A total of fifteen clubs had a scouting presence at last night’s ‘Derby de Lisboa’ between Benfica and Sporting CP, the two clubs battling FC Porto for this season’s Primeira Liga in Portugal.
From England the list was long, with A Bola confirming that Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham, Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea all had representatives in the stands.
Others with their eyes on two clubs known to be hotbeds of talent were Bayern Munich, Juventus, Eibar, Troyes and even Grasshopper from Switzerland.
A number of highly-rated players were on display in the 1-1 draw, which did neither club much good in closing the gap on leaders Porto, who won away at Feirense on the same night.
From a City point of view, three players previously linked with the club featured, and perhaps it was one of those that the club scout had his eyes on.
William Carvalho, the sturdy Sporting midfielder, his teammate Gelson Martins, and Benfica left-back Álex Grimaldo all played, with winger Martins on the scoresheet for the visitors.
It is perhaps Grimaldo who, of the three, would be most suited to City, having trained in Barcelona’s La Masia. The 22-year-old played up a ‘good relationship’ with Pep Guardiola earlier this year, and with City relying only on Fabian Delph as a left-back with Benjamin Mendy out long-term, he could be an option if Guardiola makes a move this month.
City had recruited from Portugal without much success in recent years, with Javi Garcia, Eliaquim Mangala, Fernando Reges failing to live up to their hype. However, the trend was broken last summer with the acquisition of Ederson Moraes from Benfica, the £34.9million goalkeeper who is quickly establishing himself as one of the best in the Premier League.
Could another player from Benfica or perhaps rivals Sporting be on City’s radar?