Described as one of "Europe's most efficient player factories", the Benfica Campus takes center stage in a report in the prestigious "Wall Street Journal" (WSJ).
"Led by youth academies like Benfica's, Portugal, a country of 10 million people, wastes no talent", highlights that US journal.
"In essence, this is a soccer school", summarizes Pedro Marques, director of Benfica Campus. "We teach the letters, the words, and the sentences, and we expect them to write some poems in the future", summarizes the person responsible for supervising all the development of the young players.
At Benfica, tells the WSJ, "this education has several forms". "For the most promising kids, it's a boarding school - 89 of them live here full-time, attend classes in the morning and train in the afternoon. The number of applicants, however, is much higher", it adds.
"After about eight years of work, the most important thing is to give opportunities to some of our young players in the first team", says Benfica's coach, Bruno Lage.
Benfica Campus, "in essence, exists to create value", emphasizes Pedro Marques. "Which may mean creating players for the first team - which, by contrast, means not having to spend money on signings", highlights the WSJ.
"Last season, the players nurtured at the Club represented almost 30% of the minutes played and formed the backbone of the winning team of the 2018-19 Championship", stresses the journal.
The mission of discovering promising players and potential talent is sensitive and special. "At Benfica, this work is carried out by almost 200 people", details the WSJ.
"Some of them are paid, others are informers, others are just fans who are happy to be out on Sunday morning in the rain to watch a U-10 or U-12 game to find out who has the most potential", explains Pedro Marques.
"In addition to its academy in Seixal, Benfica has five regional centers in a country smaller than Ohio to enable promising youngsters to train closer to home - this is how it found the youngster Bernardo Silva", recalls the WSJ.
Several players nurtured at the Club compete in this edition of the Champions League, remembers the WSJ, highlighting names such as João Félix (Atletico Madrid) - "dismissed by FC Porto, became a star at Benfica's academy"." –, Ederson, Bernardo Silva and João Cancelo (Manchester City).
"Seixal is so prestigious that Madonna moved nearby in 2018 to support her son, who was born in Malawi, during his time at the academy", marks the report.
Photos: SL Benfica