Who is Benfica's Player of the Season?

Goal.com names the top three stand-out performers for the Portuguese capital club in 2011-12 and then declares the overall winner. Have your say below
After such a bright start, it seemed that this would be Benfica's season. But if there is one thing that this campaign has shown, it is that what matters most is the final sprint. After being held to a 2-2 draw by Rio Ave last weekend, Jorge Jesus' side have conceded defeat in the race for the Portuguese Liga title, an unthinkable scenario just two months ago, when they enjoyed a comfortable five-point lead over Porto at the top of the table.

If things on the domestic front did not go their way, the same cannot be said about the club's European campaign. After topping their Champions League group while holding Manchester United to two draws, Benfica defeated Zenit St Petersburg to reach the competition's quarter-finals for only the second time in 20 years. Then, they were defeated by Chelsea 3-1 on aggregate, but gave a good account of themselves against the Blues to show that the team can make an impact in Europe.

Benfica have had to settle for winning just the Portuguese League Cup, same as in the 2011-12 campaign and with Jorge Jesus entering the final year of his contract, one cannot help but wonder that he has given all that he could give to the club. The fans have expressed their unhappiness with the lack of results, and a hectic summer is expected at the Estadio da Luz.

Below, in alphabetical order, are Goal.com's three nominees for Benfica’s player of the season, based on their club performances in all competitions. We then cast our vote at the bottom before leaving it up to you, the readers, to have your say.

Competition Games
Goals Assists Booked
Sent off
League 22 2 0 2 0
Cup 3 0 0 0 0
Europe 11 0 0 2 0
Other 3 0 0 0 0
Total 39 2 0 4 0

Garay was signed in the summer to form the centre-back pairing with Luisao after it was decided that Jardel did not fit the bill, and the Argentine became an instant hit. His accurate positioning and no-nonsense style of play has seen the fans forget all about David Luiz and made him a strong contender for a place in the Albiceleste set-up.

He has become such an important part of the team that when he picked up a knee injury in March, his absence was felt all over the pitch. In the first leg of the Champions League tie against Chelsea, for example, Fernando Torres easily outpaced Jardel before assisting Salomon Kalou for the winning goal.

The Argentine defender's performances have not gone unnoticed in Europe, and Roma are understood to be keen. Despite his importance to the squad, Benfica may be tempted to sell the 25-year-old as they need to raise funds for their own summer purchases.

Competition Games
Goals Assists Booked
Sent off
League 23 2 9 3 1
Cup 2 0 0 0 0
Europe 12 1 3 5 0
Other 4 0 0 0 0
Total 41 3 12 8 1

The Argentine midfielder is a pure No.10, unfortunately a dying breed in today's game. Signed in 2008 from Zaragoza after the Spanish side were relegated to the second division, Aimar has proved that all the critics who were predicting his demise were wrong.

Aimar has showcased the dribbling, passing qualities and the flair which made him famous last decade, and he takes the attacking game to a whole new level when he is on the pitch. Although he is not afflicted by injuries as much as in the past, his biggest problem continues to be his poor physical condition, which forces him to come off around the hour mark when he features from the start of games.

At the age of 32, Aimar remains a key member of the team, and he has shown just that this season with several assists and strong performances. The sky is no longer the limit for him, but Benfica's fans will be happy to keep him at the club as long as possible.

Competition Games
Goals Assists Booked
Sent off
League 27 19 3 7 2
Cup 0 0 0 0 0
Europe 9 4 0 3 0
Other 4 3 0 1 0
Total 40 26 3 10 2

Cardozo is the type of striker who can drive any fan crazy with his clumsy, slow-paced style of play, but the fact is that he continues to score goals likes there is no tomorrow, becoming the most prolific foreign player in Benfica's history in March.

The Paraguay international can sometimes be hit-and-miss with the Benfica faithful, who may criticise the striker one minute and then chant his name the next. He has not been free from the wrath of the fans this season, but he has been able to keep the goals coming, including important strikes in the Champions League against Manchester United and Zenit St Petersburg.

He may never be a fans' favourite at the Estadio da Luz, but the 28-year-old has proved once again his scoring credentials. For the past years, he has been linked with a move away from the club, and the exact thing should happen this summer. If Cardozo does leave, it will be a significant blow to the team, but the fans will certainly not miss him too much.


Academica (h) W 4-1
Gil Vicente (h) W 3-1
Sporting Lisbon (h) L 1-0

Aimar gets the award for the importance he has had in the team's attacking game this season despite the fact that he continues to be plagued by physical problems. Coach Jorge Jesus often chooses to keep the Argentine on the bench during the first half, but when the 32-year-old comes on, he adds a certain amount of dynamism to the attack that it is impossible not to notice his contribution.

The former Valencia playmaker has only one year left on his Benfica contract, and with River Plate understood to be interested in re-signing him, it appears likely that he will only grace the European game for one more season, which is without doubt a heavy blow for many lovers of the beautiful game.