three years on and again in a European Championship qualifier, Ronaldo played a star turn as Portugal won a thriller 3-2 in Armenia.

Having already levelled from the penalty spot and put his side ahead with an impudent finish, Ronaldo celebrated his hat-trick by taking a beautiful touch from a dropping ball, turning sharply and lashing into the top-right corner from 25 yards.


Hungary v Portugal (June 22, 2016)

A year later, Portugal fell behind to Hungary in Lyon during Euro 2016 three times and it was Ronaldo who dragged his team level on the second occasion with a display of fine skill.

The captain added a deft flick with his trailing leg to Joao Mario's right-wing cross to make it 2-2, and he cancelled out Balazs Dzsudzsak's second with a double of his own. It was enough to send Portugal into the knockout stages, and from there, they claimed a maiden international title.


Portugal v Spain (June 15, 2018)

Having twice given his side the lead, Ronaldo found Portugal 3-2 down to their Iberian neighbours in their thrilling opener at the 2018 World Cup.

The was a sense of inevitability when he stood over an 88th-minute free-kick, though, and the execution was sheer perfection as he left David de Gea with no chance.


Portugal v Switzerland (June 5, 2019)

Another game, another Ronaldo hat-trick – this time at last year's inaugural Nations League Finals. It was again a trademark free-kick that got the Ronaldo ball rolling, and he swept home a second to restore Portugal's lead. 

But Ronaldo saved the best for the last in the final minute of normal time, picking up the ball wide on the left, adding a couple of trademark silky step overs, jinking inside the defender and rifling home into the bottom-right corner.

Leicester City defender Ricardo Pereira will miss the rest of the season - and most likely Euro 2020 - after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament.

The Portugal international hurt his knee during Leicester's 4-0 victory over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Monday.

Brendan Rodgers confirmed the right-back will be unavailable for selection for the rest of the campaign.

"We've got Ricardo Pereira who will be out for the rest of the season. He had a challenge and has hurt his ACL," Rodgers said on Thursday.

"He's not had an operation. He's just with the medical team. It's a blow for us. It's an opportunity for someone else. It's a shame.

"You've just got to see how the player reacts. You're looking between four to six months.

"That will be the time we are expecting."

There was further bad news for the Foxes in relation to James Maddison, who will be out until after the international break with a calf injury.

Furthermore, Rodgers also announced three Leicester players had "shown symptoms and signs" of coronavirus and were now isolated away from the rest of the squad.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread cancellation of sporting events and fixtures, though some will take place as scheduled but behind closed doors.

There have been 590 confirmed cases in the United Kingdom, with eight deaths.

Leicester sit third in the Premier League and are due to face Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

France and Croatia will play out a repeat of their World Cup final having been drawn in the same group in the 2020-21 Nations League with defending champions Portugal, while Germany and Spain will go head-to-head.

Fernando Santos' side won the inaugural competition last year, beating Netherlands 1-0 in the final thanks to Goncalo Guedes, though Group 3 looks set to significantly test their mettle this time around – Sweden also joining them with Croatia and France.

The format of the competition changes slightly this time around, with the groups containing four teams rather than three, but as before the top team from each of the four groups in League A will meet in the Nations League finals.

Italy will fancy their chances of reaching the final stages having been drawn with Poland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Netherlands, the latter likely their biggest challengers.

In Group 4, Germany and Spain will be the favourites ahead of Ukraine and Switzerland, while England and Belgium are in Group 2 with Iceland and Denmark.

The competition will commence in early September, with the Finals set for June 2021.

League A

Group 1: Poland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Italy, Netherlands

Group 2: Iceland, Denmark, Belgium, England

Group 3: Croatia, Sweden, France, Portugal

Group 4: Germany, Ukraine, Spain, Switzerland

LEAGUE B

Group 1: Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland, Romania

Group 2: Czech Republic, Scotland, Slovakia, Israel

Group 3: Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Hungary

Group 4: Wales, Finland, Republic of Ireland, Bulgaria

 

LEAGUE C

Group 1: Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro

Group 2: Armenia, Estonia, Macedonia, Georgia

Group 3: Moldova, Slovenia, Kosovo, Greece

Group 4: Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Belarus, Albania

 

LEAGUE D

Group 1: Malta, Andorra, Latvia, Faroe Islands

Group 2: San Marino, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar

Cristiano Ronaldo brought up 1,000 career appearances in Juventus' trip to SPAL in Serie A on Saturday.

A hero for Portugal, Sporting CP, Manchester United and Real Madrid across a decorated career, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has racked up a succession of impressive landmarks.

And there have been plenty of moments of magic that live long in the memory along the way.

