Antonio Silva: Benfica teen can become Liverpool's next Van Dijk

Jacque Talbot
Jacque Talbot
  • Updated: 13 Feb 2023 09:23 GMT
  • 4 min read
Antonio Silva for Benfica
© ProShots

Liverpool will look to bolster their central defence in the upcoming transfer window.

As we exclusively reported, Antonio Silva of Benfica is among their targets, along with Goncalo Inacio, Josko Gvardiol, and Jarrad Branthwaite.

Article continues under the video

Word is that FSG will hand Jurgen Klopp a significant sum for the summer, though a lack of the Champions League may hamper just how much the German receives.

READ MORE: Real Madrid make surprise approach for Liverpool boss Klopp

A fresh face in defence is sorely needed, given the capacious form of those featuring for Liverpool so far this campaign.

Virgil van Dijk has some years left in him yet, but Liverpool will be mindful of sourcing a replacement for the coming years. Silva makes perfect sense in that regard, while he is showing that he has the potential to reach a similar level.

Those are big words but the trajectory of Silva has been gobsmacking. He turned 19 years old last October but is already a regular starter for Roger Schmidt’s side, having played 27 games in all competitions in 2022/23. It’s been something of a breakout season for the teenager - last term he managed just four appearances for Benfica in their reserves setup.

He came out of the side’s academy, whose recent graduates include Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, Ruben Dias, Renato Sanches and Joao Cancelo.

Silva could represent a Van Dijk replacement
© ProShots - Silva could represent a Van Dijk replacement

When Schmidt was left with just one fit senior centre-back - former Manchester City player Nicolas Otamendi - he called up Silva for his side's meeting with Boavista on August 27.

The centre-back impressed almost immediately and has consequently found a place as one of the first names on the team sheet.

"Antonio is 18, but when you see him on the pitch, he doesn't look that age," Schmidt said of the player. "It was obvious in pre-season that he is a talented player and that he is already a professional player who is able to withstand the pressure playing for the Benfica first team, and he has shown it many times this season."

Silva, who has earned two Primeira Liga Defender of the Month awards this campaign, is a client of Jorge Mendes’ Gestifute, meaning that a move to the Premier League or any other elite European side would certainly be a possibility.

The defender will cost between €80-90 million, according to Fabrizio Romano, with his contract at Benfica not up until 2027.

The Portuguese youngster is very much a modern-day central defender. A capable tackler, being in the top 92 percentile with 2.13 tackles per 90 mins. He is also an astute passer, with a 92.3% completion rate, and a menace in attack - registering 0.15 non-penalty xG, which is in the top 99 percentile.

Silva is right-footed but has played 36% of his game on the left-side of defence this season.

Liverpool may face rival Silva bidders

Other Premier League clubs may be keen on Silva as well
© ProShots - Other Premier League clubs may be keen on Silva as well

Liverpool will face stiff competition, though. For example, such versatility will be hugely attractive to Graham Potter at Chelsea, who enjoyed the plethora of capabilities yielded by the likes of Adam Webster and Joel Veltman while he was at Brighton.

Manchester United have been linked to Silva as well, but Chelsea may hold the advantage, given the contingent of Portuguese players already at Stamford Bridge; Enzo Fernandez was playing regularly with his compatriot as soon as last month as well.

A sticking point for the Blues will be the fact Liverpool have a good relationship with Benfica following their deal for Darwin Nunez last summer.

In any case, everything points to another saga for the upcoming window, with Silva being Benfica’s biggest asset.

Never miss the next big transfer!

Get the latest transfer insights and analyses directly in your mailbox.