Raphael Guerreiro has made an immediate impact since joining Borussia Dortmund this summer, after being given a more central role by head coach Thomas Tuchel. bundesliga.com takes a closer look at the 22-year-old Portuguese sensation, who is already a European champion.
When Guerreiro joined up with the Portugal squad ahead of EURO 2016, he could hardly have imagined that he would go on to help his country land their first major trophy at the Stade de France – just a stone’s throw from where he was born, in Le Blanc-Mesnil.
But Guerreiro decided early on that he wanted to represent the country of his Portuguese father, rather than his French mother. And he made some start, scoring the winner in a high-profile friendly against Argentina in just his second appearance, and rather stealing the limelight from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Guerreiro quickly established himself as his country’s first-choice left-back, and caught the eye with a string of impressive performances at the EURO. Though technically a defender, his attacking abilities were there for all to see – to the extent that Ronaldo even let him take the odd free-kick.
Fast forward two months, and the 22-year-old is making a sensational start to life in the Bundesliga, having joined Dortmund from French club FC Lorient in July. Interestingly, Tuchel has chosen to give Guerreiro a more central role, pushing him up into midfield where he has more influence on the game and greater freedom to express his technical ability.
“I’m feeling good in my new position,” the Portuguese admitted. “Thomas Tuchel says that I can play an important role in midfield, which has given me a lot of confidence. But ultimately, I will play where the coach tells me to play. The most important thing for me is to help the team.”
Guerreiro certainly hasn’t disappointed on that score. In seven competitive outings this season, he’s already scored three goals and provided four assists. Tuchel appreciates his new signing’s versatility, explaining that “he is far too good to be restricted to one position”, and joking that “he is on his way to becoming the coach’s favourite.”
Guerreiro’s performances this season have even overshadowed those of the returning Mario Götze. He came on for the German international midway through the second half against SC Freiburg – though he was originally rested – and ended up grabbing Dortmund’s third goal in injury time. “Of course I like to score goals,” he smiled after the game. “Even if it’s not necessarily my job.”
It took him just four minutes to find the back of the net in the 5-1 thrashing of Wolfsburg – his first Bundesliga goal – and he went on to provide assists for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lukasz Piszczek. That five-star performance at the Volkswagen Arena earned him Player of the Week plaudits for Matchday 4.
Watch: Guerreiro's remarkable exploits against Wolfsburg.
The father-of-two has become a key figure for Dortmund in a remarkably short space of time, which he puts down to the fantastic team spirit in the BVB squad. “The other players have been really welcoming,” he explained. “We all get on very well off the pitch, which is a big help in games.”
After three seasons in Ligue 1 with Lorient, Guerreiro says he is also feeling very much at home in the Bundesliga. “A lot more football is played over here. It’s better suited to my game, to my abilities.”
Dortmund's rising star will have another opportunity to showcase those qualities as his side travel to Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Saturday, looking to maintain their nine-year unbeaten run at the BayArena.