Monday, 22 Jul 2024

Talent Factory: How Benfica Develops World-Class Players

It’s no secret that the Premier League is currently regarded as Europe’s top division. With immense financial resources and some of the world’s best coaches, English clubs have a clear advantage. However, the league didn’t reach this status on its own. Premier League clubs have extensive scouting networks across the globe, ensuring they recruit the best young talent. One club that has consistently produced exceptional players is Benfica, a Liga Primera club in Portugal.

Benfica’s Impressive Player Development Track Record

Benfica has gained recognition as a serious talent factory, having developed and sold a significant number of high-profile footballers who have gone on to establish themselves as world-class players. Let’s take a look at some of the notable players who have come through the ranks at Benfica:

Bernardo Silva

Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva, a graduate of the Benfica academy, has made a significant impact since joining Manchester City. With 56 goals and 60 assists in 312 appearances, Silva’s creative abilities and intelligent play have been crucial to City’s success. He was signed by Monaco for just under €16m in 2015 and later brought to City for a potential total fee of €70m.

Ruben Dias

Ruben Dias, a young and technically proficient centre-back, joined Manchester City from Benfica in 2020. Since his arrival, he has been instrumental in City’s dominance, further establishing himself as one of the best defenders in the game.

Joao Felix

Joao Felix, another former Benfica player, joined the club in 2015 and quickly made a name for himself. His performances caught the attention of Atletico Madrid, who paid a staggering €126 million for the young Portuguese talent.

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Joao Cancelo

Joao Cancelo, a star product of the Benfica academy, has showcased his footballing intelligence and technical ability throughout his career. Having commanded substantial transfer fees during his moves to Valencia, Juventus, and Manchester City, Cancelo has become one of the most expensive right-backs in the world.


Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson, hailing from Benfica’s strong roots in South America, joined Manchester City in 2017 for €40m. His impressive performances highlight Benfica’s ability to develop top talents from various parts of the world.

Enzo Fernandez

Enzo Fernandez, an Argentine midfielder, played a pivotal role in Argentina’s victory in the 2022 World Cup. His performances caught the attention of Chelsea, who paid a staggering €121m for his services.

The Success Behind Benfica’s Academy: A Profitable Model

In 2022, Benfica’s academy was ranked the most profitable in the world by CIES Football Observatory. Since 2015, the club has generated €379m in sales of former academy players, surpassing even traditional powerhouses like Real Madrid.

How has Benfica managed to develop so many talented footballers despite operating with a fraction of the budget of larger European clubs? Several factors contribute to their success:

Academy Structure

Benfica’s academy operation is extensive, with five talent centers across Portugal. This allows the club to identify the best rising stars from various regions in the country. Unlike Premier League clubs, which are limited to 250 academy players, Benfica has around 500 players and 115 coaches dedicated to their development. Individual attention and ample training time set the stage for their success.

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Benfica invests a significant amount of money in their academy, ensuring state-of-the-art facilities and advanced departments for welfare, nutrition, medicine, and psychology.

First Team Opportunities

Benfica understands the importance of providing talented youngsters with first-team opportunities. The existence of a strong reserve league allows promising academy products to gain valuable experience and progress towards the first team. Each year, Benfica aims to promote two academy graduates, giving them regular game time to develop their skills.

Coaching Methods

Benfica’s coaching methods focus on technical proficiency and adaptability to the demands of the top European leagues. Filipe Coelho, the Under-19s coach, emphasizes “positive play” with numerical overloads, close connections between players, and smart passing. The club also maintains flexibility and freedom in their coaching approach to avoid over-coaching and hindering player development.

Modern Technology

Benfica’s academy is equipped with modern technology, such as the 360S simulator, which allows players to practice technical skills in simulated match environments. These technological advancements play a vital role in enhancing player development.

Financial Constraints

Benfica’s academy success is partly driven by the financial constraints the club faces. Unlike clubs in the Premier League or La Liga, Benfica lacks access to substantial commercial revenue and sponsorship money. Consequently, developing and selling players has been a highly effective strategy for the club. It not only generates significant income but also reduces the need for expensive signings from other clubs.

The Next Generation of Benfica Talents

Several players in Benfica’s current squad have caught the eye of teams in Europe’s top leagues. One standout player is striker Goncalo Ramos, who stepped into the shoes of Darwin Nunez after his transfer to Liverpool. Ramos’s exceptional talent and young age make him a strong candidate for a big move in the future.

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Other players to watch include 24-year-old defensive midfielder Florentino Luis, known for his tackles, interceptions, and technical abilities, and Antonio Silva, a tall, speedy, and composed center-back comfortable on the ball.

As these young talents continue to progress, the market value for their services will likely increase. Benfica’s excellent youth development system ensures a steady stream of talent and sets the stage for future success.


Q: How has Benfica’s academy become so successful?

A: Benfica’s academy boasts an extensive structure, comprehensive coaching methods, modern technology, and a clear pathway to the first team. The club’s ability to identify and develop young talent, coupled with financial constraints that necessitate player sales, contribute to their academy’s success.

Q: Which players have come through the ranks at Benfica?

A: Benfica has produced a number of world-class players, including Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias, Joao Felix, Joao Cancelo, Ederson, and Enzo Fernandez.

Q: Why is Benfica’s academy profitable?

A: Despite financial constraints, Benfica’s academy has been highly profitable due to the club’s ability to develop and sell players for substantial fees. Their focus on youth development reduces the need for expensive signings from other clubs.


Benfica’s success in developing world-class players has made them a respected talent factory. Through a well-structured academy, ample first-team opportunities, innovative coaching methods, modern technology, and a need-driven focus on player sales, Benfica has built a sustainable model that consistently produces top talent. As they nurture the next generation of players, Benfica’s reputation as a breeding ground for excellence is set to continue. To stay updated on the latest developments, visit