Here, we take a look back at 10 of Ronaldo's very best goals.

 

Manchester United v Portsmouth: January 30, 2008

Perhaps the finest free-kick Ronaldo has struck in his career.

The Portuguese developed his reputation as a set-piece master at United and he lashed a phenomenal 25-yard effort past David James as part of a double to send Alex Ferguson's side to the top of the Premier League.

His knuckleball technique sent the ball swirling into the top-right corner for one of his defining Old Trafford moments.

 

Porto v Manchester United: April 15, 2009

He had absolutely no right to score this one.

Back in his homeland for a Champions League quarter-final against Porto, Ronaldo picked up the ball in the middle of the opposition half, got it out of his feet and sent a searing strike flying past Helton to seal a 1-0 win at the Estadio do Dragao and a 3-2 aggregate triumph.

 

Almeria v Real Madrid: April 15, 2010

Ronaldo has developed into more of a penalty-box poacher in recent seasons, but this effort against Almeria was a reminder of how devastating he could be when starting from outside the area.

Rafael van der Vaart won back possession in the Almeria half and the ball was worked to Ronaldo, who accelerated past two challenges, left a third defender for dead with a stepover, and drilled home with his left foot. The visitors would go on to win 2-1.

 

Sevilla v Real Madrid: December 17, 2011

Sevilla have grown sick of the sight of Ronaldo – he has scored 27 times against them, after all – but this strike in a 6-2 thrashing is perhaps the best of them all.

Collecting Karim Benzema's pass 30 yards out, Ronaldo took advantage of the time and space given to him by the defence to blast a shot into the top-right corner, the swerve on the ball making it totally unstoppable. It was one of three he scored that day at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

 

Real Madrid v Valencia: May 4, 2014

It was not enough to keep Madrid's title chase alive, but this was another goal that showcased Ronaldo's killer instinct and dexterity.

In second-half injury time, with Valencia 2-1 ahead, Angel Di Maria volleyed over a cross from the left and Ronaldo swivelled to score a backheel volley and snatch a point.

 

Real Madrid v Espanyol: January 31, 2016

Although his game had become more refined from those buccaneering early days, Ronaldo showed here he was not quite done when it came to solo runs and spectacular finishes.

With Madrid already 3-0 up in what would prove to be a 6-0 thrashing, James Rodriguez's pass was deflected into Ronaldo's path and he did the rest, showing brilliant footwork to skip beyond three challenges before rifling home from the edge of the area with his left foot.

 

Hungary v Portugal: June 22, 2016

Portugal fell behind to Hungary three times in Lyon during Euro 2016, and Ronaldo brought them level on the second occasion with a display of fine skill.

The captain added a deft flick with his trailing leg to Joao Mario's right-wing cross to make it 2-2, and he cancelled out Balazs Dzsudzsak's second with a double of his own. It was enough to send Portugal into the knockout stages and from there they went on to claim a maiden international title.

 

Juventus v Real Madrid: April 3, 2018

Arguably the best goal Ronaldo has produced.

Moving away from goal as Dani Carvajal dug a cross towards the penalty spot from the right, he rose into the air to connect with a marvellous overhead kick. His leg was at a right angle to his body as he struck with the sweetest of volleys that flew past Gianluigi Buffon.

 

Portugal v Spain: June 15, 2018

Having twice given his side the lead, Ronaldo found Portugal 3-2 down to their Iberian neighbours in their thrilling opener at the 2018 World Cup.

The was a sense of inevitability when he stood over an 88th minute free-kick, but the execution was sheer perfection – power and dip combined to leave David de Gea with no chance.

 

Juventus v Manchester United: November 8, 2018

Another decorated Portuguese was celebrating at full-time when Jose Mourinho watched his Manchester United team complete a 2-1 comeback win.

But Ronaldo struck first with a sumptuous and technically brilliant strike, watching Leonardo Bonucci's raking ball over his shoulder to volley home.  

Cristiano Ronaldo is set to make his 1,000th appearance for club and country when Juventus face SPAL in Serie A on Saturday.

The Portugal superstar was named in Maurizio Sarri's starting XI after being rested for the 2-0 win over Brescia last weekend.

Providing the 35-year-old comes through the warm-up unscathed, he will bring up his incredible landmark and seek to add to his tally of 724 goals. 

It will be the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's 73rd outing for Juve, with the bulk of his matches having come for Real Madrid (438).

Manchester United sit second on that list (292), with 31 of his games coming for Sporting CP, a further two for Sporting B and 164 for his country. 

At long last, one of the more wearisome transfer sagas of the past 12 months is nearing conclusion – Manchester United announced they have agreed a fee with Sporting CP for Bruno Fernandes.

