Many clubs around Europe have to deal with their squads being decimated by richer clubs, for many it’s their one way to survive for Benfica fans seeing a young talent poached by richer clubs before their time has become part and parcel of any transfer window even if it hasn’t halted their success.
Whilst the likes of West Ham United and Southampton struggle to break their glass ceiling due to it, the Lisbon giants only continue to win league titles and threaten to end the curse of Bela Guttman even without some of the superstar players listed below.
The 2009-10 Benfica team alone had two players that would later win the UEFA Champions League and in David Luiz a player that would win three league titles in two different countries whilst the 2014 domestic treble winners surrendered future English, French and Russian league title winners and a goalkeeper that has set unprecedented defensive records in Spain.
With both Ederson and Victor Lindelof on their way to Manchester, the 2017 Benfica champions maybe facing another break up of talents but try stopping them making a success out of it anyway.
GK: Jan Oblak
The Slovenian played 25 times as Benfica secured the domestic treble in 2014, enough to secure a move to then La Liga Champions Atletico Madrid for €16m - the highest fee paid for a La Liga goalkeeper. With Madrid, Oblak has proved to be one of the world’s best goalkeepers, conceding a record low 18 goals in 2016 and helping Atleti to their second UEFA Champions League final where they lost on penalties to rivals Real Madrid. Image Source: Twitter
RB: Joao Cancelo
The young right-back played only two games for the Benfica first team before a €15m move to Valencia where he’s progressing as one of the top young fullbacks in Europe. For the Portuguese national side he has an unprecedented three goals in five caps despite being deployed as a full back.
Image Source: Twitter
CB: David Luiz
A Premier League winner with Chelsea this season, the Brazilian centre-back won Primeira Lisa Player of the Year in 2010 as he led the Lisbon side to the league and cup double before leaving for Chelsea in January 2011. With the Blues he captured the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in consecutive seasons, defeating his former club in the final of the latter tournament. After a brief spell with PSG, Luis returned to Chelsea in summer 2016 and won his first Premier League title in 2017 as a vital part of Antonio Conte’s back three. Image Source: Twitter
CB: Ezequiel Garay
Having joined from Real Madrid, the Argentine centre-back was part of the domestic treble winning squad in Lisbon in 2014 and part of the team that lost consecutive UEFA Europa League finals. Since leaving for Zenit St. Petersburg in 2014, Garay has been to the FIFA World Cup final in 2014 and been a runner-up in the Copa America final in 2015 as well as winning the Russian Premier League in 2015.
Image Source: Twitter
LB: Fabio Coentrão
The €30m defender may have struggled with fitness which have limited his Real Madrid appearances but he’s still been a vital squad player in two of Los Blancos’ three UEFA Champions League triumphs and even made UEFA Euro 2012 Team of the Tournament. Image Source: Twitter
CM: Nemanja Matic
The Serbian midfielder was sold to Benfica from Chelsea in 2011 as part of the deal for David Luiz but after scoring some stunning goals despite being converted to a defensive midfielder and winning the Premeira Liga in 2014, Jose Mourinho brought Matic back to the Blues where he’s been a vital cog in both Mourinho and Conte’s midfields for Chelsea’s league titles in 2015 and 2017. Image Source: Twitter
CM: Axel Witsel
Belgian Young Player of the Year in 2008, Wiesel played one season in Portugal with Benfica winning the Taça de Liga and was named in O Jogo Team of the Year before moving to Zenit. In Russia he’s won the Russian Premier League in 2015 and Russian Cup in 2016, whilst also being a key figure for the Belgian national team. Image Source: Twitter
Having started at Benfica, Maniche was sold to FC Porto in 2002 and as part of Jose Mourinho’s squad found the best years of his career. With Benfica’s rivals he won two Primeira Liga’s as well as the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League. He also was a runner-up in UEFA Euro 2004 with Portugal being named in the Team of the Tournament as well as the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team two years later. Image Source: Twitter
RW: Bernardo Silva
Bernardo Silva has just come off one of the best seasons of his career as an integral part of AS Monaco’s stunning attack that led them to the Ligue 1 for the first time since 2000 and the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2004. Having only played a handful of games in Benfica’s Premeira Liga win in 2014, the youngster left for Monaco and has only gotten better since for them and the Portuguese Under 21s. He’ll be plying his trade for Manchester City next season after City signed him for £43.5m this summer. Image Source: Twitter
LW: Angel Di Maria
Di Maria made his mark in Europe with Benfica before a €25m move to Real Madrid in 2010 having just won the league and cup double. The Argentine was a key part of Madrid’s la decima success, being named Man of the Match in the 2014 UEFA Champions League final which secured a British transfer record move to Manchester United. His time in England was largely unsuccessful and he signed for PSG in 2015, where he was top assist provider in Ligue 1 in his first season as they secured the domestic treble. Image Source: Twitter
The Spaniard joined Benfica in 2011 in the hopes of revitalising his career, having spent most of his FC Barcelona days in the B-team. He spent only two seasons in Portugal before returning to Spain but won the only major honour of his career in that time, the Taca de Liga in 2012 after scoring 15 goals in his debut season. After finding goalascoring form with Celta Vigo, he was one of Pep Guardiola’s first Manchester City signings but has been largely disappointing in the North West and will presumably be returning to Spain this summer. Image Source: Twitter
It’s too early to say whether the likes of Renato Sanches, Lindelof and Ederson will be as successful as some of the players on this list, all have youth on their side of making a success of their careers outside of Lisbon, one thing’s for sure, Benfica’s ability to find young talent and flip them for a healthy profit goes nearly unmatched in world football.