Jair Tavares first made the headlines in Portugal when Benfica gave him his first pro contract at the age of 16. Before committing his future to the Portuguese Tetracampeões, his flamboyant style had already sparked interest from big clubs across Europe such as Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. Unfortunately, the contract was not the main reason why he was on the cover of national sports newspapers, as comparisons to his cousin Renato Sanches were better for the media. His name only came in smaller letters while his relation to the former Golden Boy came in big, capital letters.
For the media and the traditional fans this was first seen as a signing based on nepotism because he was Renato’s cousin but it was quickly dismissed after highlights of his performances at the Alkass International Cup were all over social media.
– 1v1 ability
– Work rate
– Aerial duels
Style of play
Jair excells as a left winger but can play everywhere across the frontline, including behind the striker. He can provide width by hugging the touchline or position himself on the halfspaces in order to make quick combinations with teammates. Often lurking around and occupying gaps to offer a passing line, whether it be on the flanks or in central areas.
He thrives in 1v1 situations, with his electric and unpredictable style that kind of resembles Ronaldinho he easily beats opposition defenders with a variety of step-overs and body feints. On top of that, he is also very quick over long distances, making it nearly impossible to keep up with him.
The clip below perfectly summs up how difficult it is for opponents to defend him. His quick changes of direction and dribbling skills are simply phenomenal.
Very comfortable with his left-foot too, he can dribble to the byline to cross or find a cutback or cut inside onto his right and, if he has space, shoot from distance. His shots are often powerful and accurately placed, which makes it difficult for the goalkeeper to save.
His attitude regarding the defensive phase is also excellent. He’s willing to drop back and help the team regain possession, which is something many talented forwards struggle to do at this level.
Due to his height (currently standing at 5’6”) and skinny frame, aerial duels are a part of his game that need improvement. Despite being quite strong and often outmuscling opponents he will have to bulk up a bit once he makes the transition to the B team.
Jair Tavares is an amazingly talented player and, alongside Úmaro Embaló, is the U18 winger Benfica fans hope to see playing for the senior team and win titles – just like Renato – before they’re eventually snatched up by an European powerhouse. Despite the latter’s move to RB Leipzig sill being on the cards, one can dream of both being the Águias’s winger duo in a few years.