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Liverpool Opinion: Benfica starlet linked with a world-record move to Anfield

According to the Metro, Liverpool have opened negotiations with Benfica over a potential world-record transfer move for 21-year-old centre-back Francisco Reis Ferreira in the summer, with Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund also interested in the Portuguese youth international.

Ferreira made his senior first-team debut last month and has established himself as a mainstay in Bruno Lage’s side, catching the eyes of several top clubs across Europe with his consistently impressive performances at the back.

The Record claims that Liverpool have been monitoring Ferreira for quite a while and the Reds had made a move to take the youngster on loan with an option to buy him permanently for £10million back in 2017, only to see their offer turned down by Benfica.

However, Liverpool will have to shatter their own club-record fee of £75 million which they paid for Virgil van Dijk if the Reds want to sign Ferreira in the summer, with the player recently putting pen to paper on a new contract with a mammoth release clause of £85 million.

With some of the elite clubs across Europe lining up a big-money move for the youngster, let us take a closer look at one of Benfica’s most highly-rated prospects- Francisco Reis Ferreira.

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Background

Born in the city of Oliveira de Azeméis, Porto, Portugal, Ferreira joined the Benfica youth system in 2011 and was promoted to the reserve team in the 2015-16 season.

After his impressive displays for the reserve team, Ferreira was promoted to Benfica’s first team in February 2019 and he made his debut as a substitute in a 2-1 victory over Sporting CP in the semi-finals of the Taca de Portugal. Ferreira scored his first goal in his first start for Benfica, netting the sixth in a 10-0 drubbing of Nacional in the Primeira Liga.

The 21-year-old has been able to replicate his amazing displays in the Europa League as well, scoring in victories over Galatasaray in the Round of 32 followed by the winner against Dynamo Zagreb in the second leg of the Round of 16 tie.

Ferreira has won a total of 51 caps for Portugal at all youth levels, including 8 at the U21 level.

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Style of Play

Standing at 6ft. 4 inches with a towering frame, Ferreira ia very much a physically dominating centre-half who excels with his aerial ability. He has a good jump and gets off the ground quickly to beat his offensive counterparts to the aerial balls inside the box.

Despite being tall and strong, Ferreira is very sharp and agile for a centre-back of his stature. He has shown amazing game-reading ability, both in the air and off the ground, which allows him to cut out attacks effortlessly. Truth be told, Ferreira hasn’t looked like a 21-year-old rookie playing in his first season at the senior level, with his high levels of awareness and astute positioning at the back making him look like an impenetrable wall at the heart of the defence.

Ferreira has also impressed with his decision-making and composure, knowing exactly when to slide in, whilst preferring to stay on his feet and intercept on other occasions. To add to that, the Portuguese starlet is blessed with exceptional ball-playing qualities, calm in possession and adept at playing the ball out from the back with his range of passing. He often tends to switch the play with his pinpoint long-passing, which is certainly another valuable asset in his CV.

The 21-year-old averages 57.2 passes per game with an accuracy percentage of 88.5, including 5.2 successful long balls, 1.8 tackles, 1.6 interceptions and 3.8 clearances per game in the Liga NOS this term, figures which speak volumes of his well-rounded attributes as a central defender.

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What does the future hold?

Ferreira has already shown strong signs of excellence and is currently enjoying a wonderful breakout season in the Primeira Liga. However, he is still very much inexperienced at the highest level and a move to the Premier League would be a massive jump for him both in terms of quality and intensity.

£85 million might be a bit too much for Liverpool to splash on a relatively unproven talent but Jurgen Klopp has definitely seen something in the player which has prompted the Reds to open negotiations. If the move does eventually materialise for Ferreira, he will have to compete with the likes of established players like Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip.

Given that neither Matip nor Lovren has looked particularly solid during their time at Anfield, Liverpool might just consider making a move for Ferreira to increase competition for places alongside van Dijk at the heart of the defence.

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The 21-year-old definitely has the potential to make the grade at Liverpool and it shouldn’t be surprising to see him don the famous red jersey for years to come if the Merseyside giants manage to land him in the summer.

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