Benfica have developed a reputation as masters of the transfer market and look set for another huge windfall as top clubs chase a deal for Enzo Fernandez.
The midfielder only arrived at the Portuguese side from River Plate last summer, but already looks set to depart for a gargantuan profit with Chelsea prepared to make the 21-year-old the most expensive Premier League footballer of all time.
Fernandez’s sale would continue Benfica’s incredible success in the transfer market, with the club having brought in more than €1bn from smart recruitment and academy products across the past two decade.
As Chelsea chase a deal worth up to £112m for the World Cup winner, we’ve ranked Benfica’s biggest ever sales.
5. Axel Witsel – £31.7m (Zenit St Petersburg)
Benfica made a handsome profit on Axel Witsel after just one season of service from the midfielder, with big-spending Zenit St Petersburg securing a deal worth £31.7m in 2012.
Zenit signed Witsel and FC Porto’s Hulk in a double deal worth around £64m, as the Russians flexed their financial might with a raid on Portugal’s top division.
Benfica had signed Witsel from Standard Liege for a fee of just €9m the previous summer, with the combative midfielder emerging as part of Belgium’s Golden Generation of talent. He made 52 appearances in all competitions for Benfica and scored five goals, forming part of the team that won the Taça da Liga during his sole season in Lisbon.
Zenit’s offer matched Witsel’s release clause and saw the Belgian depart for a figure more than four times Benfica’s initial investment. He spent five seasons at Zenit and won the Russian Premier League, before spells at Tianjin Tianhai, Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid.
4. Ederson – £35m (Manchester City)
Pep Guardiola’s search for a goalkeeper comfortable with the ball at his feet landed at Ederson, as Manchester City made the Brazilian the then-most expensive goalkeeper in history.
Ederson had been part of Benfica’s system as a teenager, but was released before returning to the club after an impressive spell at Rio Ave. He broke into the team after an injury to compatriot Julio Cesar and soon began to gain attention for his performances, as Benfica won back-to-back league titles and a Portuguese double in 2016/17.
His arrival in England ushered in an era of domestic dominance for Manchester City, who won the Premier League title with a record-breaking 100 points during his debut campaign. Ederson has won four titles in just five seasons at the Etihad, forging a reputation as arguably the best goalkeeper in world football with the ball at his feet.
His booming long kick and accuracy over short and long distances has been a potent weapon for City, with Ederson’s range of passing evident over five seasons of decorated success in English football. He has twice been named in the PFA Team of the Year and is a three-time winner of the Premier League’s Golden Glove.
3. Ruben Dias – £65m (Manchester City)
Manchester City secured a second big-money signing from Benfica three summers later, as the Premier League side signed Ruben Dias in a £65m deal.
Dias arrived with a growing reputation after progressing from the Portuguese club’s academy ranks, having won the Primeira Liga Best Young Player of the Year award during his breakthrough campaign. He led Benfica to the Portuguese league title in 2018/19, before departing for England as City sought a replacement for Vincent Kompany.
The deal saw Nicolas Otamendi head in the opposite direction for a separate fee of €15m (£13.6m) and City’s purchase of Dias has since proven a fine investment. The centre-back starred during his first season as City regained the Premier League title from Liverpool, with his performances seeing Dias named as the FWA Footballer of the Year and Premier League Player of the Season.
He has made 109 appearances across his two-and-a-half seasons at the Etihad, a period which has included successive Premier League titles and EFL Cup success. A leader in Pep Guardiola’s side, his uncompromising brand of defending has made City a more solid outfit since his arrival.
2. Darwin Nunez – £85m (Liverpool)
Darwin Nunez departed Benfica for a huge profit last summer, as Liverpool splashed the cash to land the in-demand forward.
Nunez had been Benfica’s own record signing when arriving from Almeria in a Portuguese record €24m transfer, but departed just two seasons later for a stunning fee. The Uruguayan scored 48 goals in just 85 appearances for Benfica, including a prolific 2021/22 campaign that saw Europe’s top clubs take notice.
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Nunez won the Primeira Liga Player of the Year award and the Bola de Prata as Portugal’s top scorer, after scoring 26 goals in just 28 league games. He also scored six goals in ten UCL appearances as Benfica reached the last eight, form which persuaded Liverpool to spend big on the forward.
The deal was worth an initial £64m, though could rise to around £85m with performance-related add-ons, a figure that would eclipse the club-record £75m that took Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool from Southampton.
Nunez has had a mixed time since arriving into English football with criticism over his wastefulness around goal, but a return of nine goals in 14 starts across all competitions offers encouragement at Anfield.
1. Joao Felix – £113m (Atletico Madrid)
Joao Felix is Benfica’s record sale and is the fourth most expensive footballer of all time.
Felix’s rise was meteoric as he went from academy prospect to global name in just over a season, with a brilliant debut campaign persuading Atletico Madrid to break the bank for the forward.
The teenager broke into the Benfica side during the 2018/19 campaign and scored 20 goals in 43 appearances as The Eagles won the Primeira Liga title. Felix was named as winner of the Golden Boy award in 2019 and headed to Spain in a £113m club-record deal.
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It was a move that shocked Europe as Atletico obliterated their transfer record to sign Felix, whose three seasons in the Spanish capital have been mixed. He has scored 34 goals in 130 appearances, with his free-spirited style at odds with the pragmatic approach of Diego Simeone at Atleti.
Despite winning Atletico Madrid’s Player of the Season accolade in 2021/22, he has fallen out of favour this time around and has started just six league games. A host of Premier League clubs are monitoring his situation, following some impressive performances at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.