Benfica Campus: Inside one of the world’s greatest football talent factories

Above the yrs, the club’s academy — acknowledged as the Benfica Campus — has nurtured various stars that have long gone on to command higher transfer costs from Europe’s largest clubs Ederson, Renato Sanches, Gonçalo Guedes, Félix and Dias to name just a handful of.
Rodrigo Magalhães is the complex coordinator for the Campus and has been doing work in youth improvement at the club considering the fact that 2005. He tells CNN Activity that Benfica’s concentrate on creating its youth stars as human beings before footballers is vital to its achievement.

About 95 players live at the academy at any 1 time, and when they transition from the under-18s to the less than-19s, players transfer out into their have properties or residences in the town.

“In our feeling, it was the age that they commence to have their individual life,” Magalhães suggests to CNN. “Some of them have girlfriends, some of them stay two or a few in an apartment. So they start out a existence outdoors the academy as we need to prepare them to stay their life mainly because we know that a compact proportion of players will attain the purpose to enjoy in the 1st workforce or in the primary leagues in Europe.

“After people ages, beneath-19 and beneath-23, normally all of our gamers who progress [from the academy] can engage in in very first divisions and next divisions right here in Portugal or in other international locations, but we require to put together them if soccer fails.

“The to start with objective was to build them like human beings and we want to put together them with a robust academic development much too.”

Rúben Dias is one of a number of top class players to have graduated from Benfica's academy.

European champions

Previous time, Benfica’s Campus crew at last gained the most coveted prize in youth club soccer: the UEFA Youth League. Launched in 2013, it truly is a match contested by all the youth teams of the golf equipment enjoying in that season’s Champions League.

Immediately after getting rid of in all 3 of its prior final appearances, Benfica eventually received its arms on the trophy with an eye-catching 6- win over RB Salzburg, a outcome that drew admiring glances from lots of of Europe’s most significant clubs.

“Everyone is so proud of that instant because it was a procedure that did not get started that time,” Magalhães suggests. “Tons of these gamers begun with us when they had been 6 years previous, many others 10 yrs previous, 11 many years aged.

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“We will need to appear to all the men and women that function with them — coaches, assistant coaches, teachers, social department, scouting department — absolutely everyone right here has a special aspect in that instant.”

Magalhães claims about 90% of the squad that gained the UEFA Youth League started playing at the Campus concerning the age groups of less than-6s and below-12s.

While Benfica has its primary foundation in Lisbon, it also boasts five instruction centers all over Portugal, which allow for the club to scout and then nurture the greatest expertise from throughout the place.

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In the squad for the semifinals and finals, Magalhães states there were being players from all their instruction centers — in the north, south and centre of Portugal — a feat he is extremely proud of as it is evidence the undertaking Benfica entrusted him with is bearing fruit.

But even if they hadn’t received the trophy previous year, Magalhães would continue to have considered the team’s participation as a results. In the 8 seasons considering the fact that the Youth League’s inception — the 2020-21 year was canceled owing to the Covid pandemic — Benfica has achieved 4 finals, a file only two-time winner Chelsea has been equipped to match.

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“Extra than profitable the trophy, it really is the regularity,” Magalhães claims. “If we have been a crew that goes after in 5 yrs to a semifinal or to a closing, okay, it really is fantastic for us. But a group [with Benfica’s record] indicates that definitely we have a team of players that are capable to contend at the maximum stage in comparison with other teams in Europe.

“For us, the regularity is a signal that our perform is heading nicely.”

With Benfica unable to rival Europe’s wealthiest golf equipment — like Manchester City, Genuine Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain — for participant transfers, Magalhães is aware the initial team’s ideal route to results is by nurturing its possess globe-course talent.

Aspiring stars

António Silva is 1 of the existing crop of rising stars in Benfica’s academy and was in the staff for very last season’s victorious UEFA Youth League campaign. The 18-12 months-outdated central defender joined Benfica in 2014 and, presented his placement, by natural means hopes to emulate Dias’ success.

Dias joined Manchester Town from Benfica for close to $75 million in 2020 and straight away cemented his area among the finest defenders in the Leading League. In his two seasons at Town, the 25-12 months-old has played a important function in profitable two Leading League titles and achieving the 2021 Champions League ultimate.

Silva even wears the No. 66 shirt that Dias wore though he was at the club.

António Silva is hoping to follow in Rúben Dias' footsteps.

“I appear up to Rúben a whole lot,” he tells CNN Activity. “He began playing right here and appear at all the factors that he reached at Manchester Metropolis and also in the staff at Benfica. He’s a person to glance up to and it’s significant for me to have my references to achieve the best.

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“Portuguese golf equipment perform a lot with the youth ages, so it is significant for us to have the sort of gamers that attain the major and enjoy in all the leagues, in the prime leagues like the Leading League and La Liga, like Nuno [Mendes] being in PSG.

“For us, it is crucial to have individuals sort of gamers, like idols for us to test to also total this procedure and, if it is probable, do it improved than them.”

Silva describes himself as a modern day middle again, at ease with the ball at his ft and able of playing long balls or passing on your own the ground. As nicely as Dias, Silva draws his inspiration from Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Actual Madrid’s Antonio Rüdiger.

Nonetheless, Silva understands none of the players’ private and team achievements would be attainable devoid of the dedication of the hundreds of staff members that get the job done in Benfica’s bases all-around the region.

“Benfica has a whole lot of individuals who get the job done for us, that give everything to us and this is the most critical point,” he describes. “Benfica Campus is essential, but the individuals who do the job with us? They are additional important.”