US youngster signs new deal at Benfica

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Texas native Keaton Parks has signed a new deal with reigning Portuguese champions Benfica.

[ MORE: Mourinho starts mind games ]

The 20-year-old midfielder arrived in the Portuguese capital last summer and made his debut for the first team in the Portuguese Cup in November.

He has now signed a new one-year contract extension after an impressive start to life at Benfica. Also, it’s pretty badass that he has his first name on the back of his shirt. Just saying.

Parks’ career path saw him move from Plano, Texas to Portuguese LigaPro (second tier) side Varzim in 2015 after he was scouted by Varzim after playing against them for NPSL side Liverpool Warriors, his club side in Texas.

At Varzim he made his way into their first team as a teenager in 2016-17 and that led to him joining Benfica in the summer to play for their reserve team in LigaPro.

Parks told Benfica’s website that he has been delighted with his start at the Estadio da Luz.

“I feel very good, I’m very excited to start a new stage at Benfica, to continue my journey here and to have my opportunity with the main team and the B team as I move forward,” Parks said. “As a new team, I did not have high expectations, I did not know what to expect, but it has been a fantastic experience.  Playing with the reserve team and to have my chance with the main team as well: it’s been fantastic.

“Training with them every day, playing at the weekend, it has been good. The team is working well this year. We are getting to know each other, to learn how one another plays, to create chemistry in the team. It’s been a good experience. The coach helps me a lot, all the coaches help me in the B team. My colleagues talk to me a lot, they help me and I think I’ve been developing a lot since I arrived. ”

Below is a look at Parks doing his stuff in midfield for Benfica’s reserve team, scoring an equalizer from outside the box against their fierce rivals Sporting Lisbon.

Holding down a starting spot for Benfica’s reserve squad and being part of their first team is no mean feat and with the U.S. U-20 side calling up Parks for a training camp in London earlier this year, he will surely get his chance very soon for the U.S. youth national teams.

Benfica’s reputation as a breeding ground for some of the top young talent in world soccer (Angel di Maria, David Luiz and Ederson to name a few) means that Parks will likely get plenty more chances with the first team as he develops.

His aim is to keep pushing hard for a first team spot with the Portuguese giants.

“Continue in Benfica, work hard and, if everything goes well, have more opportunities in the main team, more minutes in the games and prove my quality,” Parks added.

Remember the name: Keaton Parks.

Teenage sensation to Manchester United?

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Reports out of Portugal say that 16-year-old Umaro Embalo has signed for Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho and his agent, Jorge Mendes, appear to have pounced to sign a gem from their homeland in Portugal.

Portuguese outlet Record say a deal has been agreed between Benfica and United for Embalo who the Red Devils had bid $7.5 million for back in the summer.

Per the report, Real Madrid offered over $13 million for Embalo but they state the promising forward has agreed to join United and will arrive at Old Trafford in January when the transfer window opens.

Embalo has scored 15 goals in 18 games for Portugal’s U-17 side and also has five goals in 12 games for Benfica’s youth team this season, which included two appearances against United in the UEFA Youth League.

Able to play on the right where he cuts inside on his left foot, Embalo arrived at Benfica in 2014 and is regarded as one of the top prospects in the country.

Although Embalo will initially link up with United’s youth teams, Mourinho has shown a willingness to persist with youngsters in the first team since he took charge of the Red Devils with the likes of Marcus Rashford breaking through and the likes of Scott McTominay and Axel Tuanzebe included in multiple squads.

Check out the video below to see some fine strikes from Embalo for Benfica and Portugal.

VIDEO: Man United ooze class after consoling teenage goalkeeper

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Wednesday was a big night for Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar.

The 18-year-old was making his debut in the UEFA Champions League and in doing so he became the youngest-ever goalkeeper to play in the competition, jumping ahead of the likes of Iker Casillas to set a new, hugely impressive, record.

Still, the night did not end well for the Belgian youngster.

[ MORE: United targeted Benfica’s goalkeeper ]

With Marcus Rashford‘s free kick floating into the box from out wide, he caught the ball but then stepped back over his own goal line… taking the ball with him.

Goal-line technology showed the ball had gone over and United were awarded the goal and won 1-0.

At the final whistle the teenager was stunned but Romelu Lukaku was one of the many United players who took time to console the distraught teenager.

Classy from Lukaku.

Even if Jose Mourinho did admit afterwards that United had targeted the teenager…

Mourinho: Tactics involved targeting young Benfica backstop

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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho knew that promising Benfica backstop Mile Svilar would be facing some big nerves.

The 18-year-old was making his UEFA Champions League debut, and Mourinho instructed his Red Devils to challenge the backstop at every turn.

[ RECAP: Benfica 0-1 Man Utd ]

That paid off when Svilar carried Marcus Rashford‘s free kick into the goal, the lone marker of a 1-0 loss that keeps United atop Group A and Benfica three points behind second- and third place.

“I knew how good the goalkeeper was, I told the players that. We had a little bit of a strategy, especially on set-pieces to make him uncomfortable. We put men around him on corners so he cannot come out. He risks a lot, but only top keepers do that. He was unlucky for the goal,” Mourinho said.

Svilar looked dejected after the game, apologizing to fans at the Estadio da Luz and getting consolation from a fellow Belgian in Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku.

Nemanja Matic laid out United’s strategy a bit more, from the BBC:

“The manager said to us to try and shoot and get some crosses towards their goalkeeper because he is young and playing in his first game. This is football and I know he is a great goalkeeper and I wish him well for the future.

“We had control, some difficulties in the first 30 minuets but then we controlled the pitch. We used our experience. We could not find the second goal but did not make any mistakes at the back.”

Rashford limped out of the game, and Mourinho says he initially thought it was cramps. Instead, it’s a problem with his left knee. Simon Peach of the Press Association quotes Mourinho as hoping the injury is not bad.

United completed more than 500 passes, doubling Benfica’s production. Some have been critical of Mourinho’s penchant to play it safe, and he winked at them after the match in calling his tactics “a crime.”

“We were in control, David De Gea did not have one save to make. I never felt we could concede a goal and were solid defensively. Sometime I feel being good defensively is a crime, but that is a way of getting results.”

Barcelona nabs influential Benfica fullback Nelsinho

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Barcelona’s summer has been relatively quiet on the transfer front, though inking Lionel Messi to a contract extension carries a lot of weight.

Thursday changed that, in part, as Barca added one for now and the future in Portuguese full back Nelson Semedo (pending a medical).

“Nelsinho” was the ninth-top performer in Portugal’s top flight with Benfica last season.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

The 23-year-old has six caps for Portugal, and played in the Confederations Cup though he was not on the nation’s EURO winning side.

Semedo has 65 senior appearances for Benfica with three goals and 12 assists. He was linked to Premier League side Newcastle United earlier this summer.