António Silva: The Lowdown on Benfica’s Prodigious Center Back

In the Portuguese domestic football landscape, where talent shines bright and potential knows no bounds, one club in recent times has been head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to unearthing gems, be it by scouring the South American continent for the next big thing or by looking from within thanks to their famous youth academy system. That club is SL Benfica.


The deal to sign Enzo Fernández from Argentina showed their South American scouting prowess; Fernandez was sold to Chelsea for an English record fee in the space of a year. The next potential big-money departure from the red half of Lisbon will most likely be António Silva, an elegant homegrown central defender with the world at his feet.



Heralded for his performances since making his first team debut at the tender age of 18, the now 20-year-old Silva has been touted to follow in the footsteps of Manchester City star Rúben Dias, another graduate of Benfica’s youth setup.  Renowned journalist, author, and Portuguese football expert, Tom Kundert, who has been following his journey from the very beginning gives deeper insights into the profile of this rising star.


Q: As someone who has closely followed António Silva’s career, what sets him apart from other young talents?


Tom Kundert: His calmness under pressure, even in the biggest games (i.e. PSG and Juventus in his debut season), is what stands out. Extremely reliable, you could count the mistakes he made in his first season on one hand, which is remarkable given he was just 18 years old when he was thrust into the first team. 


Q: What do you feel is his best attribute as a modern-day CB? 


Tom Kundert: His positional sense. He is very rarely caught out in the wrong place, which is crucial in the modern game when tactical discipline is a key factor. He always seems to be in the right place to make a block or interception at key moments in games.



Q: How would you describe his impact on the team both on and off the pitch?


Tom Kundert: When he came into the team at the start of the 2022/23 season it was only because Benfica had an injury crisis at centre-back. He was outstanding from the off, so much so that coach Roger Schmidt simply never dropped him, even when the more senior center-backs returned to action.


That first half of last season Benfica were simply sensational, remaining unbeaten in the league and Champions League play, racing clear at the top of the Primeira Liga table and winning a tough Champions League group ahead of PSG and Juventus, and António Silva played his full part in the team, playing practically every minute of those 6 months. 


Q: As a Portuguese domestic football expert, which former Benfica player does he remind you of?


Tom Kundert: I’m a Sporting supporter – but having lived in Lisbon for the last 3 decades I follow both teams closely. He reminds me a bit of former Benfica center-back Ezequiel Garay in that he is unflappable and extremely reliable. I also see a little bit of Luisão in him as well when it comes to his leadership qualities.



Q: What challenges do you foresee him facing as he continues to progress in his career and how do you feel he can overcome them? 


Tom Kundert: He has shown a good attitude so far, coming across as a humble hard worker in interviews. He’s made a few mistakes this season – curiously more than in his debut season – but the way he has not let them affect his confidence bodes well for a great future. He has that mental toughness you wouldn’t necessarily attribute to a player of his age.  


Q: Finally, what does the future hold for António Silva?


Tom Kundert: A move to a more high-profile league is inevitable, particularly a club competing in the upper echelons of European football. I would be really surprised if he is still a Benfica player in two years. With each passing game, each milestone reached, Silva’s stock continues to steadily rise.



Benfica may have effectively lost out on the league title to bitter rivals Sporting, but they are still in the hunt for European honours thanks to their performances in the Europa League. With a spot in the Seleção squad for Euro 2024 all but assured, we eagerly look forward to the next chapter in the story of this prodigious Portuguese talent.


By: Edward Okaro / @KingArinze

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Carlos Rodrigues / Getty Images