Recruited during the last transfer window by Manchester City against 68 million euros, Rúben Dias left his cocoon of Benfica Lisbon to join a club of his stature. Because yes, the 23-year-old defender has everything to become a reference for his position. This is already the case in the selection of Portugal, where it very quickly became unbreakable.
Rui Costa is not a man who has easy tears. Except when Marc Batta sent him a second yellow card for having left the field too early. However, it is with all wet eyes that the sports director of Benfica attends the speech of its president Luís Filipe Vieira in the locker room of the Estádio da Luz after the victory of the SLB against Moreirense (2-0). The reason for this sadness is a few meters from him and is called Rúben Dias, who played his last game – in which he opened the scoring, captain’s armband around the bicep – at Benfica Lisbon before flying to Manchester City, the Citizens not having hesitated to let go 68 million euros to enlist him. What to give some regrets to the Olympique Lyonnais who missed the boat two years earlier …
– SL Benfica (@SLBenfica) September 29, 2020
Ruben the alpha male
Rui Costa can be reassured, he is not the only Benfica Lisbon supporter to have shed his tears when Rúben Dias left, even if it was inevitable as the club had become too small for his talent. To understand this sadness, we have to go back to 2008, when little Rúben left his Estrela da Amadora to join the SLB training center. Rúben Dos Santos Gato Alves Dias of his full name was then only 11 years old, but already has a career plan in mind, as explained by his former coach at Benfica B, Hélder: “Since the age of 11 he has been preparing to reach the highest level in football. There are old videos from Benfica TV where Rúben is very young and explains that his goal is to reach the main Benfica team first and then to make an international career. We are facing a player who prepared from an early age to achieve what he ultimately managed to achieve. ” However, the kid has given himself the means to succeed in this plan. When some of his teammates arrived at training with a smile, Pep Guardiola’s new toy arrived with his face closed, ready to work.
Hard worker, talented and determined, Rúben Dias flies over the debates among young people at Benfica – with in particular a lost Youth League final – as in selection, where he is captain and member of the typical team of Euro U19 2016. But , more than by his defensive qualities, it is by his leadership that the Portuguese international impresses. “Rúben has always been a leader from a young age, says the former defender of PSG. I very quickly had a conversation with him about his leadership to make it more sectoral. He has such a leadership soul that he wanted to communicate even with attackers and spent a lot on concentration. I then told him to start by controlling his defense especially to be even stronger in his performance. ” Former Sporting B player Bilel Aouacheria recalls the derbies against the Benfica reserve: “I remember his strong personality. He was a captain, and you could tell he was the real boss of the defense. I played him again later in the pros, and he had the same leadership attitude. ”
The Dias of Spades
An almost obligatory passage for each youngster in SLB, Benfica B – which plays in the Portuguese second division – allows future cracks to train. And to work on their weak points in order to break everything at the top level. Rúben Dias was therefore no exception to the rule between his 18 and 20 years. Hélder then focuses mainly on two axes: the short pass – “A central defender cannot miss his passes. And in a team that dominates and plays offensively, the first short raise from the central is essential ” – and versatility – “I made him play left axis so that he worked both feet” . A good idea since in Manchester City, Rúben Dias will have a few passes to achieve during a meeting, while he plays left axis in the defense of Portugal, the right axis being reserved for Pepe.
Once the two points have been acquired, Hélder can then let his foal fly with the pros and validate his prophecy: “In an interview with Benfica TV, I named Rúben as the future captain of Benfica. I had no doubts about its success. ” Upstairs, the one who was voted best prospect in Liga NOS for his first season is not going to shake much, stringing together good performances. “He’s one of the best defenders I’ve faced with Pepe, poses the Moreirense striker. He is very strong physically, he is tall, strong. When you have it one on one you have to be solid. He’s rough, never aggressive like some people, but in the duel he makes you feel that he’s there and that it’s going to be complicated for you. ”
The present and future of Portugal
Prophet in his club Benfica, Rúben Dias has become in selection where he is now already indestructible. And after having spent a 2018 World Cup on the substitutes’ bench – not playing the slightest minute – the winner of the League of Nations intends to be now on the green rectangle during the next competitions. On this, Rúben Dias is quiet. It must be said that competition in central defense is very light in Portugal. Proof of this is with the tenure of Pepe despite his 37 years and the presence in the group of José Fonte (36 years). The question is therefore not whether Rúben Dias is the future of Selection, but good to know who, in the future, will be his defense accomplice. And if Ruben Semedo missed his chance by performing a poor performance against Spain in the last friendly (0-0), his former SLB comrade, Ferro, could well be the winner. In the meantime, Rúben Dias has revenge to take on Kylian Mbappé who, during Euro U19 2019, had slammed a double in the semi-finals to offer qualification to the France team (3-1). And if the PSG striker has grown well since this meeting, he will quickly realize that the Portuguese defender too.
Pair Steven Oliveira
Remarks by Hélder and Bilel Aouacheria collected by SO.