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Benfica most expensive player sales - How SLB made over €1.1 billion in outgoing transfers

11:16 SAST 2022/07/10
Benfica transfer gurus
Benfica have become masters of the market by shrewdly reinvesting the money made from cashing in on potential superstars

Benfica are one of the 'Big Three' in Portugal, along with Porto and Sporting CP.

The Eagles have won a record 37 Portuguese league titles, along with 26 Taca de Portugal trophies – also a record. Benfica have also won back-to-back European Cups, in 1961 and 1962.

Over the years, many big names have played for the Eagles, including the likes of Eusebio, Mario Coluna, Luisao, Angel Di Maria, Nuno Gomes, Ruben Dias and David Luiz.

In the 21st century, Benfica has produced plenty of players who have gone on to make big-money moves to elite European clubs such as Joao Felix, Renato Sanches, Jan Oblak and Victor Lindelof.

Indeed, Benfica have raked in over €1 billion (£840m/$1.01bn) in transfer sales since the turn of the century.

The latest big-money export from Lisbon was Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez, who joined Liverpool for a whopping €80 million (£68m/$87m).

Benfica biggest transfer sales by season

Season

Biggest sale

Fee

Total sales

2022-23

Darwin Nunez

€80m

€134m

2021-22

Pedrinho

€18m

€49.5m

2020-21

Ruben Dias

€68m

€76.5m

2019-20

Joao Felix

€127m

€240m

2018-19

Talisca

€19m

€73.3m

2017-18

Ederson

€40m

€132.7m

2016-17

Renato Sanches

€35m

€121.3m

2015-16

Rodrigo

€30m

€104.3m

2014-15

Enzo Perez

€25m

€104.6m

2013-14

Nemanja Matic

€25m

€45.7m

2012-13

Axel Witsel

€40m

€75.7m

2011-12

Fabio Coentrao

€30m

€41.2m

2010-11

Angel Di Maria

€33m

€85.7m

2009-10

Konstantinos Katsouranis

€3.5m

€6.8m

2008-09

Nelson

€6m

€7.6m

2007-08

Simao

€20m

€55.7m

2006-07

Ricardo Rocha

€5m

€11.3m

2005-06

Miguel

€8m

€9.8m

2004-05

Tiago Mendes

€15m

€18.4m

2003-04

Ednilson

€130k (loan fee)

€130k

2002-03

Marco Caneira

€1.5m

€1.50m

2001-02

Fernando Meira

€7.5m

€21.3m

2000-01

Nuno Gomes

€17m

€19.4m

Total

€1.44b (Approx)

*All figures are taken from Transfermarkt unless stated otherwise

Benfica top 10 most expensive sales

  • Angel Di Maria Benfica

    Angel Di Maria | €33m | Real Madrid | 2010

    Angel Di Maria might have started his career in Argentina with Rosario Central, but he came to prominence during his three-year stint at Benfica between 2007 and 2010.

    The winger was impressive at Benfica, especially during the 2009-10 season, when he helped the club win the Primeira Liga and Taca da Liga titles.

    He followed that up with an impressive 2010 World Cup campaign for Argentina and, unsurprisingly, Real Madrid came calling for him in the summer of 2010.

  • RENATO SANCHES BENFICA

    Renato Sanches | €35m | Bayern Munich | 2016

    A Benfica youth product, Renato Sanches seemed set to conquer European football at one point. He was promoted to the senior team at Benfica in the 2015-16 season. But one season was all the youngster, then 18 years old, needed to make the continent's biggest clubs take notice.

    The energetic midfielder was heavily linked with Manchester United but ultimately opted to join Bayern Munich in the summer of 2016 for €35m – the highest fee at the time for a Portuguese player in the Primeira Liga.

    He would go on to help Portugal win Euro 2016 before being awarded the Golden Boy trophy a few months later. Sanches' career never took off at Bayern but he has got back to something like his best at Lille and is now expected to get another shot at one of Europe's biggest clubs.

  • Victor Lindelof Benfica

    Victor Lindelof | €35m | Manchester United | 2017

    Lindelof was roped in by Benfica at a tender age of 17 in the summer of 2012. After initially proving himself in Benfica's reserve team, the Swedish centre-back was promoted to the senior squad and never looked back.

    He was one of the mainstays at Benfica in the 2016-17 season, making 47 appearances in all competitions. He was linked with a several Premier League clubs through the season and, in the summer of 2017, Manchester United swooped in and secured his services.

  • Nelson Semedo Benfica

    Nelson Semedo | €35.7m | Barcelona | 2017

    Semedo is another Portuguese star who made a name for himself at Benfica.

