As you scan through the names of the fishing boats anchored in the port of Seixal, instead of reading “Maria Rita” or “O Rei dos Polvos” you will read such names as Liverpool FC, Zenit St Petersburg, Valencia and Atletico Madrid. Europe’s richest clubs have come to this not so secret hot spot yet again, in search of that prize catch to bring back to their fans in England, Spain or Russia. At this time last year, Luis Fillipe Vieira refused to let these boats into the port insisting on keeping his squad intact for the upcoming season, outside of some minor changes. This year it seems that Vieira will be more keen to do business, as he realizes that in football’s current state, Benfica will only be able to keep the scales in balance, by playing as a feeder club of sorts for Europe’s richer clubs.
The media in Portugal have taken the bait on the news of this apparent feeding frenzy in Seixal, and have made fisherman’s tales of the smallest connection or name drop, which is the norm. Aside from selling papers and getting website hits, these stories (some MUST be true, I know) have cast a dark cloud of uncertainty over the heads of Benfiquistas world wide.
If the cloud of uncertainty I speak of is a metaphor, the actual feeling of uncertainty around the Caixa Futebol Campus is a reality. There are a LOT of players still officially on Benfica’s books, even Andre Gomes & Rodrigo who were sold to a fund owned by Peter Lim (Valencia CF’s new owner)have reported to camp in …. Seixal. There are so many players currently going through their paces at the Caixa Futebol Campus, that the running joke is that there are not enough locker room stalls for all of them. This joke has put a lighter spin on the main worry of all Benfiquistas, – Who will be part of the crew that Jorge Jesus chooses to steer his ship to the 34th league title in our history, and maybe if we dare to be ambitious enough perhaps some more European success?
If all of the headlines in the papers of player exits become true, only two of Jesus’ favored eleven will be part of the squad in the opening match of the 14/15 season vs Rio Ave(Supercup). Oblak to Atletico for 20M. Maxi says he will talk about his future when he returns to Portugal. Enzo going to Valencia for 25M (more on this later) Simeone very interested in Gaitan. Markovic to Liverpool for 25M. Rodrigo to Peter Lim’s Valencia…… That leaves behind our iconic Captain, who according to the press was destined to leave almost every summer up until recently, and Lima who due to his age and lack of media hype has had very little stories written about him.
Unfortunately these headlines are not only affecting us fans, but the players also. Last week a video of the newly elected Best Player of the Liga Zon Sagres and Benfica fan favorite Enzo Perez went viral. In this video, a Portuguese reporter asked Enzo what he thought of Portugal, referring to the Selecao’s recent elimination, which Enzo angrily responded “MIERDA”. Yesterday, after Argentina’s match vs Belgium, (where Enzo finally made his debut, replacing the injured Di Maria) Enzo cleared the air in an interview with RTP, where he advised that his angry outburst was in reaction to reports coming out of the Portuguese press that he is forcing a move to Valencia, with whom he says he has had no contact with. He went on to say he was very happy in Portugal and would like to continue at Benfica.
Amidst all this uncertainty one thing is for sure, the squad will only be officially closed in September, and the man who needs to be most concerned about what the final roster, is currently enjoying a glass of red wine in a secret tasca in Amadora with a sheet of paper in front of him that looks like this.
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