Jose Miguel Saraiva writes a detailed scout report about Benfica’s tricky winger, Diogo Goncalves
Having been deprived of their biggest talent Nicolas Gaitán in the beginning of the 2016/17 season after his move to Atlético Madrid, Benfica struggled to find a good-enough replacement. Despite the fine performances of Franco Cervi, he wasn’t able to cut it, as Franco is a very different winger. However, the 2017 summer brought a few surprises and a young lad emerged in Benfica, showing signs of tremendous potential to be the kind of offensively baffling winger that any team wants to have. That young promising winger is Diogo Gonçalves.
Who is Diogo Gonçalves?
Diogo António Cupido Gonçalves is a Portuguese player born in Beja, on the 6th February 1997. Diogo Gonçalves started playing football when he was only 8 years old, in his local team Almodôvar, in 2005. In 2008, Benfica scouts spotted him and the Portuguese giant signed him. By the time Diogo was 11, he was already playing in one of the biggest youth formation schools in Portugal and in Europe.
In the U-17 Benfica team, in the season of 2013/14, Diogo Gonçalves made 33 appearances and scored 26 goals. The feat earned him a promotion to the U19 team at such a young age.
In the 2014/15 season, he made 33 appearances for the U19 team, scoring 9 goals, and was summoned to play for the Benfica B team, playing 10 matches and scoring 1 goal in the Portuguese 2nd league. I think it is important to highlight that in this season, Diogo Gonçalves was still old enough to play for the U17 team, but he was integrated in the U19 team full-time, which evidences an undisputable quality and talent.
In the following season, 2015/16, at only 18 years old, he played only 6 matches for the U19 team, scoring 7 goals, and played an incredible 39 matches scoring 7 goals for the Benfica B team.
The 2016/17 season was really similar to the 2015/16 one. He was still of a U19-team age, but played almost exclusively for the B team, making 37 appearances and scoring 8 goals for the latter.
In the 2017/18 season, for the Benfica A team, he made 13 appearances and no goals. He started playing on a regular basis by middle October but was somehow set aside from February onwards.
When it comes to international achievements, Diogo Gonçalves has been a regular in all the youth Portuguese national teams. He made 6 appearances for the U-17, 3 of which in the 2014 U17 European Championship and the other 3 in the 2016 U17 European Championship. In the latter, he scored 3 goals.
He made 10 appearances for the U19 and 10 more for the U20. He is currently playing for the U21 national team.
Diogo Gonçalves signed for the British team Nottingham Forrest in June, seeking a slot in the starting XI.
What is his style of play?
Diogo Gonçalves plays best as a left-winger, but he can also play as a right-winger. Being right-footed, he often moves to the middle and makes the difference from there. He is a typical modern-football winger, who often goes to his own midfield to collect the ball, and transports it to the front of the field. He is excellent in one on one situations, being the player who is often trusted to play the part of the irreverent and exciting attacker. He tends to unbalance the opposite defence and compromises its organization, which usually leads to the creation of goal-scoring chances, either for himself or his teammates. Such individual actions are often driven by his dribbling skills and speed. His performances against Manchester United in the Champions League prove that exactly, given he was by far the best player on the Benfica side, having threatened De Gea’s goal in various situations.
Also, he often makes diagonal movements from the left to the middle, receiving the ball behind the defensive line, quickly and dangerously approaching the opposite goal.
What are his strengths?
As I stated before, Diogo Gonçalves stands out due to his pace and technical skills. He is technically very gifted and is very confident with the ball at his feet. That makes it hard to tackle him successfully, and his pace makes him a very hard player to stop. His creativity makes him an unpredictable player. His technical skills are also evident in his shooting and passing ability.
Diogo Gonçalves is a very complete player when it comes to attacking characteristics and may be said to be similar to Gonçalo Guedes, although I believe that Diogo Gonçalves possesses a higher level of game intelligence when compared to the Valencia’s winger. His irreverence, unpredictability and creativity are certainly qualities which will support his growth and development process, and if they are properly enhanced, then he certainly will be a very wanted player in the future.
What are his weaknesses?
Despite being a very promising and talented young player, Diogo Gonçalves needs to improve on a few aspects. Firstly, he would perhaps benefit from a physical upgrade, given that playing at the highest of levels requires a great deal of physical power and resistance, and it would certainly benefit him. A strong physique will allow him to be able to overcome his adversaries in a physical dispute and in several other situations of the game. However, it is known that a developed physique is not an absolutely important requirement to be a successful football player.
Also, due to his young age, Diogo Gonçalves can be really inconsistent when it comes to his performances. The last season is an accurate example of such inconsistency, as he seemed to have earned an assured presence in the Benfica starting XI by mid-November and suddenly he was out of the starting XI and was no longer an option for months.
I believe Diogo Gonçalves has a bright future ahead of him as he shows outstanding qualities and significantly fewer flaws when compared to most players his age playing in similar clubs.
Read all our Scout Reports here
- Scout Report: Gonçalo Paciência | Eintracht’s exquisite forward - August 17, 2018
- Scout Report: Diogo Gonçalves | Benfica’s tricky winger - August 15, 2018
- Scout Report: Diogo Dalot | Manchester United’s New Full-Back - August 6, 2018