Some of the best players now plying their trade at European superclubs once had a spell 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.
Darwin Nunez could be the next in line for a big move, as the 22-year-old striker is wanted by top clubs all over Europe after scoring 24 league goals this season.
We’ve compiled a bloody impressive team of players sold by Benfica since 2010, organised in a 4-3-3 formation.
GK: 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 260 La Liga games, he’s conceded just 184 goals and kept 132 clean sheets. That, frankly, is absolutely f*cking mental. He’s blessed with a sturdy defence in front of him, but he’s established himself as one of the best keepers of his generation.
Despite some poor performances this campaign leading to some criticism, Oblak still remains up there with the world’s best.
🧤 Jan Oblak with a sensational save, on this day in 2018! #OTD | #UEL pic.twitter.com/6pLHGgXcoh
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) April 12, 2022
RB: Nelson Semedo
The right-back, a Lisbon native, joined Barcelona for around €30.5million in 2017.
After an initial bright start, cracks started to appear in his defensive ability, and was utterly torn to shreds in Barcelona’s disastrous 8-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.
A move to Wolves followed, where he has fared pretty well, but probably never truly recovered from the mauling he received from Alphonso Davies.
CB: Ruben Dias
The Portugal centre-back has been imperious since moving to Manchester City in 2020 for around £61million, winning two Premier League titles and instantly becoming one of the best defenders in the league.
The 24-year-old’s impact on what was already a ridiculously strong team was recognised as he won the Premier League Player of the Season award, and he continues to impress in the heart of the City defence.
“He is a guy that can play every three days. He recovers immediately and his ability is incredible, as is his understanding of the game,” Pep Guardiola stated in January 2021.
“He wants to learn and all of us were impressed how he takes care of his body and mind, every day. We were surprised a lot.
“I can assure you that we signed one incredible player for the next five, six, seven years. That is not easy to find.”
CB: David Luiz
The 34-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.
Luiz made a shock move to Arsenal in 2019, and despite some defensive calamities, he spent two seasons in North London where he was outstanding as the Gunners won the FA Cup.
His reputation as a defensive liability was fair at times, but harsh overall, as he became one of the best ball-playing defenders in the world for a number of years, and his strong leadership ability means he’s remembered fondly everywhere.
LB: Joao Cancelo
One of many Benfica players to end up at Manchester City, Cancelo took a weird route, initially leaving Benfica for Valencia in 2014 on loan, where he wasn’t all too highly rated.
A move to Juventus followed a loan to Inter Milan, where he often played as a left-back, before joining City in a swap deal for Danilo.
At City, he has played on both flanks and has rapidly become one of the best defenders in the world. His supreme technique means that he often tucks into midfield, and is now an integral cog in the City machine.
🎯 | How about that for a pass from João Cancelo?
— Próxima Jornada (@ProximaJornada1) April 10, 2022
CM: Axel Witsel
The Belgian international was coveted by a lot of clubs across Europe, but ended up spending five years at Zenit Saint Petersburg before moving to Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian during the 2017-18 campaign.
The powerhouse midfielder then moved to Borussia Dortmund, where even at the age of 33, he provides steel and intelligence in the middle of the park.
DM: Nemanja Matic
Matic had two spells at Benfica between two spells at Chelsea, but when the Serbian moved to Stamford Bridge for the second time, he became one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe.
Playing an integral role in two Premier League titles in west London, Matic then reunited with former boss Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
Now 33, Matic does not have the legs to play like he did in his prime, but when called upon he is still one of United’s better midfield options.
“Nemanja is a Manchester United player and a Jose Mourinho player. He represents everything we want in a footballer; loyalty, consistency, ambition, team player,” Mourinho stated after bringing him to Old Trafford.
CM: 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.
After playing a starring role as Monaco won Ligue 1 and reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2017 Manchester City paid around £44million for the attacking midfielder.
The 27-year-old has developed into one of the world’s best midfielders under Guardiola and is a regular starter for both club and country.
He’s a joy to watch.
Everything about this Bernardo Silva goal is magnificent 🔥pic.twitter.com/OlYriEDPoS
— GOAL (@goal) December 2, 2021
RW: 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 and Lionel Messi.
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.
He will be remembered as one of the best creative talents of his generation.
LW: Goncalo Guedes
Another Benfica academy product, the Portugal international 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.
After failing to make an impact at PSG, it is at the Mestalla Stadium where he has found his home. Despite Valencia’s struggles in recent years, he scored the winner to take them to the 2022 Copa Del Rey final, and is a fan favourite at the club.
ST: Joao Felix
One of football’s most exciting young talents, Joao Felix had a stunning breakthrough season at Benfica, with 20 goals and 11 assists as a teenager, helping them reach the Europa League quarter-finals.
A £120million move to Atletico Madrid followed, as a direct replacement for Antoine Griezmann. Whilst he is yet to fulfil his potential as an attacker in such a defence-minded side, the 22-year-old has a big future ahead of him. The sky is the limit.
More from Planet Football
An ode to Angel Di Maria at Real & the best assist you’ve never seen
Darwin Nunez only needed one shot to show he’s Cavani’s Man Utd heir
Six clubs who’ve made the most transfer market profit since 2010
Barcelona’s 10 most expensive sales and how they fared after leaving