After 7 years of service Óscar “Tacuara” Cardozo has left Benfica and moved on to Turkish side Trabonzaspor. The 31 year old Paraguayan striker leaves Benfica for approximately €5M + €1.65M depending on performance related bonuses. Cardozo played 293 official games for Benfica and scored 172 goals. He is in the Benfica history books as Benfica’s 9th best goal scorer of all time.
Cardozo was the top goal scorer in Portugal throughout the 2009/10 season and also in 2011/12. Although he was often criticized for being a slow forward who would not come back to help out his fellow team mates, Cardozo did his job as a true striker and that was score goals.
Cardozo arrived at the Luz in June 2007 transferring from Argentina side Newell’s Old Boys in for a fee of approximately €9.1M. At the time Cardozo had just been named 2006 Paraguayan Footballer Of The Year netting 11 goals in 16 matches for the Newell’s Old Boys.
Over the years Cardozo paired up with several Benfica forwards such as Javier Saviola, Nuno Gomes, Pedro Mantorras, and most recently Lima and Rodrigo. His greatest success on the team was contributing to the 2009/10 winning season and last season’s Benfica Domestic Treble the first ever in Portugal. Although, Cardozo spent most of the season hurt or on the bench he still contributed 7 goals in 15 league appeareances.
There is no doubt that Cardozo will always have a place in the hearts of the Benfica Nation. We all have moments which stand out more then others. Personally, I really enjoyed Cardozo’s hat trick against Sporting at The Alvalade in December of 2010. His triumphant brace in the 2nd leg of the UEFA Europa League Semi – Finals resulting in a 3-1 victory over Fenerbahçe.
Cardozo at 31 still has a lot to offer in his career the reality is that he no longer fit in JJ’s plans at Benfica. Regardless if it’s Turkey, Italy, lower table EPL he always seems to take the ball and find its way into the net. Players grow older and their career continues on elsewhere this is the way of the Footy world. Unless you’re Ryan Giggs very rarely does a player have such longevity at a club. In Cardozo’s case, Benfica is moving on without Cardozo and many others for a fresh start to the 2014/15 season.
It was just over one year ago in which we were anticipating the departure of Cardozo. How dare he lay his hands on coach Jorge Jesus during the Portuguese Cup Final losing to Vitoria De Guimaraes. Benfica had just lost 3 potential titles and Cardozo’s emotions had gotten the best of him as he shoved JJ.
Cardozo like Ronaldo and most other modern day footballer’s are very passionate about winning. He wears his heart on his sleeve and there is no doubt that he loved being a Benfica player. Coming that close and losing 3 titles within such a small amount of time must stir up many unwanted feelings and emotions with anyone. Sadness, feeling worthless, frustration, and looking back it’s surprising that more Benfica players did not freak out the way Cardozo did and attempt to punch JJ right in the face. Peeling away the layers that is Cardozo the athlete, there is still a human being who is allowed to be emotional. A player should never touch a coach but who didn’t want to strangle JJ that week?
Benfica currently have options on the bench to replace Cardozo. Last season he was pretty much replaced by the dynamic duo of Lima and Rodrigo who netted a combined 35 goals. This season there will be no different as there will be solutions to Cardozo’s departure.
Personally, I feel Lima will continue to have a successful season at Benfica keeping up his average of 14+ goals this season. There is no need for JJ to call on for a new striker because there are other options. I for one am quite excited about the return and possible emergence of Nélson Oliveira. Oliveira has often put his foot in his mouth alongside his father who have been notorious for criticizing JJ in the past for not playing Portuguese players. As long as Oliveira is patient and is given an opportunity but keeps his mouth shut in the meantime there is no doubt that he can ease the mind of all of the doubters and will get minutes at Benfica. Other options include Derley (ex- Maritimo, 16 league goals) and Kevin Friesenbichler (ex Bayern Munich B)