In a ceremony last week, Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira received an honour from the Lisbon borough where he was born, São Domingos de Benfica, which is also the home of the club he has presided over for 15 years.

An emotional Vieira had to interrupt his acceptance speech several times as he wept when remembering his parents. Amid the headlines focusing on his tears, a significant statement got lost in the mix. “Benfica’s leaders realise running this club is a question of cycles. We will now discuss whether we will continue to invest, or whether we will drastically reduce the liabilities. I’m not talking about completely wiping off the debt [reported to be upward of €400m] but paying off a considerable amount of it.”

This would seem to be laying the ground for more big-money sales. With goalkeeper Ederson already rumoured to be on his way out the club, Benfica have no shortage of monied suitors for other talented players in their squad. PortuGOAL lists six enticing transfer targets from the 2016/17 double winners.


Nelson Semedo

The right-back has arguably been Benfica’s player of a highly successful season. Nelson Semedo made a promising start to his Benfica career last year, even pushing his way into Fernando Santos’s Portugal team, before injury struck him down. This term he has taken his game to the next level, tirelessly working the whole length of the right flank, blending solid defending with incisive attacking and slick combination play with his teammates on his marauding runs forward. Manchester United and Barcelona are said to among his admirers.

Victor Lindelöf

The Swedish powerhouse defender was close to signing for Manchester United in the January transfer window, and the English giants are expected to come back for him this summer. Called into the Benfica defence in an emergency 18 months ago with both Luisão and Lisandro Lopez injured, Lindelöf jumped from being 4th-choice centre-back to undroppable following a string of faultless performances both domestically and in Europe – including impressive displays in two legs against Bayern Munich. Physically imposing, quick, composed and adaptable (he can also play at right-back), it will be a surprise if he is still a Benfica player by the end of August.

Alex Grimaldo

A graduate of Barcelona’s famous La Masia football academy, Grimaldo has been outstanding this season. A cultured left-back, he is an accomplished defender, but it is his clever link-up play when lending his support to the attack that catches the eye, in addition to being an excellent free-kick taker.


Still only 27, the Portuguese midfielder has a wealth of experience, including in La Liga where he played for Deportivo La Coruna and Atlético Madrid. Originally a winger, Pizzi has excelled for Benfica in central midfield over the past three seasons, and was pivotal in another highly successful campaign for his team this year, setting a club record for the most games played by an outfield player in a single season: 52. Maintaining consistently high standards in 2016/17, with 13 goals and 8 assists, it is no surprise he is now a regular in the Portugal squad.

Rafa Silva / André Carrillo

These two players belong to a different category as both wingers had forgettable seasons. Portugal international Rafa failed to live up to his €16m price tag, while Peruvian Carrillo struggled to make any sort of impact after his controversial move from Lisbon neighbours Sporting. With diminutive Argentine winger Cervi enjoying a fine debut season, and his compatriot Salvio showing no signs of slowing down on the opposite flank, Benfica may decide to cut their losses and release at least one of their surplus wingers if a suitable offer is on the table.


Benfica coach Rui Vitória appears unworried about whatever hand he is dealt next season. Asked yesterday about whether he is worried about losing players in the summer, he replied: “That’s the way it is at a club like ours. Our country develops footballers, but can’t keep hold of them. We will look for new solutions and some from within the club.”

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    It looks as though Ederson is almost certain to be on his way out and I think Lindelof and Semedo are also likely going to be leaving, especially when you consider how many elite clubs are going to be in the market for quality center-backs and right-backs this summer. Pizzi, in my opinion, has been our best player this season and his offensive production in terms of goals, assists, and chances created are absolutely incredible for someone who operates in the #8 position. That being said, I do feel like his statistics and performances need to be analyzed within the context in which he plays. In other words, starting as a #8 on the best team in the Primeira Liga is his niche, and when he plays outside of that environment (especially in Europe against quality opposition), his defensive flaws are regularly exposed. Therefore, since scouts who represent elite club sides will be well aware of the context in which Pizzi thrives, I highly doubt that they are going to be willing to offer the kind of money that Benfica would be willing to accept for such a crucial player.

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  • Guest - Andre/UK

    Yeah there are clearly going to be a few important players leaving the club this summer, like every summer. It's very disappointing to see, but it is what it is, what can be done about it? There's just no money in our Liga and as soon as top players get really noticed by the rich clubs (I prefer to use the term "rich" rather than "elite", since when were Man City, for e.g, an elite club?), they get sold off. But on the other hand I'm not too worried either, the same happens every year yet Benfica have been absolutely dominating Portuguese football in recent years, winning 9 of the last 12 domestic trophies on offer (11 if you count the Super Taca as a real trophy, I don't!) and haven't finished outside the top 2 this whole decade. We lose top players every year but replace them with others, and furthermore have a lot of stability within the structure of the club and an excellent youth academy that continues producing top young talent. In short, the club is in a very strong position at this moment in time.

    In terms of the players mentioned: Ederson is almost gone already it seems, he's a very good young keeper but with the transfer fee being mentioned in the press that would be a very good deal for the club as he only played less than a season and a half for us. I expect Lindelof will be the next to depart, and while I have been hopeful that the club could hold on to Semedo for another season, he will probably go too. I just hope the club get the maximum fees for both players and don't let either leave on the cheap. Hopefully if those 3 are sold, that'll be it for major sales this summer. It's absolutely fundamental that Pizzi doesn't get sold. He was the most important player for us this last season and without any doubt the player of the year in Portugal. He simply must be kept. I don't see Rafa Silva getting sold, as no club is likely going to offer more than what we paid for him. He had a difficult first season, but don't forget he was injured for much of the first half of the season. I think next season we're gonna see the real Rafa come alive and he could turn out to be a very important player for us. We just need to replace the departing players well and have some more options for central midfield (which was a little light this last season) and we'll be looking in good shape for next season.

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  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Can someone explain to me how Benfica is in a 400M hole? This is fascinating to a neutral.

    They funding the Russian Space Program or something? The hell?

    from Burlington, ON, Canada
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