Portuguese football has often been the ideal place for footballers to grow, develop, and improve. It offers an attack-minded league that, while not financially strong, provides opportunity to players locally and from afar. One of the most prominent parts of the Portuguese football economy, though, is giving imports from less fashionable football nations a shot. One country that has benefitted massively from this is Iran.
Iranian football is in a good place, with the men’s national team currently unbeaten in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification. Part of that comes from the multiple different cultures which houses the best players from Iran today. Players in the national side play in numerous leagues, and arguably the leading name in the national side alongside Sardar Azmoun is fellow striker Mehdi Taremi.
At 6ft 2, Taremi is a powerhouse of a striker with a reputation for big goals in big games. With over 50 caps for his country, and 26 goals, he is a prolific marksman at AFC level. Since 2019, though, he has been one of the best strikers in Portuguese football.
Having scored plenty of goals for Iranjavan and Persepolis in his native Iran, Taremi moved to Al-Gharafa in the Middle East. There, he scored an impressive 13 goals in just 30 games, and ensured he was a regular cap for his national side.
However, it was a move to Rio Ave in 2019 that seen Taremi really take off in terms of national popularity. A single season with the mid-table outfit seen him impress, scoring 18 goals in 30 games. This attracted the interest of teams from abroad, but also the local giants of Portuguese football.
FC Porto would win the race, picking the player up in 2020 on a four-year contract.
Is Taremi set for another big move?
His arrival in Portugal was impressive, but his form for the Dragons has been nothing short of outstanding. A strong first domestic season seen him play a role in the club winning the 2020 Supertaca Candido de Oliveira. With 16 goals in his first season, he helped the Portuguese giants qualify for the UEFA Champions League once again.
However, it was in Europe that his presence was most felt. He scored in the round of sixteen tie against Juventus, becoming the first Iranian to score at this level of football. In doing so, he helped Porto reach the last eight, where they lost 2-1 on aggregate to Chelsea. His overhead kick against the Blues, though, was voted as the Goal of the Season by UEFA.
While he was unable to end his first season with Porto with a major trophy, his club side site unbeaten in the league and look likely to make the knockout rounds of the UCL once again. An impressive return of 7 goals in 9 games so far builds on his 16 in 34 from last year, marking Taremi out as one of the best strikers born outside of Europe.
This season, he has enjoyed more domestic and personal success. So much so that, even at 29, many big clubs in England and Spain are looking at bringing in the Iranian. While Sardar Azmoun might be the big-name in Iran soccer on the move in 2022 given his contract status, do not discount Taremi in getting a move.