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Portugal's Ricardo adapting to new role at Porto

Top scorer for Portugal in qualifying, FC Porto's Ricardo has spent time this season at right-back rather than up front, giving U21 coach Rui Jorge another option in June.

Ricardo scored five goals in ten outings for Portugal in qualifying
Ricardo scored five goals in ten outings for Portugal in qualifying ©Getty Images

In the third part of our series on players to watch at June's UEFA European Under-21 Championship in the Czech Republic, UEFA.com focuses on Portugal's five-goal top scorer in qualifying, Ricardo.

Having begun his professional career as a winger with Vitoria SC, for whom he scored the winner in the 2013 Portuguese Cup final, Ricardo has spent some of this season playing at right-back for FC Porto. A useful option for U21 coach Rui Jorge, should he need it this summer.

Clubs: CF Benfica (youth), Sporting Clube de Portugal (youth), A. Naval 1º de Maio (youth), Vitoria SC, FC Porto

UEFA honours

• Born in Lisbon, Ricardo Domingos Barbosa Pereira started out with local team Clube Futebol Benfica before joining the Sporting academy in 2004. He spent six years in the Lions' youth ranks but was released in 2010, aged 17.

• He continued his development at Naval and a year later moved north, to Guimarães, making his professional debut on 1 April 2012 in a 3-1 home victory over FC Paços de Ferreira. Ricardo was given his first senior start almost six weeks later, playing the full game as Guimarães lost 2-1 to A. Académica de Coimbra.

2002 group stage: Portugal v England

• The 2012/13 campaign marked Ricardo's breakthrough. Operating as a winger, he made 27 Portuguese Liga appearances as Guimarães finished ninth. He saved all his goals for the Portuguese Cup, registering five times in the club's maiden triumph, including two in the semi-final against CF Os Belenenses and the clincher in the final, a 2-1 comeback success over SL Benfica. "It was, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest moment of my career so far," he said. "A moment I will hold forever in my heart."

• His performances attracted the attention of Porto, who agreed a deal to sign him in April 2013. In 2013/14, Ricardo alternated between the Dragons' B side and the first team for much of the season. However, Luís Castro's appointment as interim coach for the last two months of the campaign coincided with a run of matches for Ricardo, who notched his second Liga goal for Porto in a 2-1 final-day win against champions Benfica.

In UEFA Champions League action
In UEFA Champions League action©AFP/Getty Images

• The arrival of Julen Lopetegui as coach in summer 2014 heralded a change of position for Ricardo – as an experiment he switched to right-back, deputising for Danilo. The results have been encouraging, with Ricardo saying: "I still think of myself as a forward, but I'm feeling more and more comfortable as a defender." Porto's faith in Ricardo was demonstrated when, in September 2014, he inked a new contract committing him to the cause until 2019.

• Ricardo represented Portugal at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, scoring once in four outings, and soon made his U21 debut as a substitute in a friendly against Switzerland. He netted the first of his five goals in qualifying for the Czech Republic during a 25-minute cameo against Norway. Ricardo figured in all of Portugal's ten victories, the last of them a dramatic 5-4 second-leg defeat of play-off opponents the Netherlands in which he was on target twice.

They say
"I like Ricardo a lot. He is a player with great potential. We have been working with the possibility of adapting him to a right-back. He is young, he can learn and we have to consider this alternative for him."
Julen Lopetegui, Porto coach

Ricardo has deputised for Danilo
Ricardo has deputised for Danilo©AFP/Getty Images

"He is a friend and a person with lots of character who has shown he is up to the task of replacing me whenever the situation dictates. Ricardo works hard every day, he is an example to us all, and we all try to help him and advise him the best we can."
Danilo, Porto defender

He says
"I believe in my qualities. I am young and I still have lots to improve. Me and the other players at the club, we all work hard so that one day we can be regulars in the first team."