Nelson Oliveira: Scout Report
When Edison Cavani made a move to PSG, and Falcao to Monaco, many assumed that the league’s top scorers will perpetually be the two newbies alongside a certain Swedish teammate of Cavani. However, 12 games in, the French league is benefiting from the exploits of other men too, namely Riviere, Cvitanich, Djordjevic and a certain Benfica loanee to Rennes- Nelson Oliveira.
Oliveira started out at Sporting Braga’s youth ranks, and moved to the country’s most successful club, Benfica aged 15 in 2006. Manager Quique Flores gave the 17 year old Oliveira an insight into the first team by playing him in a friendly against G.D. Estoril Praia in the 2008-09 season. He also featured for the club on the bench in the UEFA Super Cup against Napoli. But that was it. His first shot in the first team when he was loaned out till June to Rio Ave in February (2010). He went on to make 10 appearances for the club. The original agreement between Benifica and Rio Ave was altered when Rio Ave wanted to procure the young rising star’s services for 6 more months. But the club, on 12 August 2010, decided to loan him out to F.C. Paços de Ferreira for the entirety of the 2010-11 season.
Oliveira went on to score on his debut for ‘Os Castores’. Oliveira was brought on as a sub to the injured Rondon in the 6th minute. The young Portugese showed to the club just why they had acquired his services by finding the the net in the 32nd minute from a Caetano pass. This goal gave Rui Vitória the confidence to start the young lad in the next four matches. And the Portuguese striker affirmed his coach’s faith by scoring the winning goal from a direct free kick against Naval in the 50th minute. Oliveira managed to score seven times that season for Ferreira featuring in the team 30 times in all competitions, nineteen times as a substitute.
He returned to his parent club the following season and on 14 October 2011 Oliveira made his official debut for Benfica in the Portuguese Cup, playing 45 minutes in a match that the club won 2–0. At the end of the season, Oliveira had scored no goals but grabbed two assists in the league. However, his lack of goal-scoring was could be attributed to the fact that he only featured for the club 12 times with 10 of those, as a substitute. In the Portuguese League Cup, the striker scored twice for the club in five matches. However, his real moment of glory in a comparatively dry season for his club came when he made his Champions League debut as a substitute against Zenit. Although Benfica was already leading the game 1-0, Oliveira put the nail in the coffin by netting the ball ten minutes after he came on and progressing with Benfica qualifying to the last eight, 4–3 on aggregate.
Again, not establishing himself firmly in the Benfica squad, the management decided to loan him out to Deportivo de La Coruna. A pleasing opening to his spell at the Riazor saw him netting two goals in his first four games. However, he fell behind veteran striker Riki and was used as a substitute almost throughout the season (out of the 30 appearances he made in the League, 28 were as a substitute). Oliveira scored 4 goals for the Brancoazuis in that loan spell.
Returning to Benfica at the end of the season, supporters put forward their desire for keeping the young star in the club that season. Benfiquista fans were disappointed to say the least when the management decided to loan him out to French side Rennes for a season long move. Oliveira has made 12 appearances for The Black and Reds this season and has found the net an astonishing seven times already.
The Portuguese striker had an impressive outing for the Portuguese under-20 side at the Under 20 World Cup. His four goals and two assists fired his nation to the tournament’s final. He received the man of the match award twice and also received the ‘Silver Ball’ for the second best player in the competition.
Oliveira has gone on to represent Portugal in the senior team 14 times. He was a surprise inclusion in the 2012 Euros, where he tasted action from the bench. He has managed to score only once, his goal coming in a friendly against Panama.
Style, strengths and weaknesses:
Dubbed as the next Eric Cantona in some quarters of Portugal due to a perceived similarity in playing styles, Oliveira is a threatening attacker who is usually quick off the mark. The 22 year old possesses first-class technique and the capability of passing and distributing the ball intelligently among his teammates. The forward has a handy defensive presence when required.
He also has the amazing attribute of dropping deep and supporting the midfield. He often interchanges positions with a strike companion or an attacking midfielder which only adds on to his team’s flexibility and threat.
From a 0-5 win at Toulouse where he scored twice. Dropped deep on many occasions.
He has great aptitude and consciousness on the ball in the final third and his neat footwork sees him beating defenders easily. Despite leading the team in front of the goal, like a good centre midfielder, Oliveira possesses the skills to open up the tightest of defences. His quick presence of mind makes it possible for him to play quick one-twos with his teammate on a regular basis.