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Barcelona completed their second major transfer of the summer, after signing right-back Nelson Semedo from Portuguese champions SL Benfica for a fee of €30million (Goal)
The 23-year old Portuguese international, who had also emerged as a target for Premier League giants Manchester United, was one of the most consistent performers for Benfica last season. Semedo finished the 2016/17 campaign with a tally of 2 goals and 12 assists from 47 matches in all competitions.
The right-back position was one of the biggest issues for the Catalans last season and new manager Ernesto Valverde has made sure it has been addressed before the beginning of their pre-season campaign. With Semedo officially a Barcelona player now, let’s take a look at what he will be able to offer to his new club.
Born in Lisbon, Portugal, on 16 November 1993, Semedo began his career at Portuguese club Sintrense and made his first team debut for the club as a 17-year old only. He went on to make 26 appearances for the club. Impressed by his abilities, Benfica snapped him up on a five-year contract in 2012. He was immediately loaned out to third-tier club Fatima for the 2012-13 campaign.
Upon returning, he was made a part of the Benfica B team and he made his debut for the side in August 2013, in the Portuguese Segunda Liga. Over the next two seasons, he went on to make 59 appearances, managing 2 goals and 6 assists in that duration.
In the summer of 2015, Semedo signed a new contract with Benfica, extending his stay till 2021 and was bumped up to the first-team. He made his senior debut in August 2015, in the Super Cup game against Sporting Lisbon. A week later, he made his Primeira Liga bow against Estoril and scored in the 4-0 win.
Having established himself firmly in the starting XI, he was called up to national duty for Portugal in October 2015, for a UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier, where he made his debut against Serbia, but suffered a horrible knee injury during training, due to which he missed close to three months of action. Returning from injury in January, he lost his place in the senior side due to some poor displays and finished the season in the B team.
He regained his place in the 2016-17 campaign and went on to become one of the most crucial members of the Benfica side, helping them to a league and cup double. His displays earned him the Portuguese League Breakthrough Player of the Year award.
Semedo was part of the Portugal side that finished third in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and has made 6 appearances so far for the Seleccao. Barcelona completed his signing earlier this week.
A modern day full-back in all sense, Semedo is primarily a right-sided player but can slot in as a left-back too, while he can play in an advanced role down the right flank as well.
Always on the prowl to romp forward, the 23-year old’s biggest strength is his dribbling and that too at speed. Last season, no other defender attempted (105) or completed (49) as many dribbles as Semedo. He may not be the biggest goal threat, but with his attacking intent, he almost operates as an additional winger down the right-hand side.
Pace in abundance, extremely quick feet, intelligent movement backed up with quality end product, Semedo has all the traits expected of a full-back and creates chances in great numbers for his teammates.
His defensive side of the game has always been under the scanner, with his positional sense and awareness to danger being questioned. But he has worked hard on that and last season, he did not make a single defensive error that led to an attempt on goal. A dogged defender with great attacking vigour, Semedo is a very good modern day full-back.
Having lost Dani Alves last summer, Barcelona have been suffering in the right-back department. Aleix Vidal spent the entire season on the treatment tables. Sergi Roberto did a decent job, but he is much more at home in the middle of the park.
With Semedo in their ranks, this issue will be resolved completely. He may not be the next “Dani Alves”, but expect him to strike up an excellent partnership down the right flank with Leo Messi.