Benfica have made over £400m from star player sales

Selling for funds

For Iberian clubs outside of Real Madrid and Barcelona, it has been tremendously difficult to keep hold of top talent.

Atletico Madrid are bucking the trend to some extent, having seen off interest in the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Jan Oblak and Saul Niguez to make an established big three in La Liga, but for others it has proved far more difficult.

With the riches that are on offer in the Premier League and some of Europe’s other top clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus, teams from outside the elite have to accept now more than ever that players won’t stick around for too long.

Whilst it is ultimately disappointing for supporters, the clubs themselves can ultimately benefit from it. With good recruitment and smart investment key at clubs where funds aren’t as infinite as those above them, there are

Sevilla are one team who have certainly benefited from such a model, finding diamonds in the rough and selling them on for a hugely inflated price in the future. They have done so with the likes of Dani Alves, Ivan Rakitic, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Carlos Bacca and Kevin Gameiro, to name but a few.

Atletico meanwhile have had a revolving door of talented strikers at their club, featuring Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan, Falcao, Jackson Martinez and Mario Mandzukic to where they are now with Griezmann and Diego Costa. Diego Simeone’s side have now reached a stature where they can keep hold of their best players and add to them, having worked the model perfectly.

Oblak - Atletico

Benfica sales

However, arguably no club has worked it better than Benfica, who have made a staggering £400m in player sales over recent years.

Many have gone on to have great success, others not so much, but Benfica certainly seems to be an attractive midway destination for players aiming to play for one of the world’s biggest clubs.

The biggest deal came in the summer of 2017, when Manchester City paid £35m to sign goalkeeper Ederson Moraes which, at the time, made him the second-most expensive goalkeeper of all-time behind only the legendary Gianluigi Buffon. The Brazilian has since confirmed his status as one of the top keepers playing in Europe.

Lindelof Bailly Manchester United

Both Axel Witsel and Victor Lindelof joined Zenit St. Petersburg and Manchester United respectively for fees in excess of £30m, with the former now at Borussia Dortmund and the latter beginning to establish himself at the heart of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s defence.

Premier League clubs have had plenty of interest in Benfica’s talent this decade, with Chelsea signing three of their players between 2010-2014. First, they spent £17m on Ramires, before then splashing out £21m on David Luiz. Nemanja Matic then arrived in 2014 for £21m and all three went on to claim Premier League winners’ medals.

However, that’s not to say all Benfica players have had success in making the transition to the Premier League, with Lazar Markovic (£20m) and Javi Garcia (£16m) two players that struggled to make an impact at Liverpool and Manchester City respectively. Markovic in particular, given the stature of his transfer fee, must go down as one of the most underwhelming signings in Premier League history.

Lazar Markovic

Atletico Madrid shot-stopper Jan Oblak went for what now looks an absolute robbery of £12.6m back in 2014, since going on to become one of Europe’s top players between the sticks and Angel di Maria recouped £21m for the Portuguese giants in 2010.

In summary, if clubs are looking to unearth new talent, they could do far worse than eyeing the Benfica squad - but it's definitely going to cost you.

Benfica’s ten record sales

1. Ederson Moraes - £35m

2. Axel Witsel - £32m

3. Victor Lindelof - £30m

4. Renato Sanches - £27.5m

5. Fabio Coentrao - £27m

6. Rodrigo - £26m

7.Goncalo Guedes - £22m

8. David Luiz - £21m

9. Nemanja Matic - £21m

10. Angel Di Maria - £21m

Angel Di Maria PSG
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