Considering the recent official announcement of an agreement between Manchester United and SL Benfica for the transfer of Victor Lindelof, I thought it would be interesting to provide my opinion on him, since I am also a Benfica fan, and have been following Lindelof’s progress ever since he made it to the first team. Well, a conflicted Benfica fan at that right now. Anyway.
As the only times he plays in matches that are seen by a larger amount of people are in the Champions League, I thought it would be interesting to provide my opinion based on what I’ve seen from him in the Portuguese league.
Small player bio
- Player name: Victor Lindelof
- Age: 22 (23 on the 17th of July)
- Height: 1.87m (6 ft 2 in)
- Nationality: Swedish
- Position(s): LCB, RCB, RB
- Former clubs: Vasteras SK (SWE), SL Benfica (POR)
- Trophies won:
- 3rd Swedish division (with Vasteras)
- 3 Portuguese league titles, 2 Portuguese Cups, 1 Portuguese League Cup, 1 Portuguese Super Cup (with Benfica)
- Euro U21 (with the Swedish U21 National Team, where he was in the team of the tournament as the RB)
Summary of his time at Benfica
Lindelof joined Benfica in December of 2011. He played 1 season in Benfica’s U19 team, and then 2 and a half seasons in Benfica’s B team. At Benfica B (and also in the Swedish national team), he played as RB from time to time, but more consistently as a CB.
After a succession of injuries to Benfica’s CBs in the 2015/2016 season, Lindelof began playing more and more often at the start of 2016, and quickly proved why he was so highly regarded while he was in Benfica’s B team.
He played the second half of the 2015/2016 season as the RCB in a 4-4-2 formation, next to the more experienced LCB Jardel, a role that fit him extremely well, especially due to the fact that he is right-footed. Playing in his preferred side in the center of defense, he impressed Benfica fans not only with his defensive work, but also with his work on the ball. He would often carry the ball forward on his own, knowing he had the protection from LCB Jardel, and also DM Fejsa, in case of a rare mistake. His passing is solid, and he’s comfortable with the ball under pressure.
Regarding his defensive work, Lindelof isn’t exactly a hard tackling defender. Instead, he reads the opposition’s attacks well and positions himself well accordingly, and doesn’t have to tackle often because of it. Taking this into consideration, you could say Bailly compliments him well in that regard, making up for that with his own tackling abilities. That isn’t to say Lindelof is a bad tackler. His tackles are good, but he just doesn’t need to use them as frequently because of how he approaches his defensive duties. He’s good at covering the left back (if he’s playing at LCB) or the right back (if he’s playing at RCB), which was extremely crucial with the way Benfica plays, with 2 extremely attacking full backs in both sides.
As for the past season, he played as the LCB in a 4-4-2 formation, next to RCB Benfica legend Luisão, and it certainly had an effect on his game. As a right-footed player in the left side of the center of defense, this season he has not started attacks like he used to as much as in 2015/2016, not feeling as comfortable to do on that side of defense. He did not improve a lot in this season, mostly keeping the same level as in 15/16, in which he showed a lot of talent and already became associated with bigger clubs.
For that reason, a decent amount of Benfica fans aren’t exactly sad that he’s leaving, since he did not improve a lot this season, not when compared to someone like RB Nelson Semedo. Personally, I’m on the other side of this argument, I think he should have still been played as the RCB, where he clearly felt more comfortable.
Strengths and weaknesses
- Strengths: Reading the opposition’s attacks, great at man marking, good with the ball at his feet and under pressure, decent header, good passing, does not get carded often because of the way he defends
- Weaknesses: Not particularly fast (but not slow either), lack of concentration at times, physically not very strong
In the end, the Benfica fan in me is sad about losing a quality player like Lindelof in the heart of defense. However, the Manchester United fan in me thinks it is a great deal for the rumored price of €35 million (according to BBC’s Simon Stone). Mourinho has an incredible track record with CBs, both in buying quality ones and improving ones already at the clubs he joins (Bailly and Rojo being two perfect examples for those 2 categories), and I have no doubt that he will turn Lindelof into an even better CB. Given the way he plays, I do think placing him as the RCB with Bailly as the LCB would make the most sense for him, considering how comfortable he is at starting attacks with the ball on the right side, and he could cover the right side extremely well when Valencia goes forward, but it might not be the best solution for Bailly. Regardless, I’ll leave those questions to our man Mourinho!
Please note that this is my first post of this kind, so if there is anything you think is missing or that you’d like me to talk about regarding Lindelof, please do let me know and I’ll try to add it to this post or reply directly in the comments.
This post first appeared on r/reddevils by u/omegaxLoL