[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith more modest transfer budgets than their equivalents in Europe’s major top tiers, Portuguese clubs have a longstanding habit of scouting South America for the latest yet-to-crowned superstar, with no side more effective at unearthing a hidden gem than Benfica.
The Estádio da Luz outfit are responsible for bringing the likes of Ángel Di María, David Luiz, Enzo Pérez, Nicolás Gaitán and Ramires to European football, playing a major role in developing these players into their current international status.
After a summer that saw Ezequiel Garay, Rodrigo, Jan Oblak, Lazar Marković and goal-merchant Óscar Cardozo leave the club following the side’s first Primera Liga triumph since 2010, Porto’s off-season recruitment looked decidedly more impressive than Benfica’s.
However, the club’s scouting network must once more be given an unanimous pat on the back for discovering Benfica’s latest South American revelation – Anderson Talisca.
The 20-year-old attacker was signed from Bahia ahead of this season for a €4 million fee, significant given his relative inexperience, but he has taken Portuguese football by storm in his first six months in Europe.
Despite having played twice for Brazil under-20’s prior to his move to Lisbon, Benfica took a leap of faith on the youngster, signing him less than a year after his competitive club debut and with only 30 Brasileiro appearances to his name.
The gamble has certainly paid off though, with Talisca starting all 14 of the club’s league games so far this term and playing a massive role in firing Jorge Jesus’ men to the top of the table.
The Brazilian has netted eight goals for his new club domestically, while also scoring the only goal of the game in a 1-0 Champions League victory over Monaco.
His impressive start has not gone unnoticed, with the 20-year-old called up to the senior Brazil squad post-World Cup by new head coach Dunga.
Meanwhile, transfer rumblings have already started, with leading clubs in England reportedly taking a keen interest in the South American’s progression.
Chelsea boss José Mourinho confessed that work permit issues were the only obstacle to the Brazilian signing for a Premier League club before he moved to Portugal, which will surely be remedied in the near future as Talisca starts to represent Brazil.
His style has seen him compared to a number of top players; Benfica manager Jesus has likened Talisca to Rivaldo, citing his powerful shot from range, immaculate left foot and exemplary execution on the ball.
Others have compared the Benfica man to Yaya Touré, with Talisca’s powerful running and long stride not dissimilar to the traits of the Manchester City and Ivory Coast star.
Talisca’s start to life in Europe has been highly impressive, but it will be important for the attacker to keep his feet on the ground and continue to try to improve under Jesus’ tutelage; the Estádio da Luz side return to domestic action tonight follow the mid-season break.
The Brazilian has admitted that having an impact in Champions League fixtures has been a real challenge, while his goalscoring exploits have dried up somewhat of late with his last goal for Benfica coming back at the start of November.
That said, at 20 years old, Talisca looks set to have a very bright future in the game for both club and country and has all the attributes to become a household name if his first six months at Benfica are anything to go by.
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