Jan Oblak 20 Goalkeeper Benfica Slovenia
2013 has been…
Very positive. Since arriving at Benfica from Olimpija as a seventeen-year-old goalkeeper of some repute in 2010, Jan Oblak has had his share of loan moves elsewhere. Beira-Mar, Olhanense and União Leiria have all benefited from his services over a short-term period, but only the latter provided any actual game time.
That situation changed in the summer of 2012 when Oblak was loaned out once more, this time to Rio Ave, with the pre requisite inserted by Benfica that he must play. It didn’t take long for that clause become something of an irrelevance.
Making his debut for the Vila do Conde club on 27 August 2012 in the intimidating surrounds of Sporting’s Estádio José Alvalade, Oblak remained undaunted and, more importantly, unbeaten as Rio secured a superb 1-0 victory at Benfica’s fierce rivals. Oblak’s excellent performance was noted by his parent club, and no doubt enjoyed immensely.
However, the Oblak show didn’t stop just there, nor was his performance a one off. A second clean sheet followed less than a week later as Académica Coimbra were despatched at the Estádio do Rio Ave, again with Oblak in fine form.
And so continued a trend that went on throughout the 2012-13 season as Oblak’s reflex saves and general command of his area helped his team secure a seventh place finish, a position the club have only bettered once in the last thirty years.
While a temptation existed to allow Oblak to go on loan again, Benfica have resisted and have instead kept their young keeper much closer to home as a joint understudy (alongside Paulo Lopes) to Artur Moraes. A similar situation exists at full international level, with Oblak positioning himself as deputy to Inter’s Samir Handanovič for Slovenia.
A waiting game. Oblak has proved his credentials as one of the outstanding young goalkeepers in world football and despite a contractual mix up in the summer (which almost allowed a raft of clubs in to snap up the young custodian); he very much represents the future of Benfica.
For some talented young goalkeepers, remaining on the sidelines for both club and country would be overwhelmingly frustrating, which it may well be for Jan Oblak, but it is because he IS that good that he knows to sit tight.
Contracted to the Estádio da Luz club until 2018, it won’t be long until Oblak steps in for Moraes (32) and displaces Lopes (35) permanently as his nearest challengers. Handanovič may represent a more significant challenge at international level, but at this stage it is very clear where Oblak is heading and we expect him to enjoy a very long and very decorated career.
"Outstanding on loan at Rio Ave last season, and after a protracted stand-off involving all sorts of agent silliness eventually signed a four-year new contract with Benfica. He's playing in the cup this season, and barring something unexpected will be a starter within the next 2 years. Either at Benfica or elsewhere..." - Ben Shave, Portugoal
"Jan Oblak (6 in 28 apps) kept more league clean sheets in 2012/13 than Artur Boruc, Julio Cesar and Timo Hildebrand." - Opta
C+ Bide your time, it will come