Man United and Barcelona target Nelson Semedo: Everything you need to know about the Benfica defender

Sport360 gives you the lowdown on the highly-rated full-back linked to Manchester United and Barca.

Brendon Netto
by Brendon Netto
19th June 2017

article:19th June 2017

Manchester United have joined Barcelona in the race to sign Benfica defender Nelson Semedo.

The Portuguese club have reportedly slapped a £48 million price tag on the 23-year-old, which has apparently seen Barcelona hesitate, but United are said to have lodged an offer of £30 million, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Why is the defender rated so highly and what has attracted interest from two of the biggest clubs in Europe?


Semedo plies his trade at right-back, but has also featured at left-back and right midfield in the past.


One of the main features of Semedo’s style of play is his ability and inclination to dribble past players. He was the tenth-best dribbler in the Portuguese league last season, completing an average of 1.6 dribbles per game, a fine feat for a defender.

The youngster has pace to burn and enjoys venturing forward. He regularly gets himself involved in the final third, capable of playing a good short-passing game but also accomplished with his crossing. He registered six assists in the league last season.

He boasts a great work-rate and is disciplined in tracking back while also being strong in a tackle. He averaged three tackles per game last term.

Where he can fall short though – excuse the pun – is in his aerial duels, winning just 0.7 per game on average. At 5ft 8in and weighing approximately 67kgs, he’s hardly an imposing figure and could be a cause for concern, particularly if he ends up in the Premier League.


Semedo only broke into the Benfica first team in the 2015-16 season before becoming a permanent fixture in the last year. He began his career at Sintrense before joining the Portuguese giants in 2012. He spent a season on loan to Fatima before featuring prominently for the club’s reserve side.

He made his international bow in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Serbia. He wasn’t part of the squad that won the tournament but has since made three further appearances.


Antonio Valencia’s strength, commitment and work-rate has made him a relatively solid option at right-back but there have always been chinks in his armour in terms of his reading of danger and positioning.

United have already signed one defender from Benfica this summer in Victor Lindelof and while the Swede is quite capable to fill in at right-back, his natural position remains in central defence and Jose Mourinho will be keen to secure a more long-term replacement for Valencia.

Semedo may have to share playing time with the Ecuadorian initially but would be expected to eventually cement his place in the side.

Nelson Semedo

Nelson Semedo


At Barcelona, the right-back slot is there for the taking. Sergio Roberto currently occupies the role but he has always been a midfielder capable of doing a job at full-back. With Andres Iniesta’s future in doubt, Roberto may finally get more opportunities higher up the pitch next season.

Meanwhile, Aleix Vidal has been less than convincing for the Catalans. He clearly hasn’t earned the confidence of the coaching staff, making just 12 appearances in the past season, although he was ruled out through injury from mid February onwards.

Barcelona would like Semedo to come in and make the position his own. However, they are reportedly also chasing Arsenal right-back and La Masia graduate, Hector Bellerin.


The Portuguese is at his best when striding forward on the right flank and getting crosses in. His pace and dribbling makes him difficult to deal with and has an uncanny knack of picking the right moments to burst forward.

His tackling is also one of his best attributes but he suffers in the air due to his slight frame and his inexperience can be exposed in certain defensive scenarios, getting drawn into a tackle too early.



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