The 10 most expensive Benfica sales of all time, featuring big-money Liverpool and Chelsea signings

Chelsea's Enzo Fernandez, Atletico's Joao Felix and Liverpool's Darwin Nunez. TEAMtalk montage.

While Benfica often struggle to keep hold of their star players, they’ve always managed to make a huge return on their investments.

Joao Neves is currently their most prized asset and TEAMtalk understands that Manchester United and Chelsea are interested in the midfielder, who has a €120million release clause in his contract. 

We’ve taken a look at the 10 most expensive sales in Benfica’s history and how those players fared after leaving the club. Note: we’ve used initial transfer fees and have not taken into account any potential add-ons.

Goncalo Ramos has also been left out, although his loan deal at Paris Saint-Germain will become a permanent move in the summer of 2024.

10. Nelson Semedo – €30.5m

Semedo established himself in the Benfica first team in the 2016/17 season and won the Primeira Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year award.

The right-back left Benfica for Barcelona in a deal worth an initial €30.5million and was billed as Dani Alves’ long-term successor.

He made 124 appearances in all competitions during his time at Camp Nou, winning two La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey.

But the Portugal international got torn to shreds in that 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in 2020 and was shipped off to Wolves a few weeks later.

9= Victor Lindelof – €35m

Lindelof won three Primeira Liga titles at Benfica before completing a €35million move to Manchester United in the summer of 2017.

He has made over 200 appearances for the club but hasn’t picked up much silverware, winning just one League Cup in six-and-half years at Old Trafford.

The 29-year-old centre-back – who Paul Scholes recently described as “lazy” and “weak” – is currently behind Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez in Erik ten Hag’s pecking order.

Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane

Man Utd defenders Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane

9= Renato Sanches – €35m

A Benfica academy graduate, Sanches enjoyed a brilliant breakthrough season in 2015/16 and was also part of the Portugal side that won the UEFA European Championship.

Bayern Munich fought off competition from Manchester United and agreed to pay Benfica an initial €35million and another €45million in performance-related add-ons.

But Benfica didn’t receive that additional money as the midfielder failed to live up to expectations in Germany, making just 35 Bundesliga appearances.

He had a disastrous loan spell at Swansea City in the 2017/18 season before joining Ligue 1 side Lille in a €20million deal in 2019.

7. Raul Jimenez – €38m

After scoring just 18 goals in 80 Primeira Liga appearances, Jimenez was deemed surplus to requirements by Benfica in 2018.

He agreed to join Wolves on a season-long loan deal, which was made permanent for €38million in the summer of 2019.

The Mexico international registered 27 goals and 10 assists in all competitions in 2019/20 and won Wolves’ Player of the Year award.

But he suffered a serious head injury in November 2020 and netted just 13 goals during his final three seasons at Molineux.

6= Axel Witsel – €40m

Witsel began his career with Standard Liege in his native Belgium and was snapped up by Benfica for just €10million in 2011.

He enjoyed a brilliant debut season in Portugal and reportedly attracted interest from Real Madrid, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.

But Zenit St Petersburg won the race for his signature in 2012 after triggering the €40million release clause in his Benfica contract.

The midfielder made 180 appearances for the Russian side and picked up three trophies before joining Chinese outfit Tianjin Quanjian in January 2017.

6= Ederson – €40m

After joining Benfica in a €500,000 deal in 2015, Ederson usurped Julio Cesar and established himself as one of the most highly-rated young goalkeepers in the world.

His impressive performances caught the attention of Manchester City, who paid €40million for his signature in the summer of 2017.

He has been integral to City’s success under Pep Guardiola, helping them win five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, four EFL Cups, the Champions League and a UEFA Super Cup.

The Brazil international, who is renowned for his ability with the ball at his feet, has also picked up three Premier League Golden Gloves.

4. Ruben Dias – €68m

Dias came through the ranks at Benfica and followed in Ederson’s footsteps in 2020 by joining Manchester City in a deal worth an initial €68million and another €3.6million in add-ons.

He made an immediate impact and was named the Premier League’s Player of the Year and UEFA’s Defender of the Year in 2020/21.

The centre-back has also helped City win three successive Premier League titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup, the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup.

“He is the type of player similar to Vinny [Kompany], where it is not about how he plays himself,” Guardiola told reporters in March 2023.

“Ruben is not just playing his game, he is playing the game for everyone. He has the ability to see and solve problems for many, many things. His character is so important.”

3. Darwin Nunez – €75m

Nunez joined Benfica in 2020 but shot to prominence in the 2021/22 season, managing a fantastic return of 34 goals from 41 appearances in all competitions.

Liverpool shelled out an initial €75million and another €25million in performance-related add-ons in order to bring the striker to Anfield.

Since arriving at Anfield, he has struggled with inconsistency and has missed more than his fair share of gilt-edged opportunities.

But the 24-year-old Uruguay international, who is yet to establish himself in Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI, still has an impressive minutes-per-goal ratio in England.

2. Enzo Fernandez – €121m

Fernandez joined Benfica from River Plate in a €14million deal in the summer of 2022, but he spent just six months in Portugal.

After winning the 2022 World Cup and picking up the Young Player of the Tournament Award, the Argentina international became Chelsea’s top target in the January transfer window.

The Blues triggered the €121million release clause in his contract, making him the most expensive player in Premier League history.

While he’s jet to justify that huge price tag, the 22-year-old has shown glimpses of his quality and will be a mainstay of Chelsea’s midfield for many years to come.

1. Joao Felix – €126m

Felix enjoyed a stunning breakthrough season at Benfica in 2018/19 and picked up the prestigious Golden Boy award, which recognises the best young player in Europe.

Despite the fact that he only had one season of first-team football under his belt, Atletico Madrid agreed to pay €126million for the forward in 2019 as they looked to replace Antoine Griezmann.

But he struggled to express himself in Diego Simeone’s demanding system, scoring just 34 goals in 131 appearances in all competitions.

The Portugal international spent the second half of the 2022/23 campaign on loan at Chelsea before joining Barcelona on a season-long loan deal.

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