Xtra Analysis: Florentino Luis

Manchester City are said to be interested in one of Portugal’s brightest young prospects, Florentino Luis of Benfica. The 19 year-old defensive midfielder is said to be one of the hottest prospects to come from this dazzling young Benfica side. He is even likened and touted to have a higher ceiling than the coveted Joao Felix for future world class potential. Whether City will opt to sign him at such a young age and lack of first team experience remains to be seen, but from looking into his numbers from games he has played this season, he may be one to keep an eye on should city decide to bring him to Manchester.

Standing at six feet tall, Florentino is clearly above average for your normal teenager. He has played eight games in the Liga NOS this season, two of which were as a substitute, and made three appearances in the Europa League this debut season at the Estadio de Luz.

Benfica have became famous for their youth talent and their constant ability to produce world class talent for the future generations through their youth setup. They allow the youth to be brought through at such a young age to play in the first team that almost every year they have a new exciting talent in transfer headlines. From this, they also have constructed a great business model, implementing a system of signing these youth products to professional contracts with extremely high buyout clauses. This allows Benfica to get a massive fee for the player because they value them at these high numbers and don’t budge or negotiate upon these prices.

This year alone, Benfica have brought through many players who have been consistently performing to a high level in the Liga NOS and have now been gathering headlines as a new breed of Portuguese player ready to take the national team forward from their Euros win in 2016. Joao Felix is, or should be, a household name by now with the stats and performances he is putting in for this team – it is obvious why PSG, Juve, Real Madrid are sniffing around him alongside with City themselves.

Also in their breakout season with Felix are other names, who will be ones to watch for the future such as Ferro and Jota. Each of these players are also tied down to these contracts which adhere to the Benfica setup and system, yet with Bernardo Silva already a fan, it may only be a matter of time before one makes the trip to east Manchester.

Florentino comes under the same category and falls into this system as well, being a youth product with very low amount of games under his belt. His value is consequently set by his £52million buyout clause, which from outside would seem to be ridiculous seeing he has a mere 10 games to his name.

However, when we look at how he has played in these matches, it’s clear to see why he is getting the headlines already. In the total eight Liga NOS appearances this year, mostly in this latter half of the season, he has pass success rate of 90%. Making over 46 passes a game, with 1.0 long balls per match. That is the highest success rate for the entire league, and it is the third most passes per game for any midfielder in his team.

In his Europa League games, he also has a 91% pass success rate and compares similarly to Manchester City’s Fernandinho with 0.7 key passes per game to Ferna’s 0.8 also holding onto the ball well, being dispossessed only 0.7 times on average in those three games. Luis has 1 goal to his name and has a great touch when thrown the ball in a congested central position, with 0.5 bad touches a game on average.

His defensive stats are also some of the best in the Portuguese league, managing a whopping 4.0 tackles per game, the best in his league and a massive 3.3 interceptions as well, also the highest in his league. Numbers like this for a player so young are unprecedented. Only Idrissa Gueye has more tackles per game and no player with over 15 league games has more interceptions in Europe’s top five leagues.

Even from scoring one goal already this season, his attacking prowess is possibly his only questionable side to his game. He has only 0.1 key passes a game in the league compared to Fernandinho’s 0.8 and 0.5 of the recently linked Rodrigo from Atletico Madrid. However, in his three Europa League appearances, he averaged 0.7 per match. In many aspects of his game, he is quite similar to Rodri, a similar pass percentage (Rodri: 90%), low amount of bad touches and times dispossessed (Rodri: 0.8, 0.6) and a high amount of tackles and interceptions (Rodri: 3.2, 1.2). However, in a league that is seen as below the standard of a top European side, it is understandable the hesitation and scepticism from all these teams fans over such a high price tag for an majorly untested player.

That as well will be the problem for Txiki and Pep. The sample size of his work is so small and is yet to be fully evaluated. However, he may gain some good winning experience as he looks set to be a Liga NOS champion should Benfica continue winning ways for the remainder of their season. Although he has made many appearances for the Benfica youth team and represented Portugal from the under 15’s upwards in youth setup 68 times, he still is a raw talent who has yet to prove anything. Spending the big money on a prospect like this really is a gamble. The Portuguese league is known for getting high prices but not always the right asset as shown recently from 2016 Golden Boy winner Renato Sanches. However when looking at Florentino’s numbers, it’s easy to see why he is being lined up and touted to be a world class talent. 

Should the Citizens staff decide upon taking the gamble, it may well reap one of the best rewards possible. However this diamond is yet to be appraised and may well need time to monitor just how high his level is before taking a charge for this massive potential players signature.

You can follow the author on Twitter here: @CianGWalsh

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