Wednesday, 12 Jun 2024

Talent Factory: How Benfica Develops World-Class Players

It’s no secret that the English Premier League is currently Europe’s top division. With its financial power and top-notch coaches, the league has attracted some of the best talent in the world. However, Premier League clubs don’t rely solely on their own resources to find talent. They have extensive scouting networks across the globe, searching for young prospects who can be nurtured into future stars. And one of the places that consistently produces exceptional players is Benfica, a club in the Liga Primera in Portugal.

Benfica has developed and sold numerous high-profile players who have gone on to become world-class. From center-backs to star strikers, the club has earned a reputation as a talent factory. So, what makes the Benfica model so successful? In this article, we will explore the key factors behind Benfica’s ability to nurture and develop top-tier players.

Which Players Have Come Through the Benfica Ranks?

Benfica has a long list of players who have honed their skills at the club before moving on to even bigger clubs across Europe. Let’s take a look at some of the best players who have played for Benfica in recent years:

Bernardo Silva

Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva, a product of the Benfica academy, has become a key player for Manchester City. Known for his dribbling skills, attacking vision, and smart finishing, Silva has made a significant impact at the club, registering 56 goals and 60 assists in 312 appearances.

Bernardo Silva

Ruben Dias

Ruben Dias, a strong and technically proficient young center-back, joined Manchester City in the summer of 2020. Since then, the Portuguese international has played a crucial role in consolidating Manchester City’s dominance. Dias’ transfer from Benfica to the Premier League earned the club a rumored fee of around €70m.

Ruben Dias

Joao Felix

Joao Felix, who emerged from the Benfica academy, is another player who commanded a huge transfer fee. The young Portuguese forward made a name for himself during the 2018/19 season before Atletico Madrid paid a staggering €126 million to secure his services.

Joao Cancelo

Joao Cancelo, a tactically intelligent player with excellent technical ability, is another star product of the Benfica academy. After leaving the club, he commanded substantial transfer fees, eventually becoming the most expensive right-back ever when he joined Manchester City for a deal worth around €60m.


Ederson, the Brazilian goalkeeper, is another notable talent developed by Benfica. After impressing at the club, he made a move to Manchester City in a deal worth €40m.

Enzo Fernandez

Enzo Fernandez, an Argentina midfielder, played a vital role in his nation’s 2022 World Cup victory. Chelsea paid a staggering €121m to secure his services, making him the second-most lucrative sale in Benfica history.

How Does Benfica’s Academy Become So Profitable?

In 2022, the CIES Football Observatory ranked Benfica’s academy as the most profitable in the world. Since 2015, the club has generated €379m in sales of former academy players, surpassing even Real Madrid, one of Europe’s biggest clubs.

So how does Benfica develop so many talented players despite operating with a smaller budget compared to clubs like Real Madrid or Barcelona? Several factors contribute to their success:

Academy Structure

Benfica’s academy operation is vast, with five talent centers spread across Portugal. This extensive network allows the club to tap into talent from various regions of the country, ensuring they identify the best rising stars early on. With around 500 players and 115 coaches, Benfica provides ample time and individual attention to develop young players’ skills.

First Team Opportunities

Benfica recognizes the importance of giving talented youngsters regular first-team football. The club has a clear pathway for academy graduates, aided by a strong reserve league where promising players gain valuable experience alongside Benfica B. Each year, Benfica aims to promote two academy graduates to the first team, allowing them to fully develop their abilities.

Darwin Nunez

Coaching Methods

Benfica’s academy focuses on coaching players in a modern style that prioritizes technical proficiency. The club’s staff is highly skilled at adapting to each player’s needs and emphasizes positive play, numerical overloads, close connections between players, and smart passing. The club predominantly uses a 4-3-3 formation across all age groups, facilitating a smooth transition into the first team.

Modern Technology

Benfica’s state-of-the-art facilities provide players with the latest technology to enhance their development. The Caixa Futebol Campus near Lisbon and the residential facility at Seixal offer advanced training equipment, including a unique 360S simulator where players practice technical skills in simulated match environments.

Financial Constraints

Operating under financial constraints, Benfica relies heavily on their youth system. Unlike clubs in the Premier League or La Liga, they don’t have access to the same commercial revenue or sponsorship money. Developing and selling players has been a highly successful strategy, allowing them to generate substantial income. Additionally, focusing on their youth system reduces the need for expensive signings from other clubs.

Who Are the Next Benfica Talents?

Several players in Benfica’s current squad have caught the attention of teams in Europe’s top leagues. Striker Goncalo Ramos stands out as a potential target, having stepped into the shoes of Darwin Nunez following his transfer to Liverpool. Ramos showcased his talent at the World Cup, becoming the youngest player to score a hat trick since 1962. Other players to watch include defensive midfielder Florentino Luis and center-back Antonio Silva.

By continually producing top-quality talents, Benfica ensures their success extends far beyond the current generation of players. While they may not hold onto their players for long, the revenue generated from their youth development system lays the foundation for sustained success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many talented players have come through the Benfica ranks?

A: Benfica has produced numerous talented players, including Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias, Joao Felix, Joao Cancelo, Ederson, and Enzo Fernandez.

Q: What factors contribute to the profitability of Benfica’s academy?

A: Benfica’s profitability stems from factors such as their academy structure, providing first-team opportunities, utilizing effective coaching methods, employing modern technology, and operating under financial constraints.

Q: Who are the next potential talents from Benfica?

A: Striker Goncalo Ramos, defensive midfielder Florentino Luis, and center-back Antonio Silva are among the players in Benfica’s squad who have the potential to make a big impact in the future.


Benfica’s success in developing world-class players can be attributed to their well-structured academy, commitment to providing first-team opportunities, effective coaching methods, integration of modern technology, and financial constraints that necessitate a focus on youth development. By consistently producing top talents, Benfica ensures a bright future for the club and continues to generate significant revenue through player sales. As the football world eagerly watches for the next rising stars from Benfica, the club’s reputation as a talent factory remains unmatched.

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