21 Midfielder Benfica Brazil
Talisca comes with the approval of Jose Mourinho, who said last year that there had been English clubs interested in bringing him to the Premier League from Brazil but that the lack of a work permit would’ve put paid to such an idea. It was a ringing endorsement and one that set Talisca up with a fair amount of pressure when he signed for SL Benfica.
He arrived there by way of the classic route: he played 30 league games for Bahia in 2013 and 2014 before heading straight for Europe and into a Benfica side where he’s been a regular ever since.
2015 has been…
Strangely disappointing. Prior to coach Jorge Jesus’ infamous departure he was playing as an attacking midfielder but in 2015/16 he’s been deployed much further back, playing right in the middle of the pitch and exposing the questionable work ethic that’s begun to rile some of Benfica’s vast base of supporters.
He’s not combative or destructive or even a noteworthy deep-lying playmaker but he’s sometimes a useful presence and he certainly has something about him when he does get involved. He’s able to keep it simple as a kind of fulcrum in the middle. He’s willing to take on an ambitious shot and offers a threat around the edge of the box, even if his shooting is a little rough and ready.
He’s always looking to pick up anything that drops into the hole but he wants to come on to those opportunities from midfield rather than occupying a position between the lines, meaning very often he’s not doing enough to make something happen for himself. He really looks the part when he’s in full flow: tall, languid and an elegant mover with a long stride and an ability to just drift around the midfield, putting himself in space.
That’s when he’s good. Sadly, there are times when it’s not totally clear what he’s there for. In some games he simply doesn’t have enough of an effect on the play. His passing is often neat and tidy but can be a bit slack and is very often lateral when the opposition makes life difficult for Benfica’s attacking players.
Talisca would benefit from doing more and thinking more. The ‘lazy’ label, as harsh as it is in his specific case, is incredibly difficult to shift once supporters have it in their minds. Vague links with Chelsea and Atletico Madrid won’t amount to much if he isn’t wanted at Benfica, so he’ll need to make the most of the chance to play himself into the fans’ affections, a chance he’s still afforded very regularly.
Back in April he found himself in hot water with the club for having a kickabout with his friends. It’s easy to wonder if we shouldn’t be allowing our players the freedom to be normal when the opportunity comes their way at 21, but the truth is that players like Talisca are expensive and they’re expected to look after themselves.
There are matches in which Talisca looks the business but his focus and maturity will need to settle down sooner rather than later. Mourinho might be a fan but a senior international debut seems a long way off at present.
D Plenty to prove
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