Diogo Nascimento by Helner
“He has technique, he is intelligent, he is a crack! BUT… he lacks body! And note that I do not want to look like one of those who defend this idea! But at the senior level and in that position it is necessary.”
When I upload a compilation of one of Tiago Dantas’ performances, most of the reactions I receive are like this one. One, of many, that are delighted with the player’s quality “but do not think they will adapt to professional football because they do not have the desired physical characteristics.”
In a club as good as Benfica in terms of youth development, it is understood that we should value more the players’ technical and cognitive qualities than the physical ones. Be it in previous generations, which had players like Bernardo Silva or João Félix or in newer generations in which the players are taking their first steps in professional football. In a few years, players such as Diogo Nascimento, Ronaldo Camará or João Neves will be the targets of these comments and I’m sure they will be able to handle them because, when it comes to talent, they are giants.
As for Diogo Nascimento, he is one of the most interesting players of an extremely talented Portuguese generation (2002). He signed for Benfica in 2014, after having played for Sporting and Belenenses’ youth teams.
The 17-year-old’s flair and ability in tight spaces sets him apart from the other players. A player with his ability to take on players in central areas is rarer nowadays and is a pleasure watching him dribbling past players the way he does.
Although he is free to roam around the pitch, he is most of a threat between the lines, where he often receives the ball well on the half-turn and is always a step ahead of his opponents. His awareness and anticipation are one of his most special traits, as he usually knows what to do even before receiving the ball and executes fast.
He is smart and patient on the ball. He looks to bring others into play by playing quick one-twos with teammates to get past opponents or, if he has time and space, he’ll try to keep the ball long enough to attract the defender and free a teammate and he usually does a good job at masking his intentions in these situations.
Out wide he has a tendency to come inside and put dangerous crosses into the box, usually trying to put the ball at the far post but can also take on opponents with his dribbling skills or by making use of his acceleration, since he is so fast in short distances.
Without the ball, he makes late runs into the box and often appears at the end of a cross. Defensively he is aggressive and wins many ground duels, especially right after the team has lost the ball.
To conclude, Diogo Nascimento is one of the players I look forward to watching the most at Benfica in the next few years. The only player at the club with similar characteristics to his is senior team’s Adel Taarabt.
He has the potential to become an important player for the senior team and, if he gets there, will surely become a fan favorite quickly.