Thursday, 16 May 2013


Who is he? Where does he play?

Benfica may have been unlucky in losing their seventh consecutive European final to Chelsea on Wednesday night, but they showed enough talent and skill to suggest it would have taken a black heart to react humorously to their extraordinary "bottle"-job. They have lost just 2 games this season, both this week, and a potential treble as gone out of the window. One must feel mightily sorry for their players, including 22 year old Eduardo Salvio, for their dramatic plight.

Why? Did he have a bet on it? Will he suffer physical injury as a result?

No, the young Argentinean winger deserved some success for his fine performances on the right side of Jorge Jesus's 4-2-3-1 system after returning from Athletico Madrid to Benfica for a club record 13.5 million Euros last summer. Despite standing at a relatively small 5ft 7, Salvio makes use of sublime balance and quick feet to tease his full-back, as well as possessing an impressive cross to supply Oscar Cardozo in the middle. He plays as a conventional winger, using a quick turn of pace to pick the ball up and run directly, preferring to take his man on out wide.

Return to Benfica? He's been here before?

Yes, it's slightly complicated. He began in his native South America with Lanus, scoring nine goals in his debut season before helping them win the following season's Copa Sudamerica. His rise earned him a 10 million Euro move to Athletico Madrid in January 2010, before a loan to Benfica was arranged the following season. Salvio impressed in Portugal, winning the League Cup and scoring 10 goals. A calf injury saw him go back to Madrid, where he spent the 2011/2012 season (winning the Europa League) and despite becoming a regular with 31 appearances for Diego Simeone's side, he returned to the Stadium of Light last July. It has been a strange journey for a player who is only 22, but now he seems to have settled in Lisbon.

Back to Athletico next year then?

I know you're being cynical, but it's unlikely. Salvio seems to have indeed settled into Jesus' plans, starting 38 games for Benfica this season, scoring 11 goals. Even though he does play as a conventional winger, his goals are a product of his adeptness on his left foot, cutting across his marker with pace to get on the end of balls into the box. It is this acceleration and clever, incisive runs that make up the main attributes of his game, as well as nimble, quick-footed skill that allows him to be comfortable on the ball when surrounded by numerous markers. His nous and reading of attacking situations are what elevated him to a call-up to the full-Argentina squad back when he was a teenager in 2009, he now has 5 caps.

Anything else to add?

Not really, even though Salvio's potential is clearly there, he will have to mature further before a bigger club takes a genuine look at his availability, but he is definitely one to look out for.....

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