With Renato Sanches’ future uncertain, Ljubomir Fejsa plagued by injuries, and Andreas Samaris struggling to recapture his best form, Benfica may be tempted to strengthen in central midfield this summer. We discuss one rumoured target, Málaga’s Ignacio Camacho, with Miguel Quintana of Spanish football site Ecos del Balón.

Short Bio

Ignacio Camacho began his career with hometown club Real Zaragoza, before moving to Spanish giants Atlético Madrid in 2005. Aged 17, the midfielder made his senior debut in a 4-2 win over Barcelona, just 2 months after signing his first professional contract. A string of injuries hampered his progress at Atlético, and in December 2010, the club sanctioned a transfer to Málaga. He has since made 159 appearances, scoring 15 times. Camacho captained Spain’s under-17 team to glory at Euro 2007, and was handed his solitary senior cap by Vicente del Bosque in a friendly with Germany in 2014.

Playing style

Camacho is a classical midfielder. He is physically stronger than he first appears, marshals the whole team from his position, and handles the ball well, always keeping things fairly simple. He is not a creative midfielder; instead, he is a defensive pivot who is commanding, controlled and physical. Like all midfielders in La Liga, he can also play with the ball. He is in no way clumsy.

Player comparisons

Without being exactly the same, he is a defensive midfielder in a similar mould to Ljubomir Fejsa, although for me he is better. If I had to compare him to another player, I'd pick Manchester City’s Fernando (Camacho is not as strong, but neater in possession), or ex-Bayern midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (they are really quite similar).

Strengths

Camacho is a powerful player; he heads the ball well, and he is a great finisher from set pieces. His tactical awareness is another strength. He is the perfect pivot for teams that want to press their rivals high up the pitch, or for those who want to wait in their own half of the field. He’s great at linking with his teammates, and maintaining the order of the whole team.

Weaknesses

He’s had many injuries, which is a big problem; without them, he would already be playing at a higher level. If he can stay fit, Camacho would be a great player for Benfica or for any other team. Perhaps his biggest weakness is that he is not a playmaker. He is not a Bruno Soriano (Villarreal), a Thiago Motta (PSG), or a Xabi Alonso (Bayern). Nonetheless, he is very useful.

Interested clubs

Camacho was linked with West Bromwich Albion in the January transfer window, but a move never materialised. Liverpool are also reported to be admirers, and the Spaniard was forced to deny rumours that he had visited their Melwood training complex in February. Benfica’s interest was first mooted in the Portuguese press earlier this month. Napoli may also be in the running.

Transfer fee

It is alleged that Camacho’s current contract includes a minimum fee release clause of around £10 million, which would represent a bargain for one of the most highly regarded midfielders in La Liga.

How he would fit in at Benfica

With the cultural and linguistic similarities between Spain and Portugal, Camacho should not take long to settle at Benfica. The 25-year old would be expected to make an instant impact at the club, much like Javi García, the last defensive midfielder to arrive from Spain.

Likelihood of a move to Lisbon

7/10. Now in his 6th season at Málaga, and his 9th in Spain, Camacho could be forgiven for wanting a new challenge. If Liverpool’s interest is genuine, it will be difficult to convince the Spaniard that his future lies at the Estádio da Luz. If not, Benfica are in pole position for his signature. Rui Vitória can offer the midfielder the chance to compete in the Champions League, a tournament in which he has appeared only 11 times.

PLAYER FACTFILE

Full name: Ignacio Camacho Barnola

Nationality: Spanish

DOB: 4th May 1990 (Age 25)

Club: Málaga CF

Position: Defensive Midfield

Height: 1.82 m

Preferred foot: Right

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