For those of us who have not only been following the activities at Benfica during the summer but also European football/soccer transfer deals in general, you would have come across the name Meriton Capital Limited.
Meriton Capital Ltd is the investment vehicle for the Singapore billionaire businessman Peter Lim, who purchased the economic rights to then Benfica players André Gomes & Rodrigo Moreno for 45 million Euros during the January transfer window of 2014. It was revealed at the time of this deal that Peter Lim was preparing a takeover deal for Spanish football club Valencia CF, under the guidance of a certain Portuguese ‘super-agent’ Jorge Mendes. This may not come as a suprise as Rodrigo and André Gomes are economically managed by Jorge Mendes through his management company Gestifute. Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira was heralded at the time for bringing further revenue into the club without losing any players, as Meriton Capital agreed for Rodrigo and Gomes to continue as Benfica players until the end of the season.
However, it now appears the club have entered into further business with Peter Lim’s Meriton Capital for a further three Benfica players who happen to be very talented, Portuguese and were developed through the club’s ‘Formação‘ academy. It has been reported that Lim’s Meriton Capital, who has agreed a deal to take over Valencia CF, have acquired the rights to forward Ivan Cavaleiro for 10 million Euros, Joao Cancelo for 10 million Euros, and Bernardo Silva for 20 million Euros. This deal is both peculiar and frustrating, the frustration arises as these are young talented Portuguese players who have enormous potential to not only play for Benfica’s first team but to develop into top players. SL Benfica have invested time and money in these players bringing them up as players in the ‘Formation’, to not even give them a chance in the first team and sell them to a rival club in Europe. The peculiar aspect is the fact Cavaleiro has been sent on loan to another Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna for this 2014-15 season, while Bernardo Silva has been sent to AS Monaco in France. After President Luis Filipe Vieria explained they were only going on loan due to the lack of playing time they would recieve and made clear they will be a big part of the 2015/16 season. Joao Cancelo has arrived at Valencia on loan, but is understood his transfer will be permanent once Peter Lim has officially completed his takeover deal at the Mestalla. Nevertheless, one has to remember that all these players like many in Portugal share the same agent and management company, that is one Jorge Mendes and Gestifute.
This leads to questioning of the decisions taken by the President Luis Filipe Viera and his directors. Is the financial situation at the Estádio da Luz that worrying, the club are forced to entertain any interest from clubs and investment companies in any player? Should the reports concerning Cancelo, Cavaleiro and Silva are true, then it certainly appears so. However, in a recent interview with Benfica TV, Luis Filipe Vieria attempted to de-dramatise the impact the financial crisis at Banco Espirito Santo. He stated that Benfica have always abided to their financial obligations and have never defaulted on payments in the last 14 years. Vieria continued to say, “The problem is not the BES Benfica but the country. Over the past decade, Benfica paid € 200 million of interest and was never in default. Benfica is a company that invoice EUR 100 million. A club that has always complied with this institution, it is a good customer of the bank.”
In addition, Benfica announced a new 3 year sponsorship deal with the Dubai airline Fly Emirates. Executive director Domingos Oliveira declined to reveal the financial return but emphasised this is ‘the beginning of a long term that will surely surpass the temporal agreement’. The agreement will see Fly Emirates have permanent visibility at the Estádio da Luz and the logo displayed on the jerseys of the teams of the Benfica Academy/’Formação‘. Therfore, this deal coupled with the profitable sales from key players this summer should have helped to keep the coffers of Benfica looking healthy.
Following, Benfica’s 1-0 away win on Sunday away at Boavista, thanks to an Eliseu wonder strike. All attention now turns to the first Lisboa derby of the new 2014-15 season, next Sunday at the Estádio da Luz. The issues on the agenda are the knee injury of Ruben Amorím, Jorge Jesus’ possible suspension after being sent off at Boavista, and the availability of Enzo Perez. Perez did not take part at Boavista, with Jesus stating injury. Valencia are persisting with their pursuit of Perez, but Benfica will not do business for less than 25-30 million Euros.
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