A remarkable XI of players sold by Benfica since 2010: Lindelof, Silva, Luiz…

Quick Reads

Some of the best players now plying their trade at European superclubs were once at Benfica.

While producing a number of notable names through their excellent academy themselves, Benfica have obviously scouted well and are often responsible for bringing over some of the best talent from Latin America.

We’ve compiled a pretty impressive team of players sold by Benfica since 2010, organised in a 4-3-3 formation.

Jan Oblak

It takes some doing to get in ahead of Manchester City’s Ederson, but Oblak has established himself as one of the very finest goalkeepers in the world since making the €16million switch from Benfica to Atletico Madrid in 2014.

In 151 La Liga games, he’s conceded just 90 goals and kept 80 clean sheets. That, frankly, is absolutely f*cking mental. He’s blessed with a sturdy defence in front of him, but he makes his fair share of contributions, boasting the best save percentage in the league this season.

Nelson Semedo

The right-back, a Lisbon native, has been a good bit of business for Barcelona at €30.5million. He’s had to bide his time and faces competition from the club’s academy product and all-round handy utility man Sergi Roberto, but he’s slowly but surely establishing as the first-choice right-back at one of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Victor Lindelof

The Swede, like every other centre-half in the post-Ferguson era at Manchester United, has had his struggles and failed to convince at times since his transfer from Benfica in 2017.

But after impressing at the 2018 World Cup with his country, in which they reached the quarter-final based on solid foundations at the back, he’s generally improved for his club and been one of few players at United to emerge with any credit this season.

David Luiz

The 32-year-old has been playing at the top level ever since he left the Eagles in 2011. A bewildering player at times, he’s nevertheless a force to be reckoned at his very best.

Quite a trophy haul, too. After winning the Primeira Liga with Benfica in 2010, he’s added two French titles at PSG before returning to Chelsea to win the Premier League under Antonio Conte in 2016-17.

There’s also the Champions League in 2012, while a year later he won the Europa League with the Blues, beating his former club Benfica in the final.

Joao Cancelo

We’re cheating a bit here as Cancelo has also been playing on the right of a back four for Juventus and tends to get in ahead of Semedo for the national team. But Benfica haven’t produced quite as many players on the left, with Fábio Coentrão’s career declining during his time at Real Madrid.

Among the very best full-backs in European football this season, Cancelo can also play on the left, and so gets the nod there in this team. Indeed, Inter boss Luciano Spalletti would often use him there whilst he was on loan at the San Siro in the 2017-18 season.

“If Cancelo plays badly on the left, he’ll tell you it’s because he should’ve been on the right,” Spalletti said. “All players do that, him more than most. He is two-footed, can emerge from very difficult situations with the quality of a trequartista rather than a full-back, so I moved him to push more down that flank.”

Axel Witsel

The Belgian international went somewhat under the radar during his five years at Zenit Saint Petersburg before moving to Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian during the 2017-18 campaign. But he’s shown his quality as he helped turned Lucien Favre’s Borussia Dortmund into title challengers since he moved back to Europe last summer.

Bryan Cristante

The Italian central midfielder moved from Milan to Benfica in 2014, spending four years on their books, but making few appearances for them as he made several loan moves back to Serie A.

Both Milan and Benfica will be rueing letting him go on the cheap. After impressing at Atalanta, he’s since joined Roma and been a revelation. Still just 24, he could well be the future of Italy’s midfield.

Bernardo Silva

Benfica fans didn’t get to see a great deal of Silva, who made just one senior league appearance, but they can be proud their academy produced such a gem of a player.

A key cog in Monaco’s miraculous title win over PSG, he’s since won the Premier League with Manchester City. Now playing more of a first-team role than ever, he’s really stepped up for the injured Kevin de Bruyne as they’ve battled to retain their crown.

Angel Di Maria

Di Maria was Real Madrid’s best player as they won La Decima in 2014 and may well have helped Argentina lift the World Cup that year had he not been injured for the final.

After enduring a strange, frustrating 2014-15 under Louis van Gaal at Manchester United, he’s since enjoyed a resurgence at PSG, remaining an important player in spite of stiff competition from Neymar.

Those that follow Benfica will remember his raw talent between 2007 and 2010, helping them lift the title in his last season in the Portuguese capital.

Goncalo Guedes

Another Benfica academy product, he was widely considered to be one of the most exciting young wingers in Europe as he helped Valencia qualify for the Champions League in 2017-18.

It’s been a quieter campaign this time around, but he’s steadily grown into the season as Valencia have gone deep into the Copa del Rey and Europa League, and it was his last-second winning goal against Krasnodar that kept them alive in the latter.

Raul Jimenez

The Mexican striker failed to make much of an impact at Atletico Madrid when he was brought in to supplement the title-winning squad in the summer of 2014. A year later he moved to Benfica, where he helped them win back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017, with a roughly one-in-four strike rate.

He’s now enjoying the most prolific season since coming through at Club America in Mexico, with 17 goals in all competitions at Wolves.


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