BENFICA’S business model of buy low, sell high has delivered domestic success but the £600million-plus worth of talent leaving the club could have deprived them of greater glory.
A stunning array of star players have passed through the Lisbon club’s doors over the past decade, showcasing their eye for a gem.
An impressive XI can be constructed from former Benfica men – with plenty left spare.
The 2019 summer deal for Joao Felix, with Atletico Madrid paying Benfica £115m, remains their biggest sale but a mega 15 players left for between £20m and £35m in the past decade.
Then comes the British transfer record fee of £107m paid by Chelsea on deadline day in January 2023 to trigger Enzo Fernandez’s release clause after a long drawn-out saga.
The loss of Darwin Nunez back in June 2022 comes in as the next most expensive exit, as Liverpool could end up forking out up to £85m for the striker.
Jurgen Klopp’s side paid £64m up front for his services, but they could be required to stump up the extra £21m in future to meet projected value.
Manchester City’s defensive stalwart Ruben Dias is next after arriving in a £64m deal to shatter David Luiz’s £22m effort.
His team-mate goalkeeper Ederson follows with a defence of Nelson Semedo, Victor Lindelof and Fabio Coentrao banking Benfica £87m combined.
A pairing of Axel Witsel and Renato Sanches join Fernandez in central midfielders with all three sold early on in their careers for huge profits.
And with £30m Angel Di Maria joining Felix and Nunez in attack and completing the £587m starting XI, there isn’t even space for £27m Goncalo Guedes or Nemanja Matic.
The Serb bruiser left for Chelsea in 2014 for a ‘measly’ £21m, meaning he misses the cut for this line-up along with £13m playmaker Bernardo Silva.
The exit fees for Lazar Markovic, Nico Gaitan and Enzo Perez also exceeded £20m – and yet aren’t enough for our XI.
Nuno Tavares swapped Benfica for Arsenal in the summer of 2021 but fails to make our XI as his bargain £7m fee is no match for the £27m banked when Coentrao joined Real Madrid back in 2011.
Up front, Felix partners Nunez to oust Wolves’ £30million buy Raul Jimenez.
Had all these players stayed, it isn’t hard to imagine Benfica reaching the latter stages of the Champions League and even threatening to win the competition.
Add in the likes of Jan Oblak, Joao Cancelo and Luka Jovic and suddenly the team looks nigh-on imperious.
Sure enough, the Portuguese giants do have two European Cups to their name but a decade that saw them reach just two Champions League quarter-finals and lose a pair of Europa League finals could have been very different.