With one of the summer's major transfer sagas finally over after João Félix completed his big-money move to Altetico Madrid, Portuguese champions Benfica can now prepare for the new campaign with clarity after the departure of their young star.
Raúl De Tomás, Chiquinho, Jhonder Cádiz and Caio have all joined the Eagles ranks ahead of the new campaign, and PortuGOAL takes a closer look at the arrivals and assesses the impact of this summer's business on Bruno Lage's side.
The inevitable has occurred, João Félix has left Lisbon in search of a new adventure, choosing the Rojiblanco of Atlético de Madrid as his new home. The João Félix debate has dominated the entirety of the window so far, bringing with it a multitude of linked clubs and of course the question marks over his price and whether the deal represents good value for a potential suitor.
However, now the deal is done we can opt to deal in facts and not speculation. Benfiquistas, as frustrated as they may initially be over the transfer, have received somewhere in the sum of €126 million for a wonderfully talented but inexperienced player. The 19-year-old has just 26 Primeira Liga appearances to his name, but his contribution during the 2018/19 season, scoring 15 and assisting 9, was enough to convince Los Colchoneros that he is the right man to lead Atléti into the new decade and beyond.
For Benfica, €126 million is a huge sum of money to receive, especially for a Primeira Liga outfit and it is important to remember that while the loss of Félix is disappointing, it is not devastating. Lage is currently in the process of building an outstanding young squad, with numerous players committing their long-term futures to the club with new deals. The efficiency of the Seixal conveyor belt, means that the next talent to emerge is never far away.
What Benfica have to do now is look to the players they possess and continue to negotiate well in the transfer market in preparation for the coming campaign. Big changes in any transfer window inevitably leads to quesiton marks, and only time will tell if the Portuguese champions made the right decisions regarding the sale of Félix and their incoming transfers. This is also true when you play idn poker. You can experience turbulence along the way.
The confirmed signings
I will begin with the arrival of Raúl De Tomás, the transfer with the biggest outlay and also the transfer I am most excited about. In Raúl De Tomás, Benfica are receiving an incredibly talented forward with a real striker’s instinct. He has great positional awareness and uses this to exploit space within the box. Last season in La Liga, De Tomás was loaned from parent club Real Madrid to strugglers Rayo Vallecano, in the end Vallecano finished rock bottom and his goals were not enough, however the performances of De Tomas captivated the Vallecano supporters. In 33 La Liga appearances, he scored 14 goals and assisted 1, impressive numbers given the calibre of player he was playing with and the fact that for most games, Vallecano went in as the lesser side.
At Benfica, Raúl has the chance to play with better quality team mates who will be looking forward to feeding him. As Benfica tend to dominate Primeira Liga matches, chances will be plentiful, as opposed to his time at Vallecano. If he can adjust quickly to the change in league, which I don’t think will be an issue, is patient for his chances and gels with his new team mates, I think his career at Benfica can be long and fruitful. €20 million is a lot, especially for a Portuguese side, but in 2019 the deal represents good value for Benfica when you consider the significant contributions he made, in one of the best leagues in the world.
In Chiquinho, Benfica have acquired a talent that is still just 23 and gives them another option in the attacking midfield department. 8 goals and 7 assists from his position for Moreirense in 2018/19 campaign show that he has end product for all of his technical talent. At 1.74m (5”7’) he has a fairly low centre of gravity that allows him to swiftly manoeuvre with the ball, it will be interesting to see the first team chances he gets at Benfica. At times he will have to remain patient, but he is undoubtedly talented and at just a reported €3.75 million it seems like a great bit of business.
Jhonder Cádiz has also been confirmed by Benfica, another striker to give the attacking department that extra bit of depth. He, like Chiquinho, is still just 23 years old and knows the league well, featuring 83 times in the Primeira Liga so far in his career. He scored 9 goals and assisted 1 in 31 games for Vitória Setúbal. Not a bad return but also not clinical. At Benfica when he plays, he will get more opportunities to score given that Benfica dominate matches. Whether he will excel or not is hard to tell, so for now my judgement on Cádiz is reserved. If the young Venezuelan can take his chances, contribute with goals and assists and fit into Lage’s system, he may well be an effective squad player in Benfica’s pursuit of numerous competitions.
Lastly, Caio was also confirmed recently by Benfica. The Brazilian winger has arrived on a free from UAE club Al-Ain. Caio is a winger with pace and quick feet, at 25 years of age his career has saw him play in the UAE and also in Japan. This Is the first time the Brazilian will have played in Europe. During his time at Al-Ain he has accumulated 23 goals and a whopping 31 assists in just 63 league games. Benfica and the Primeira Liga will pose a bigger challenge for Caio, playing against higher quality opponents. However, he is now at a great club with terrific facilities, playing in a country that speaks the same language as him and on a free transfer the deal represents little risk.
Benfica’s new signings, coupled with the ongoing extension of first-team contracts will ensure that Benfica have a squad that is more than capable of competing on all fronts next season. Lage’s aim will be to continue being smart in the market, making use of both low-value transfers and will also continue to integrate the Benfica youngsters that he knows so well, to the first team.
By Aaron Barton