    Having joined the Eagles from boyhood club Sintrense in 2012, the right-back established himself at the Estadio da Luz after a few seasons in the reserves and a loan spell.

    He enjoyed a breakout season in 2016-17, with his imaginative play down the flank attracting the attention of numerous big clubs.

    It was Barcelona who eventually snapped him up in the summer of 2017. Semedo spent three seasons at Camp Nou before joining Wolves in 2020.

  • Raul Jimenez Benfica FC Bayern Munchen Champions League 13042016

    Raul Jimenez | €38m | Wolves | 2019

    Wolves' Raul Jimenez is currently a dependable striker in the Premier League but he made his bones at Benfica.

    The Mexican had come through Club America's youth system before signing for Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in 2014. But a disappointing season that saw him score just the one goal meant he ended up leaving the club for Benfica.

    In three seasons in Lisbons, Jimenez scored 31 goals in 120 appearances and, ahead of the 2018-19 season, Wolves secured Jimenez on a loan with the option to buy for €38m.

    After Jimenez's good start to life in England, Wolves decided to activate the clause and sign him permanently in April 2019.

  • Axel Witsel Benfica

    Axel Witsel | €40m | Zenit | 2012

    An central midfielder who has operated in an attacking role and as a winger in his early days, Axel Witsel was a highly-rated youngster when he joined Benfica in 2011 at the age of 22.

    But after a season in which the Belgian impressed all and sundry, he joined Russian side Zenit, who triggered the release clause in Witsel's contract.

    Witsel subsequently made a shock move to China before eventually returning to Europe to link up with Borussia Dortmund. He then signed for Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2022.

  • Ederson Benfica

    Ederson | €40m | Manchester City | 2017

    It is not common to see a club splash out €40m on a goalkeeper but that is exactly what Pep Guardiola and Manchester City did in the summer of 2017.

    Guardiola considered the agile Brazilian to be the shot-stopper best suited for his style of football and acted swiftly to reel him in.

    Interestingly, Ederson had only joined Benfica in 2015 but had established himself firmly in the first XI by the end of 2016-17 season.

    So, after a brilliant campaign that saw Benfica win the Primeira Liga, Taca de Portugal and Supertaca Candido de Oliveira, Ederson was a man in demand, and his move to City made him the second-costliest goalkeeper ever at that time.

  • Ruben Dias Benfica

    Ruben Dias | €68m | Manchester City | 2020

    A Benfica academy product, Ruben Dias would end up becoming one of the costliest defenders in the world when he moved to Manchester City in 2020.

    Dias made his debut for Benfica's first team in 2017 and soon became one an integral part of the Portuguese side's defence. He won two trophies during his time at Benfica, the Primeira Liga in 2018-19 and the Supertaca Candido de Oliveira in 2019.

    His mature performances in central defence for Portugal and Benfica had attracted the attention of several clubs. But it was City who ended up securing his services for a whopping €68m.

  • Darwin Nunez Benfica 2021-22

    Darwin Nunez | €80m | Liverpool | 2022

    Champions League runners-up Liverpool made a statement of intent in the summer of 2022 when they captured one of the hottest strikers in Europe: Darwin Nunez.

    The Uruguay international had set the Primeira Liga and the Champions League alight with his brilliant goalscoring record for Benfica and had a host of interested clubs swarming around.

    He joined Benfica only in 2020 and had a steady start to life in Portugal. But he showed what he's capable of in the 2021-22 season, managing a fantastic return of 34 goals from 41 appearances in all competitions. Manchester United were one of the clubs credited with an active interest in him but it was Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool who shelled out the big bucks to land the Uruguayan hitman.

  • Joao Felix Benfica

    Joao Felix | €127m | Atletico Madrid | 2019

    A Benfica academy graduate, Joao Felix's rise in Portugal was meteoric. So much so that he became the second-most expensive teenager in the world in 2019 when Atletico Madrid shelled out a jaw-dropping €127m to take him to the Wanda Metropolitano.

    Felix thus became Benfica's biggest transfer sale and Atletico's costliest acquisition ever. In fact, Felix became the fourth-most expensive footballer of all time, after Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Philippe Coutinho.

    Interestingly, it was a prolific debut season at Benfica that saw Felix's stock rise sky-high. The nimble-footed forward made 43 appearances for Benfica in 2018-19, scoring 20 goals at a tender age of 19. Those returns were hard to ignore. And Diego Simeone, looking to replace Antoine Griezmann, decided to make the move for Felix.