‘An inspiration and motivation’: hopes and fears in Benfica’s talent factory | Benfica

17 February 2021 - 4:10 pm

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‘An inspiration and motivation’: hopes and fears in Benfica’s talent factory | Benfica

“It was a dream come undoubted,” Gonçalo Ramos says of his five-minute Benfica debut final season in opposition to Aves. “Solely in my desires would I think about I’d come on and accumulate two objectives.” The route is main the fresh era of gamers from the Portuguese membership’s academy, because the conveyor zone continues to bear talent.

There may be loads of expectation at a membership that turned out João Felix, Rúben Dias, Bernardo Silva and João Cancelo. For the gamers it’s about private ambition however, for Benfica, the academy is a key sever of the industry mannequin, confirmed by the charges earned in current years from gross sales.

“All of the gamers in Benfica’s academy, we have a look at these gamers as an inspiration, a motivation, and as affirmation that we’re in the perfect place to achieve the most important levels in the world,” says the 19-year-old Ramos, sever of the squad that faces Arsenal on Thursday in the primary leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.

Ramos’s journey started venerable 9 at one in every of Benfica’s 5 satellite tv for pc coaching centres in Portugal, nearby his childhood residence in the Algarve, earlier than he moved to Lisbon as an adolescent. He was privately educated by the membership and his on-field evolution noticed him toy each place apart from goalkeeper and right-back.

9 academy graduates are in Jorge Jesus’s first-team squad, Nuno Tavares, a 21-year-old full-back who performed 4 instances in the group stage. As sever of their evolution, children will breathe given a random in the B group, who toy in the second tier, the place Ramos made his skilled debut as a 17-year-old.

Benfica’s under-15 players attend a training session at Benfica’s academy in Seixal.
Benfica’s under-15 gamers attend a coaching session at Benfica’s academy in Seixal. {Photograph}: Patrícia de Melo Moreira/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

“Gonçalo is a striker with noble somatic capacity, with the ability to get to ending zones and accumulate many objectives,” says the Benfica B head coach, Nélson Veríssimo. “He actually has a particular sense to accumulate objectives. He has the attributes to breathe among the best abilities of Portuguese soccer.”

The B group are key to getting gamers prepared for the rigours of the highest flight. “Within the youthful championships – over an gross season – our gamers have solely two to a few video games with a tall point of hardship, however in the second division all video games have this tall point and all video games pose noble challenges for our gamers,” Veríssimo says. He appreciates the consequence of the youth setup, having progressed by it in the Nineties earlier than becoming a member of its teaching employees nearly a decade in the past, together with a spell as first-team caretaker supervisor.

The membership await the most recent crop can succeed amid fears the pandemic may influence the youthful generations. Academy gamers have missed a yr of group coaching and video games, resulting in considerations over the way to compensate when they’re allowed again.

“We felt already a pattern in the hardship of discovering talent with society evolving earlier than Covid; now we really feel it’s going to breathe harder to search out these gamers,” the technical director, Pedro Marques, says. “We simply necessity to focus on drill, wanting plane higher and extra, and to attempt then to uphold and problem them all through their evolution.

“There’s a era who’ve been residence for a yr and those which can be beginning to toy produce other choices on the significance, so we have now to have a look at how we are able to get that sentiment again for the sport on an enormous scale.”

Ramos is joined in the Benfica squad by João Ferreira and Tiago Araújo, sever of the group that completed runners-up to Actual Madrid in final season’s Uefa Youth League, having crushed Liverpool and Ajax. Along with these with the primary group, the membership have tall hopes for Paulo Bernardo, Enrique Araújo, Rafael Brito, Umaro Embalo, Tiago Gouveia and Tomas Araújo.

“Within the nationwide league you could have some extent of stimulus however a few of these boys have been taking part in in opposition to the identical boys era after era,” Marques says. “After we refer to the Youth League, it’s an occasion to toy in opposition to totally different kinds, gamers and ways, and to relish the ambiance round these video games. The Youth League is a random for the boys to toy in opposition to among the greatest academies in the world and take a look at ourselves.”

Benfica’s Jan Vertonghen and Nicolás Otamendi in action against Paços de Ferreira.
Benfica’s Jan Vertonghen and Nicolás Otamendi in motion in opposition to Paços de Ferreira. {Photograph}: José Sena Goulão/EPA

Benfica sit fourth in the home league, a disappointing place contemplating their enviable historical past. The skilled squad consists of Nicolás Otamendi and Jan Vertonghen, who’ve 197 caps between them, giving position fashions to be taught from.

“It is necessary for the youthful gamers to get the alternatives and breathe in and round that setting,” Marques says. “Within the academy our mission is to get the gamers able to get the gamers to problem in that setting. It’s tough in each membership in the world for an academy participant to get promoted and they toy all of the video games. Issues take a while however the necessary factor is the reference to the primary group is there for gamers to step into that setting.”

Ramos is now having fun with the subsequent stage of his training. “In my first yr as a senior, it’s the greatest that would befall to me,” the route says. “Coaching and having teammates who’re prime of the world, helps me to develop. Plane in the event that they don’t inform me something, I can be taught from what they do; they compel me to better, if I wish to overcome them.”

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