Scout Report, Nelson Semedo: Barcelona's long-term replacement for Dani Alves
Barcelona new boy Nelson Semedo is one of the hottest right-back prospects in the world right now. The six-time capped Portuguese international joined Benfica B in 2012 as an 18-year-old. He got promoted to the senior team at the age of 21 and has been a revelation since, catching the eye of the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United before moving to the Catalan giants earlier this month for €30.5 m on a five-year deal till 2022.
Dani Alves's departure from Barcelona left a massive hole in the right-back position and Semedo has been brought in as his long term successor.
Nelson Cabral Semedo was born on 16th November 1993 in Lisbon, Portugal. He did not come through any major academy, rather played for his local club Sintrense, in the third division where he made his senior appearance at the age of 17. His performances caught the eye of Benfica who scouted him and identified him as a talent that could make a breakthrough to the first team in the future.
He joined them on a free transfer in 2012 on a five-year deal and took his development to the next level. He was loaned out to third division side Fatima and then the young Portuguese made it to Benfica B where he featured regularly, making almost 60 appearances over 2 seasons. Semedo finally made his breakthrough to the first team in 2015 and cemented his place as a starter. He made 18 appearances in the first season for the Portuguese giants first team and his performances earned him a contract extension till 2021.
Style and Strengths
Nelson Semedo or "Nelsinho" is an offensive oriented wingback and loves to drive the ball forward by providing key passes and crosses at regular intervals. He has an incredible game reading ability which makes him very dangerous when his team are on the counter.
He is very good with the ball at his feet and can move past opponents with extreme ease. He is good at finding spaces and can often be seen assisting strikers and wingers by drifting inside and coolly avoiding marking in the final third to create pressure on the opponents.
Benfica's 4-4-2 formation has given the young fullback the license to develop his offensive game at his own free will and the team has largely benefited from it. Semedo is a player who commits himself totally to the team, both physically and mentally and can be trusted to do his job. He made 47 appearances last season, scoring 3 times and assisting a further 12 times for Benfica. During his stay in Lisbon, he won two league titles, Portuguese League Cup, Portuguese Super Cup and the Portuguese knockout Cup once.
Like many other young wing backs, Nelson Semedo has the problem of a lack of defensive ability as he concentrates a bit more on the offensive part of his game. In his initial days in the first team of Benfica, he had his fair share of defensive troubles. A bit rash on the tackle at times, especially when he's drawn inside, Semedo definitely needs to improve his defensive gameplay to ensure he has a long lasting and memorable tenure at the club else he might be shown the door with an able replacement for the Catalan giants.
There have been matches where he's succumbed to pressure and has cheaply lost the ball or displayed poor control in the game. He needs to mature and check his hot headedness which affects his gameplay.
The Portuguese international will be getting better conditions and better players to train with. Barcelona being Barcelona, they will keep Semedo on his toes as he knows that there is going to be very little room for error. He needs to be consistent and improve his gameplay in order to cement his place at the club.
Over the years, he will definitely be the starter at the right back position for the Portuguese national team as well.
To conclude, Semedo is one of the new fruits born out of the excellent youth set up in Portugal where players who begin their career in the lower divisions can dream of, and are, actually making it to the top clubs in the world today.