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Liverpool-linked Nuno Fernandes makes Portugal debut as Diogo Jota handed much-needed rest

Earlier this year, Liverpool were linked with Sporting Lisbon youngster Nuno Mendes.

Bruno Andrade, a journalist for Goal and A Bola, reported that the Reds have been keeping tabs on the 18-year-old.

Mendes, who has clocked up 35 appearances with Sporting, is a player Liverpool clearly like, then. They reportedly tabled a £22.5m offer for the player – but his club side said no.

The highly-rated teenager has a £63 million release clause in his Sporting contract, which he signed back in December. The deal runs until 2025.

Last night, he made his international debut for Portugal, starting in a 1-0 victory over Azerbaijan, as the European Champions got their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a winning start.

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Nuno Mendes of Portugal during the FIFA World Cup European qualifiers Quatar 2022 (Group A) match between Portugal and Azerbaijan at Juventus Stadium on March 24, 2021 in Turin, Italy. Portugal won 1-0 over Azerbaijan. (Photo by Massimiliano Ferraro/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Portugal show-off ridiculous squad depth

It’s no secret that Portugal are currently blessed with an array of extremely talented players, and last night was no different.

While the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Dias, Bernado Silva, Joao Cancelo and Andre Silva were all in the starting XI, it was Portugal’s bench which really typified just how deep their squad runs.

Amongst Fernando Santos’ substitutes was Liverpool sensation Diogo Jota. The £45 million man from Wolves was joined by the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Renato Sanches, Rafa Silva and Jose Fonte.

Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Jota an unused substitute

Jurgen Klopp would have been pleased to see Jota start this game on the bench.

Jota has only recently returned from a long-term knee injury, and it was good to see his isn’t being overused.

In fact, Jota didn’t come on at all for his country during last night’s win. His former club teammate, Pedro Neto, was selected ahead of him to lead a devastating attacking triumvirate alongside Ronaldo and Silva.

Remarkably, such a devastating forward line couldn’t break down a resilient Azerbaijan back-line. Portugal needed an own goal to sneak a 1-0 win.

Jota’s omission from yesterday’s match means he will likely start against Serbia at the weekend.

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