Benfica right-back swaps Luz for Camp Nou
Barcelona yesterday announced that Nélson Semedo would be having a medical today (Friday) at the Catalan club ahead of signing for the La Liga giants from Portuguese champions Benfica.
Full details of the transfer were not released, but Semedo is expected to put pen to paper on a 5-year contract for a fee of €30 million plus a series of add-ons that potentially takes the final value of the deal close to €50m.
The departure of the Portugal right-back from Lisbon continues a trend akin to a mass exodus of top talent from the Primeira Liga. Benfica teammates Ederson and Victor Lindelöf were sold earlier this summer, Seleção No. 9 André Silva left Porto for Milan and Sporting are widely expected to sell at least two of Adrien Silva, William Carvalho and Gelson Martins.
In May, Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira dropped a heavy hint that the Eagles would be focusing on earning revenue from player sales in the close season, and it has come to pass. The first-choice goalkeeper, right-back and centre-back have been sold for huge fees, while rumours suggesting Spanish left-back Alex Grimaldo may be leaving rumble on.
In contrast, no significant signings have been made, although speculation in the press this morning suggests Benfica are trying to obtain a loan deal to bring Renato Sanches back to the Portuguese capital after his unhappy first year at Bayern Munich.
Semedo's departure is no surprise given his superb season that culminated with a place in the Portugal squad for the recent Confederations Cup tournament. The 23-year-old made an immediate impact when handed his opportunity in the senior team at the start of the 2015/16 season following the controversial 'defection' of Maxi Pereira to Porto.
Truth be told, Maxi, who was a firm fans' favourite after almost a decade of excellent service given to Benfica, was not missed as Semedo quickly proved himself up to the task of filling the Uruguayan's shoes, especially impressing when surging forward to contribute to the team's attacking game plan.
A serious knee injury suffered when making his Portugal debut against Serbia cut short his debut season, but it did not check his development and the next campaign Semedo was arguably, along with midfielder Pizzi, Benfica's most impressive performer, helping the club win a fourth successive Primeira Liga title and shining in the Champions League.
Year zero for Seleção stars
Semedo is one of a string of Portugal players who have changed clubs this off-season. As well as the aforementioned André Silva, namesake Bernardo Silva moved to Manchester City in the EPL after his magnificent showings for Monaco. Barring injury, all three players are expected to play a role for the European Champions at next year's World Cup in Russia.
Also harbouring hopes of making the squad will be Bruno Fernandes, the U21 captain having moved to Sporting from Sampdoria, while young centre-backs Rúben Semedo and Edgar Ié, who moved to Villarreal in Spain and Lille in France respectively, are outside bets to push their way into Fernando Santos's thoughts.
With one, two or all three of the trio of Sporting players Adrien, William and Gelson possibly on the move, who are all established squad members for the Seleção, and centre-back Pepe also having swapped clubs, moving from Real Madrid to Besiktas, the way this raft of players settle at their new clubs will surely be key to Portugal's chances of success in Russia.
by Tom Kundert