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

About the yrs, the club’s academy — recognized as the Benfica Campus — has nurtured quite a few stars that have gone on to command substantial transfer charges from Europe’s greatest clubs Ederson, Renato Sanches, Gonçalo Guedes, Félix and Dias to title just a number of.
Rodrigo Magalhães is the technological coordinator for the Campus and has been performing in youth advancement at the club because 2005. He tells CNN Activity that Benfica’s concentration on building its youth stars as human beings right before footballers is critical to its achievements.

Close to 95 gamers stay at the academy at any one time, and when they changeover from the less than-18s to the under-19s, players go out into their very own houses or apartments in the metropolis.

“In our opinion, it was the age that they start off to have their own life,” Magalhães states to CNN. “Some of them have girlfriends, some of them reside two or three in an apartment. So they start out a existence outside the house the academy as we need to have to get ready them to live their life simply because we know that a tiny proportion of players will achieve the intention to perform in the very first crew or in the most important leagues in Europe.

“Immediately after those people ages, beneath-19 and beneath-23, normally all of our players who development [from the academy] can perform in to start with divisions and second divisions right here in Portugal or in other countries, but we will need to get ready them if football fails.

“The initially aim was to produce them like human beings and we need to put together them with a strong tutorial advancement too.”

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

European champions

Final year, Benfica’s Campus workforce lastly won the most coveted prize in youth club soccer: the UEFA Youth League. Released in 2013, it really is a event contested by all the youth teams of the clubs enjoying in that season’s Champions League.

Right after getting rid of in all a few of its previous final appearances, Benfica finally acquired its hands on the trophy with an eye-catching 6- earn in excess of RB Salzburg, a end result that drew admiring glances from several of Europe’s most significant golf equipment.

“Anyone is so very pleased of that minute due to the fact it was a approach that failed to start out that period,” Magalhães claims. “A lot of all those players began with us when they had been 6 decades previous, many others 10 a long time old, 11 years previous.

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“We want to glance to all the folks that operate with them — coaches, assistant coaches, academics, social section, scouting department — every person in this article has a unique portion in that second.”

Magalhães says all around 90% of the squad that won the UEFA Youth League started off participating in at the Campus between the age groups of underneath-6s and below-12s.

While Benfica has its major foundation in Lisbon, it also features five training facilities all-around Portugal, which let the club to scout and then nurture the most effective talent from throughout the place.

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In the squad for the semifinals and finals, Magalhães suggests there were players from all their training centers — in the north, south and heart of Portugal — a feat he is very very pleased of as it is proof the project Benfica entrusted him with is bearing fruit.

But even if they hadn’t gained the trophy previous period, Magalhães would still have considered the team’s participation as a results. In the 8 seasons due to the fact the Youth League’s inception — the 2020-21 time was canceled because of to the Covid pandemic — Benfica has attained 4 finals, a record only two-time winner Chelsea has been ready to match.

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“Extra than winning the trophy, it truly is the regularity,” Magalhães claims. “If we had been a staff that goes at the time in five several years to a semifinal or to a ultimate, okay, it can be excellent for us. But a staff [with Benfica’s record] usually means that definitely we have a team of gamers that are able to compete at the highest level in comparison with other teams in Europe.

“For us, the regularity is a signal that our function is likely effectively.”

With Benfica not able to rival Europe’s wealthiest golf equipment — like Manchester Town, Genuine Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain — for player transfers, Magalhães is aware of the initially team’s greatest route to accomplishment is as a result of nurturing its have world-course talent.

Aspiring stars

António Silva is a person of the existing crop of increasing stars in Benfica’s academy and was in the group for past season’s victorious UEFA Youth League marketing campaign. The 18-year-outdated central defender joined Benfica in 2014 and, provided his posture, in a natural way hopes to emulate Dias’ achievement.

Dias joined Manchester Metropolis from Benfica for all-around $75 million in 2020 and straight away cemented his position between the very best defenders in the Leading League. In his two seasons at Metropolis, the 25-calendar year-aged has played a essential position in winning two Premier League titles and achieving the 2021 Champions League closing.

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

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

“I glimpse up to Rúben a great deal,” he tells CNN Activity. “He started off taking part in below and glimpse at all the things that he obtained at Manchester City and also in the workforce at Benfica. He’s a human being to look up to and it’s essential for me to have my references to get to the prime.

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“Portuguese golf equipment perform a ton with the youth ages, so it is significant for us to have the sort of gamers that achieve the top and participate in in all the leagues, in the best leagues like the Leading League and La Liga, like Nuno [Mendes] getting in PSG.

“For us, it is important to have all those form of players, like idols for us to try to also total this system and, if it is doable, do it much better than them.”

Silva describes himself as a contemporary heart again, comfortable with the ball at his ft and able of playing extensive balls or passing on your own the flooring. As properly as Dias, Silva attracts his inspiration from Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and True Madrid’s Antonio Rüdiger.

Nevertheless, Silva is aware none of the players’ particular and staff accomplishment would be possible with no the perseverance of the hundreds of team that perform in Benfica’s bases all around the place.

“Benfica has a whole lot of people who get the job done for us, that give everything to us and this is the most vital factor,” he explains. “Benfica Campus is significant, but the individuals who get the job done with us? They are additional essential.”