Filipe Relvas: Portimonense’s Prodigious Talent in Defense

Club: Portimonense

Nationality: Portugal

Position(s): CB, LB, LWB

Preferred Foot: Left

Height: 6’4”/192cm

Age: 23

Strengths: interceptions, defensive understanding, aerial duels, passing range, line-breaking passing, versatility, concentration

Development Areas: ball-carrying frequency, weak-foot ability 


From Bruno Tabata (Sporting) to Beto (Udinese), from Samuel Portugal (Porto) to Fali Candé (Metz), Portimonense has made a number of high-profile sales in recent years, and the latest player to earn a big move away from the Algarve could be Filipe Relvas. After spells at Espinho, Feirense, Gondomar and Pedras Rubras, Relvas joined Portimonense in 2020, making his first-team debut in August 2021 and registering 24 league appearances. The following season, he played all but one league match for the Algarvians, emerging as a key figure in central defense for Paulo Sérgio’s side, who finished 15th.


Portimonense rejected a €10m bid from VfL Wolfsburg in January for Relvas, but they may be resigned to losing him this summer with various clubs interested. Relvas is an aerially dominant CB. At 6’4”, he has a commanding presence at the back winning 3.30 aerial duels p/90, which is 75% of his aerial duels won (96th percentile). Not only is Relvas tall, but he has the explosiveness in his legs to jump high too.


He reads the game very well due to having such a great defensive understanding. His anticipation of passes allows him to step up and make interceptions and blocks to anticipate passes being played in behind the defense. Relvas has a strong tall frame with long legs & he uses his body well to battle against attackers. His long legs help him to reach the ball to tackle without having to break his stride but also enable him to block shots/passes well.


Filipe Relvas possesses great passing range as he completes 7.09 long passes out of the 10.67 attempted (66.5%). His overall pass accuracy is only 81.5%, which isn’t bad but it’s not amazing. However, a big part of this number being lower is because he attempts more long passes considering the fact that he actually isn’t a high-volume passer. 


Player Analysis: Goncalo Inacio


Portimonense aren’t a possession-based team as they averaged 48.7% possession in Liga Portugal, so Relvas having 56.66 attempted passes puts him in only the 74th percentile, yet his long passes completed are in the 85th percentile, showing that he attempts & completes a lot of long passes relative to his team’s limited possession. If he was in a more possession-based team, you’d see his pass accuracy % increase & he’d have a very high percentile of long passes attempted/completed too. 


Their limited possession also means fewer opportunities for Relvas to carry the ball too. He is great at ball-carrying, however, his numbers don’t show this (0.47 progressive carries p/90). Portimonense’s setup means he spends more time defending and less time with the ball at his feet to show off this ability. Not only is Relvas a great long passer, but he has great vision to pick out line-breaking passes. This creativity from deep enables teams to disrupt the shape of the opponent’s defensive structure and transition into the attacking phase.


Relvas is an incredibly versatile performer in defense, capable of shifting in as a left-sided center back in a back three or as a middle center back, and he has even impressed as a left wing-back. Despite his height, he’s quite mobile and has quick feet, creating separation from his man and launching a pinpoint cross to set up a last-second equaliser against Casa Pia.



One area for development would be to improve his weak foot ability. He’s fairly one-footed but this isn’t really negative as he almost always plays as the LCB where he has optimal angles to ping long passes across the pitch.


So who’s been linked with Filipe Relvas? Wolfsburg made a bid for Relvas in January and they may go back in for him, especially if Mickey Van De Ven is sold. Wolfsburg play a 4-3-3 with Van De Ven playing at LB & Maxence Lacroix / Sebastiaan Bornauw at LCB, or they’ll play a variation of a 3 at the back formation with VDV at LCB of the 3. Relvas would slot in as a great replacement for him. However, Wolfsburg aren’t very possession-based (50.5%) and tend to play a more end-to-end style counter attacking-style which wouldn’t suit Relvas as well as he’s not as quick as Van De Ven.


Other linked teams include Benfica, AC Milan, Napoli & Atlético Madrid. Now for his play style, I believe he should join a team who have a more possession-based style of play and potentially also a back 3/5 (not essential though). Sporting may consider a deal for Relvas if Gonçalo Inácio departs, whilst Porto could also pursue a permanent deal for him with Iván Marcano (36) and Pepe (40) entering the final years of his prime and David Carmo (23) struggling for minutes in his debut campaign. 


Although it may be slightly ambitious, Napoli would be an incredible fit for Relvas. After winning their first Scudetto in 33 years, they look set to lose Kim Min-Jae and may need to add some extra physical presence and ball-playing ability to their defence. A partnership of Relvas and Konstantinos Mavropanos (linked with a move from Stuttgart) has height, aerial dominance, ball-playing prowess and recovery pace too.


Whilst Pepe is now on the wrong side of 40, Portugal have a fine crop of promising young defenders who could be set to push for a starting spot in defense alongside Rúben Dias. From António Silva (19), André Amaro (20), Gonçalo Inácio (21), Tomás Araújo (21), Eduardo Quaresma (21), Tiago Djaló (23), Diogo Leite (24) and Toti Gomes (24), the Seleção have a plethora of talented options who could challenge for a place in the team, and at 23, there’s no reason why Filipe Relvas can’t push for a spot in the next few years.


By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson_

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Gualter Fatia / Getty Images