It seemed for a while that Fernandes would join United in pre-season, but, despite their seemingly obvious need for midfield reinforcements, a move never materialised and he remained with Sporting.

Speculation began to stir again last month, and the two clubs are said to have been locked in talks for much of January – though reports of Barcelona apparently hoping to sign Fernandes in order to use him in negotiations with Valencia for Rodrigo Moreno surfaced earlier this week.

Whether or not that story was a ploy by an agent to jolt United into decisive action, who knows? But something seemed to change this week, as the Red Devils finally reached an agreement with Sporting.

Fernandes had a massive impact at the club during his two-and-a-half-year spell, becoming captain and scoring or setting up 67 Primeira Liga goals in 83 appearances.

United certainly don't have a 100 per cent hit-rate when it comes to signings from Portugal – below, we examined whether their previous imports from the Iberian nation have been misses or not.

Cristiano Ronaldo (2003-2009) – HIT

The one that needs no introduction – Ronaldo was a revelation for United following his 2003 arrival from Sporting. The lanky teenager dazzled against United when they faced Sporting for the opening of their Jose Alvalade stadium and, as the story goes, those he tormented implored Alex Ferguson to sign him. So, he did. Outrageously skilful and flashy, early Ronaldo was as fun as they come, but after bulking out he developed a deadly streak, netting 31 times in the 2007-08 Premier League season and helping them to Champions League success. He has since gone on to mark himself out as one of the all-time greats with Real Madrid, Juventus and Portugal.

Bebe (2010-2014) – MISS

From Ferguson's best to arguably his worst signing. Despite the Scot never seeing him play, Bebe is said to have arrived following a recommendation from Ferguson's former right-hand man, Carlos Queiroz. United reportedly paid Vitoria Guimaraes £7.5m for the attacker, but he immediately looked short of the required ability. He somehow managed to last four years at the club, including three loan spells. Most of his career since has been spent in Spain, and he's now playing for Rayo Vallecano in La Segunda.

Nani (2007-2015) – HIT

Few players polarised opinion quite like Nani during his time at United. Undoubtedly capable of the spectacular, he also had his fair share of underwhelming performances and could be infuriatingly frustrating. Like Ronaldo, Nani arrived from Sporting and it was initially said he struggled with the pressure due to comparisons with his United and Portugal team-mate. But in 2010-11 he established himself, producing some spell-binding performances to earn himself a place in the PFA Team of the Year and the United Players' Player of the Year award. Injuries then took their toll before leaving in 2015, going on to have something of a nomadic career ever since, though he has become Portugal's fourth-highest capped international.

Anderson (2007-2015) – MISS

Oh, what might've been. There's little doubt Anderson was immensely talented, but throughout his time with United there were concerns about his fitness and professionalism. He probably wasn't helped by being turned into something resembling a holding midfielder, given he thrived in a more attacking role previously, but he generally failed to live up to expectations. That's not to say he was hopeless – he amassed almost 200 appearances for the club, but given the promise he showed in his youth, he failed to reach his potential. Aged 31, he retired in September following a spell with Adana Demirspor in Turkey's second tier.

Victor Lindelof (2017-present) – HIT

After an unconvincing debut season following a move from Benfica potentially worth £38m, Lindelof has generally settled well at United and become a first-choice centre-back. Comfortable on the ball and a good reader of the game, the Sweden international is mostly dependable. Nevertheless, he's certainly not the perfect defender – he's not especially quick and does appear to struggle with physical forwards. So far, he can just about be regarded a 'hit', but United will surely be hoping for an improvement from him.

Marcos Rojo (2014-present) – MISS

Rojo always looked a somewhat puzzling addition, and those initial feelings have never really gone away. Technically able and versatile enough to play either centre-back or on the left, Rojo also relishes a physical tussle. But as something of a hot-head, Rojo has a tendency to be rash. Even Sporting fans were baffled when he joined United, who are said to have tried to sell him in almost every pre-season since buying the Argentina international. He now looks set to return to Estudiantes on loan.

Diogo Dalot (2018-present) – JURY'S OUT

Lauded as the best young full-back in the world by Jose Mourinho when he signed Dalot from his former club Porto in 2018, the Portugal Under-21 international is yet to prove that claim. He showed promise last season, with his ability on the ball and crossing earning acclaim, but he failed to hold down a spot at right-back despite United's concerning lack of quality in that position – Dalot's defensive capabilities proving unconvincing. The club then went out and splurged on Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Dalot, who has suffered numerous injuries, is undoubtedly talented, but a future as a regular at United might rely on him being converted into a winger.

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