Pedro Pereira was not Benfica's only signing on the final day of the January transfer window. The Eagles also recruited Filipe Augusto from Rio Ave, for an undisclosed fee. Like Pereira, Augusto has agreed a five-and-a-half year deal, which expires in summer 2022. The 23-year old midfielder is a client of Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes. He has been handed the number 6 shirt.
Augusto is naturally left-footed, and has spent the majority of his career playing as a defensive midfielder. Technically, he is more gifted than your average midfield destroyer, showing a neat first touch, good vision and an excellent passing range. He is particularly adept at breaking up play and springing quick counter-attacks. Such is Augusto's versatility that he has also been deployed as a left winger and a number 8. One of his former coaches, Paulo Fonseca, believes that the latter is his best position.
The player himself feels comfortable in both central midfield roles:
“I’m a good passer of the ball, a good finisher, and I’m good at making myself available for my teammates. I can play in either the 6 or 8 role.”
The Brazilian joined Rio Ave from Bahia in June 2012 for a reported fee of €2.2 million. Since then, he has featured 61 times for the northern outfit, contributing two goals and two assists. He spent the 2014/15 season on loan in La Liga, accompanying his then coach Nuno Espírito Santo, who also made the move from Rio Ave to Valencia. Augusto failed to make an impact in Spain, playing just eight games, of which only three were starts.
Augusto fared slightly better last season, on loan at SC Braga, where he appeared in 22 games, scoring two goals. Unfortunately, his campaign was cut short by the cruciate ligament injury he sustained in April 2016.
The midfielder has been eased back into action this season at Rio Ave, playing nine matches prior to his January transfer. His injury troubles appear to be behind him, as he was used by head coach Luís Castro in eight consecutive league games, including the 2-0 defeat to Benfica at the Estádio da Luz back in December. He has also chipped in with two goals and one assist.
Benfica's latest acquisition could make his debut sooner rather than later, given their limited options in midfield. Danilo had his loan terminated in January, and Guillermo Celis has been borrowed by Vitória de Guimarães. Ljubomir Fejsa and André Horta have both been tormented by injuries in recent weeks, while Pizzi is said to be suffering from muscle fatigue.
In his first interview with BTV, Augusto was asked to describe his early impressions of his new club.
"This first experience was very positive. It was more than I hoped for. I spoke with my new teammates, my coach, and I got to check out a little bit what the club has to offer including the training ground. They welcomed me with open arms! I already knew some of the players, like Rafa and Ederson, who I had played with before, and I've also played against the majority of the rest of them. It was a great feeling.”
And what about his first encounter with his new coach, Rui Vitória?
“It was a very good first meeting. He asked me how I was and had some questions about the game, and with time we will be able to communicate more. I really want to learn and evolve as a player here.”
The Encarnados' latest addition was equally impressed by the facilities at the club's famed training complex, the Caixa Futebol Campus.
“Whoever sees it from the outside can only imagine what it’s like, but the ones who experience it every day know for sure that - with these conditions - it is one of the best in the world. I want to take advantage of it every day and continue to grow.”
Lastly, Augusto promised to show plenty of commitment in a Benfica jersey.
"[The Benfiquistas can expect] a lot of professional dedication, effort, and (for me) to always help Benfica to reach their objectives.”