João Felix departure takes Benfica player sales under Luis Filipe Vieira to over one billion euros
In 2003, Luis Filipe Vieira was elected the president of Benfica for the very first time. Sixteen years and a certain João Felix later, Benfica have broken the 1 billion euro barrier for player sales alone under his stewardship.
Benfica have built a reputation for developing youth and selling them on for substantial money, but the latest sale of Felix to Atletico Madrid has taken that to a whole new level.
His move of 120 million euros to Atletico is as outrageous as it is impressive, and has already taken their income on player departures for this year alone to approximately 180 million euros, with Felix’s sale following on from the €38million departure of Raul Jimenez to Wolves and the income generated as a result of the Jovic transfer from Frankfurt to Real Madrid (approximately €16million of which is going straight to Benfica on top of the €7M they received for Jovic directly from Frankfur back in January).
But those sales are only following on from a long stretch of impressive business from Benfica over the last couple of decades, even before Luis Filipe Vieira arrived - Nuno Gomes moving to Fiorentina for 17 million euros in 2000, for example.
But focusing solely on the Vieira era, which started back in October 2003, a monstrous €1030million - or €1.030billion - has been raised from player sales, the first highly substantial sale perhaps being Tiago to Chelsea in 2004 for €15M.
That kick-started a trend and, over the subsequent years, more and more players departed for serious cash. Take 2007-08, for example, where both Simao and Manuel Fernandes departed to Spain for €20M and €18M to Atletico Madrid and Valencia respectively.
A couple of seasons after that, we then saw the Brazilian duo of David Luiz and Ramires depart together to Chelsea, bringing in a combined €48million as Luiz moved on for €25M and Ramires for approximately €22M. Both excellent players, who ultimately went on to have very good careers abroad to prove that they were worth the outlay.
That same season, we also saw Angel Di Maria leave, the Argentine costing even more than both of Luiz and Ramires, providing Benfica with an income of an additional 33 million euros as he exchanged Lisbon for Madrid.
And yet this is only scratching the surface of the incredible talent to pass through - and leave - Benfica under Vieira’s reign. For example, in 2011, Coentrao then followed Di Maria to Real Madrid, costing a total of €32M.
The following campaign, Javi Garcia then left for €20M, joining an up-and-coming Manchester City side, while Axel Witsel moved on in the same season, joining Zenit for a huge €40million, a then transfer record for a player departing Benfica.
That then brings us to the 2014-15 season, which brought in a total of €104million for Benfica from player departures - the first time in the club’s history that they had made over 100 million euros from player sales alone in a single campaign.
That season, Benfica sold Enzo Perez and Lazar Markovic for €25M apiece to Valencia and Liverpool respectively, in addition to Bernardo Silva (to Monaco) and Jan Oblak (to Atletico Madrid) for a combined €32million, the latter two well and truly going on to more than exceed expectations.
The trend of player sales didn’t end in 2015-16 either, when the trio of Rodrigo, Andre Gomes and Joao Cancelo all left for Valencia, Rodrigo for €30M, Gomes for €20M, and Cancelo for €15M. While not quite on the same scale as the season before, those three players alone managed to generate 65 million euros in cash alone, and that’s not to mention Ivan Cavaleiro, who cost Monaco an additional €15M in that same summer transfer window.
But, if those two previous seasons seemed impressive, you’ve not seen anything yet. Indeed, the 2016-17 campaign is certainly where things hit another level, with Benfica bringing in a startling €115M on player sales alone. Both Goncalo Guedes and Nico Gaitan departed, giving Benfica an additional €55million between them, the former costing PSG €30million, while Atletico Madrid paid €25M for the latter. Golden Boy Renato Sanches then brought in €35million, a fee that is set to increase much further based on particular achievements being fulfilled, while Helder Costa also joined Wolves for €15M in that same season.
And Benfica then topped their sales again the next season in 2017-18, when they brought in a total of €130M overall, thanks a big part to the sale of Ederson to Manchester City for €40M, Lindelof to Manchester United for €35M, and Nelson Semedo to Barcelona for another €35M.
And this season has yet again set an entirely new bar for money acquired from player sales. With João Felix to be sold for 120 million euros, added to the money made by the sale of Raul Jimenez and Jovic, Benfica have made over €180M this season alone - a new record.
Benfica’s Top 15 sales under Luis Filipe Vieira:
1. João Felix (to Atletico Madrid) - €120M
2. Axel Witsel (to Zenit) - €40M
=. Ederson (to Manchester City) - €40M
4. Raul Jimenez (to Wolves) - €38M
5. Nelson Semedo (to Barcelona) - €36M
6. Victor Lindelof (to Manchester United) - €35M
=. Renato Sanches (to Bayern Munich) - €35M
8. Angel Di Maria (to Real Madrid) - €33M
9. Fabio Coentrao (to Real Madrid) - €30M
=. Rodrigo (to Valencia) - €30M
=. Goncalo Guedes (to PSG) - €30M
12. Nemanja Matic (to Manchester United) - €28M
13. Nico Gaitan (to Atletico Madrid) - €25M
=. Enzo Perez (to Valencia) - €25M
=. David Luiz (to Chelsea) - €25M
=. Lazar Markovic (to Liverpool) - €25M
17. Ramires (to Chelsea) - €23M
18. Javi Garcia (to Manchester City) - €20M
=. Andre Gomes (to Valencia) - €20M
=. Simão (to Atletico Madrid) - €20M