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Gilson Benchimol exclusive: Estoril hopes; Juventus interest & playing with Bebe

Gilson Benchimol Tavares or just Gilson Benchimol (how he prefers to be called), is definitely a player worth following closely for the next couple of years.

Born and bred from Cape Verde, Benchimol is already having an impact in his first season as a senior player for GD Estoril Praia, in the Liga Portugal: four appearances coming from the bench in seven possible games, helping his side in a good start.

Last term, with Estoril U-23s, he scored 10 goals in 21 games and was deservedly awarded by the Players' Association as the best player in Liga Revelação 2021/22. A huge accomplishment, considering Portugal's talent-packed academies.

But Benchimol prefers to keep his feet on the ground for now, telling "Of course, it was very good for my confidence, but we work always as a team. It didn't changed me in any way."

Born only in 2001, he is already showing a great number of strengths, such as acceleration and pace, good finishing abilities, smart movements, agility and much required pressing skills in today's game. Gilson is preferably right footed and comfortable in playing anywhere up front, but some of his best performances came as an advanced striker. At 5'10", he is also physically sound.

The Cape Verdean arrived at GD Estoril Praia from SF Damaiense in the summer of 2020 and his development since has been remarkable.

Gilson believes that the club's U-23 coaching staff was crucial to his evolution: "When I arrived at Estoril, I felt it was totally different. At that point, I never had never been in a professional context, competitive wise.

"And the staff and I hit it off really well, helping me evolve."

And it was quite an evolution: from a right back role at his former club he was turned into a forward.

"Back then, I have always been a right back deployed more offensively, always giving support to the attack. First at Damaiense, then on loan at Real Sport Clube and Sporting Clube Linda-a-Velha".

The change to a more advanced role happened only in his last 3 years. The results since speak for themselves and now Gilson Benchimol has been called the latest 'pearl' coming from Portuguese football, as per

Along with his development came the rumours, linking him to big European clubs. Only recently, Benchimol has attracted interest from sides like Sporting CP, Juventus, AC Milan, Monaco, Nice, Sevilla, only to name a few.

Gilson doesn't seem to be carried away by the news: "Yeah, I heard some of those rumors, but my way on and off the pitch hasn't changed since, to be honest. My focus is, of course, on Estoril Praia and on our season ahead."

When asked about a league in which he believes can match his playing style and help with his development, Benchimol mentioned the Ligue 1. "It's a league with a lot of transitions, where the fastest players stand out, but ultimately I do like any of the major leagues in Europe."

Gilson Benchimol is also starting to make waves in the national team. In March, he scored his first international goal and, unsurprisingly, it was a hat-trick, against Liechtenstein: "I was really happy, it was a moment I've been waiting since the first time I was called to the national team. My personal aim is to become the team's main goalscorer."

On collective aims with Cape Verde, Gilson seemed very optimistic for the future.

"I believe we have plenty of young talent to be able to fight for a World Cup spot in the next years to come… Many are playing in some of the most important leagues in Europe," he added. Benchimol also praised the former Manchester United striker Bebé, as someone from whom he "learned a lot" in the dressing room.

Now, more than settled in his 'new' position, the youngster feels happy in Estoril and wants to someday follow the steps of Victor Osimhen and Rafael Leão. And maybe he can join them in the near future. For a former right back turned into a forward, who's to say what is impossible?

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Carlos Franco

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