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Gedson Fernandes, Benfica's latest NxGn golden boy

12:00 EAT 23/12/2018
Gedson Fernandes
The teenage midfielder's rise to prominence has surprised many - even himself - but his ascent to the first-team is reward for his rapid development

"It was a unique game. I always liked to come to the stadium, I always liked the environment, which is exciting. The first game was a dream. When I entered the field I almost had a blackout."

He may have suffered a few nerves when making his Benfica debut, but Gedson Fernandes' performances for the transitioning Portuguese giants haven't been that of a player overawed by his fast-tracked inclusion into the first-team.

The 19-year-old made his Primeira Liga, UEFA Champions League and full international debuts all within a matter of months, quickly leading to apparent interest from European heavyweights such as Juventus.

His recent seventh-placed finish in the Golden Boy ranking proved testament to how well he has settled into the senior set-up with Benfica, while his impactful performances in the Champions League qualifiers were worth their weight in gold for the Eagles, who along with their new prodigy have been taken aback by his ability to have such an effect on their season so far.

"I did not expect it to happen so quickly. I appreciate the confidence [shown by the coach and everyone at Benfica]," Fernandes said. "My colleagues really help me. The team has grown immensely. We have worked a lot, we have several goals to reach. I am very happy here.”

"I was speechless, I was not expecting it, but I'm happy. It's a sign that the work is being done well. It's a unique feeling, something inexplicable, I'm in one of the best clubs in the world, it's my home, that's where I graduated." 

Technically proficient with an athletic build and an eye for goal, Fernandes has completed over half of his attempted dribbles and won more than 50% of his aerial duels this season, as well as boasting a passing accuracy of over 82% in the Portuguese top-flight and the UEFA Champions League.

His ability to distribute the balls is mirrored by his skills to win it back; Fernandes completes on average two tackles a game and wins 3.5 fouls per game in the Primeira Liga; the fifth-highest in the league.

Such well-rounded statistics promise a bright future for Fernandes, who is being monitored by the likes of Juventus and Manchester United. If his progress in 2019 rivals the strides he made in 2018, it won't be long before the precocious young Portuguese starlet is propelled among the footballing elite.