Football

Caixa Futebol Campus.

Inside Benfica's state-of-the-art Caixa Futebol Campus

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Manchester United will see out a lacklustre season on Sunday, unable to clinch a top four spot with one game remaining.

With little to nothing left to play for, one eye will be firming on the upcoming transfer window where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping to rejuvenate the squad.

And one man who could be making the move to Old Trafford this summer is Benfica wonder-kid Joao Felix who has already been talked about as the next £100 million player.

The 19-year-old has hit the ground running for the senior side this season and is one of the many talents produced by Benfica’s world-class academy set-up.

And it all stems from the introduction of the Caixa Futebol Campus.

Opened in 2006 by Eusebio, the campus stages nine pitches and provides 20 dressing rooms to 65 children.

It doesn’t stop there either as it also includes two auditoriums, three state-of-the-art gyms and a simulator so players can work on their techniques.

The ‘36OS simulator’ is described to be similar to Borussia Dortmund’s Footbonaut but Benfica cranked it up a level by including robotic players.

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The upcoming academy hopefuls are put to the test, whether that be through reaction speeds or execution.

And in January 2018, sports writer Alex Clapham dived a little deeper. He spoke to Benfica’s under-15 head coach at the time Luis Nascimento who had just seen his side crowned champions for the fourth time in six seasons.

That fact alone shows what an impact this football centre has had on the club.

Nascimento, who is now in charge of the Under-19s, said: “Youth football is a fundamental area for Benfica, with sporting, social and financial benefits.

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“We do not talk exclusively about ‘training’, we refer also to ‘educating’.

“The academic performance of our players is monitored and encouraged at all levels.

“The mission is to guarantee the quality of technical training and educational enrichment of players of all age groups, with a focus on the integration into the first-team, promoting human values such as respect, responsibility, solidarity, justice and tolerance.”

Since the introduction of the campus, Benfica have quickly become a feeder club to big names all over the world.

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Ederson joined the club at 15-years-old and is now on the brink of winning the Premier League with Manchester City.

The same can also be said for Ederson’s City team-mate Bernardo Silva who spent over a decade with Benfica before moving to Monaco.

The list extends to names such as Renato Sanches, Andre Gomes, Nelson Semedo and Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof.

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And Nascimento also added that Benfica's teaching of life skills has helped current stars progress:

“Look at Ederson of Manchester City. When he came to me he was just a lad from the favelas, too scared to leave his own penalty area. Now he takes bigger risks than anybody in the Premier League.

“Bernardo Silva is top as well. We sold him to Monaco and after a few weeks he was speaking French on TV, he’s an example. This club gives the boys life skills to grow.”

Losing top names is never good for a club but Benfica don’t seem to mind as they sit top of the standings in the Primeira Liga, on the brink of winning the title for a record 37th time.

Topics:
Football
Victor Lindelof
Ederson Santana de Moraes
Bernardo Silva
Manchester United

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