Peter Lim, Meriton Capital & the Portuguese talent of the Benfica formation

Jorge Mendes, Per Lim, & Valencia CF

Jorge Mendes, Per Lim, & Valencia CF

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.

Joao Cancelo now of Valencia CF

Joao Cancelo now of Valencia CF

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.

Bernado Silva Monaco

Bernado Silva Monaco

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.

Cavaleiro Deportivo la Coruna

Cavaleiro Deportivo la Coruna

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.

Please leave comments, feedback, share and all that good stuff.

Welcome/Summer Ins & Outs/ Adeus to Enzo Perez AND Luisão?/New Season

Welcome everybody to Sempre Vermelho, which translates to ‘Always Red’ in English. This is a new and for the mean time weekly blog concerning all things Sport Lisboa e Benfica futebol written in English. I aim to keep posts informative and current, however I will also let you know my opinion and analysis on the state of affairs of the team and football club in general.

The 2013-14 season was one to remember for all Benfiquistas out there. Not only were the team able to win the national championship (Primeira Liga), but also demonstrated their sheer determination, capability and superiority by also capturing the Taca de Portugal (Portugal Cup) and the Taca de Liga (League Cup. Thereby, marking an unprecedented treble in Portuguese football history. However, the campaign was bittersweet as SL Benfica lost a second sucessive UEFA Europa League Final, albeit via a dubious penalty shootout to Sevilla of Spain. Reports surrounding the game talked of the Bela Guttman curse, where legendary coach Guttman appeared to have cursed Benfica by declaring SL Benfica will never win a European trophy again for at least 100 years after refusing to award him a more lucrative contract after winning the club it’s second Champions League in 1962. Fifty-two years and eight European finals later it appears he may well have done so.

Therefore, anyone who has a mild understanding of Benfica’s way of doing things knew the club would allow key players depart to other clubs for cash, especially after a succesful season. Not to mention the financial troubles of one of Portugal’s largest banks Banco Espirito Santo, of whom Benfica are around 200 million Euros indebted to. Estádio da Luz saw the departures of Ezequiel Garay to Zenit St Petersburg, Lazar Markovic to Liverpool, Rodrigo and André Gomes to Valencia CF, Jan Oblak & Guilherme Siqueira to Atlético Madrid, Óscar Cardozo to Trabzonspor, Djuricic to Mainz, whilst the futures of Enzo Perez and veteran club captain Luisão continue to be contested by Valencia & Juventus respectively.

Nevertheless, the summer has seen some talent also come in to the Estádio da Luz also, last season’s Pacos de Ferrerira saviour Bebé, left-back Benito, central defender Lisandro Lopez, forwards Nelson Oliveira & Pizzi have returned from loan, wing-back Eliseu from Malaga CF, Brazillian #1 goalkeeper Julio César and highly rated prospect Anderson Talisca have also joined the squad. Although, the squad does not appear to have the same cutting edge of last season, it is still appears talented enough to defend their Liga Zon Sagres away from favourites FC Porto and a resurgent Sporting side. However, long term injuries to the likes of anchorman Fejsa and the possible deparures of Perez, Gaitán, Salvio and long time captain and defence marshall Luisão continue to worry Benfica supporters and coach Jorge Jesus alike.

Despite a winning start at home in the league against Pacos de Ferreira last Saturday, the Juventus/Luisão situation is one that puzzles; as at the age of 33 you would assume Luisão had agreed to see out the rest of his career as Benfica captain. However, despite key departures and public refusal/rejection of Juventus’ interest. Reports have emerged that Luisão’s agent has already agreed personal terms for his player with the Italian club and is simply waiting for Juventus to pay Benfica’s evaluation of 3 million Euros. Should club engine Perez and club ‘giraffe’ Luisão leave the Estádio da Luz this August, this season may prove to be Jorge Jesus’ most challenging yet.

Hopefully the Supertaca capture through a penalty shooutout against Rio Ave, which may well have allowed Artur Moraes to still have a future at the Estádio da Luz, was the first of many trophies to arrive in the hands of captain Luisao and coach Jorge Jesus this new 2014-15 campaign.

Please leave comments in regards to this blogpost and please bookmark, share and all that good stuff.  Obrigado & remember to be Sempre Vermelho!