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Duk’s advisor says striker has talent for world’s top leagues – but is desperate for European action with Aberdeen

Duk has formed a special bond with the Red Army, according to Roberto Rocha, who has detailed the prolific goalscorer's rise at some of Portugal's top clubs.

Luis 'Duk' Lopes of Aberdeen celebrates his second goal against Hearts a few weeks ago. Image: Shutterstock
Luis 'Duk' Lopes of Aberdeen celebrates his second goal against Hearts a few weeks ago. Image: Shutterstock

Aberdeen’s in-form goal hero Duk could star in any of Europe’s top five leagues, insists the 23-year-old’s former coach.

Roberto Rocha, who is also a close advisor to the player (real name Luis Lopes), is confident the Dons striker could shine in the English, German, Italian, Spanish or French top flights.

However, Rocha also revealed the striker is loving life at Aberdeen – and the bond he has forged with supporters – and is in no rush to leave.

Duk’s double in the 2-0 defeat of Kilmarnock at the weekend took the former Benfica striker’s tally to 17 goals in all competitions this season.

Signed for £400,000 last summer, Duk’s goalscoring form is attracting attention from across Europe.

A number of English clubs have placed the Cape Verde international on their radar with the view to a potential summer swoop.

Duk is also reportedly being tracked by Italian Serie A clubs Bologna and Spezia.

Rocha coached Duk at Associacao Desportiva de Oeira  and remains an advisor to the striker, who is contracted to the Dons until summer 2025.

He insists Duk wants to show his talents at the highest levels possible – including on the European stage with Aberdeen.

Rocha said: “Duk can play in the highest leagues, the top five in Europe.

“Talk about the highest clubs is different, but the highest leagues he can.

“I hope he keeps having opportunities to show himself at the highest level possible.

“For example, staying at Aberdeen he has the possibility of going into European competition.

“Duk is happy at Aberdeen and wants to do more for the team.

Aberdeen’s Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 against Kilmarnock. Image: SNS

“One of the most important things for him is the Aberdeen fans’ support. It is amazing. I was there with his family a few weeks ago and everyone is impressed with the love he is getting.

“I really think Aberdeen is a city that loves football.

“Duk was Premiership Player of the Month (for March) and it would be great if he can do that again.

“If he does well against Ross County and Rangers this month, anything is possible.”

Duk a prolific goalscorer at youth level

Duk’s red-hot form with Aberdeen has been the continuation of a pattern throughout his career.

He has been a prolific scorer at every club he has played for since his early teens.

Duk was secured by Sporting Lisbon at 12 years old as a centre-back, but was later released, despite scoring more goals than the strikers in his team.

Then, Duk joined his local club of Montelavarenses in Lisbon, where he netted 50 goals in a season and was spotted by Rocha.

Rocha signed the attacker for his club Oeiras and the goals kept coming.

Duk was top scorer at under-15 level in his first season, ahead of players from Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Benfica.

That form led to a move to Belenenses, where he was again top scorer in his league with 20 goals in 13 games, before a switch to Benfica two years later.

Aberdeen’s Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 against Dundee United. Image: SNS

Outscoring AC Milan target Beto

Duk played at Oerias around the same time as current Udinese striker Beto (real name Norberto Bercique Gomes Betuncal).

Serie A leaders Napoli and AC Milan are both reportedly lining up €35 million moves for Duk’s former team-mate.

But Duk outscored Beto when they were at Oerias.

Rocha said: “I will compare Duk to a player I know very well since he was a kid.

“Beto was at Oeiras and scored 13 or 14 goals.

“Then, two years ago, he was at Portimonense (in the Portuguese top-flight) and scored 13  goals.

“Everyone was talking about millions for him.

“He went to Udinese and has 10 goals this season and everyone is talking about him with AC Milan.

Udinese’s Norberto Beto (R) celebrates after scoring the 2-2 equaliser during the Italian Serie A soccer match against AC Monza. Image: Shutterstock

“Every season in the same league Duk was the top scorer, despite being younger.

“Duk did better and now they are talking about AC Milan for Beto.

“Duk just got a little bit behind because Benfica did not give him the opportunity – that was the problem.”

From youth talent to Pittodrie hero

Duk’s form at Belenenses prompted Sporting Lisbon to try to bring him back to the club in 2017.

However, Duk opted to move to Benfica, who he scored a double against in a 2-2 draw prior to his switch.

At Benfica, he would progress through the same youth system as Celtic attacker Jota.

The now-Dons attacker scored 11 times in 42 appearances for Benfica B in Liga Portugal B, with Jota scoring nine in 47.

During his time with Benfica’s U23 side, Duk netted 18 times in 41 appearances.

However, he never made a first team breakthrough and Aberdeen swooped last summer to give the attacker a platform to shine.

Rocha said: “I have known Duk since 2014 when he was my player and I got him from a very small club.

“He was at Sporting before, but then they dismissed all the players that were not living close to the academy.

“Then Duk moved to his hometown club (Montelavarenses) and was scoring 50 goals per season, but no-one would pick him.

“I was coach at Oerias and brought him there.

“In that season, he became the top scorer at year 15 in the county.

“I told Benfica that Duk is scoring more goals than any of your strikers, do you want him?

“They would always say he is too small. They wanted tall, strong strikers.

“So I put him in at Belenenses, which is the third best youth club in Lisbon and he killed it there again, scoring a lot of goals.

“Then Sporting came back for him, but Benfica also came in.

“And they moved him to Benfica in the middle of the season.

“Now Duk is very strong and powerful.”

‘Duk has the numbers’

Duk has netted five goals in the last four matches to help Aberdeen jump up to third in the Premiership table.

His impressive form was recognised with the Premiership Player of the Month award for March.

Aberdeen’s Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes with the cinch SPFL Premiership Player of the Month award for March. Image: SPFL

Duk fired Aberdeen to a sensational start with a goal after just 16.09 seconds in the win over Kilmarnock at the weekend.

He also bagged the Dons’ second goal.

Rocha said: “Duk has one thing that a lot of kids try to have – he has the numbers.

“People say he is not tall enough, but he scores more goals with his head than most other players.

“So I don’t think that is a problem.

“He holds the ball very well even when he is playing against very strong players.

“They do a lot of fouls on him because he protects the ball very well with his left and right foot.”

‘Humble’ Duk never lost his fire

Born in Cape Verde, Luis Lopes moved to Portugal with his parents as a young child.

He adopted his father’s nickname.

The striker would go on to represent Portugal at U18 and U19 age groups, where he was again a regular scorer.

However, he committed to the Cape Verde senior international team.

Duk featured in the African Cup of Nations qualifying double-header against Eswatini (1-0 win, 0-0 draw) last month.

Rocha has known Duk for a decade and describes him as a humble person – who never lost his fire, despite set-backs.

Aberdeen, and the Red Army, are now reaping the rewards.

Aberdeen’s Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 against Kilmarnock with teammate Bojan Miovski. Image: SNS

Rocha said: “He is so humble.

“I think he will always be like that and one of the reasons is his family is exactly like that.

“His father, his mother – they are the most humble family you can imagine.

“In the three years he was at Benfica, when he was 20 to 22 and waiting for his opportunity, Duk was more patient than any other kid would be.

“Many other kids would lose their fire – Duk didn’t.”