According to Benfica's official website, 23 players attended the first day of preseason training today at the Caixa Futebol Campus in Seixal. A further 9 players will report for duty in the coming days.
The complete 32-man list features new arrivals André Horta, Branimir Kalaica and Franco Cervi, together with Kostas Mitroglou, who signed permanently from Fulham in May. André Carrillo’s name was not included, but he does not become a Benfica player until July 1st.
Significantly, Eliseu’s name was on the list, quelling speculation about his future. There was talk that the 32-year old had triggered an automatic contract extension clause earlier this year, but this has never been confirmed by the club. The Azorean is currently on international duty with Portugal at Euro 2016.
The squad has a distinctly youthful feel, with six B team regulars invited to train with the first team. The lucky six are Russian defender Vitali Lystsov (20), Polish midfielder Pawel Dawidowicz (21), Portuguese midfielders Gilson Costa (19) and João Teixeira (22), and Serbian forwards Ivan Šaponjić (18) and Luka Jović (18).
Portuguese defenders Pedro Rebocho (21) and Fábio Cardoso (22) had been tipped for first team call-ups, but neither player was among the 32 names. Rebocho could be loaned to Moreirense this season.
Portuguese winger Nuno Santos (21) was spotted in Seixal today, but may be on the verge of a loan move to newly-promoted Chaves. There is uncertainty surrounding the status of another Portuguese winger, Hélder Costa (22), who spent last season on loan at Monaco.
A number of more experienced players were also missing, casting fresh doubt over their futures at Benfica. The most high-profile absentees were Adel Taarabt, Nélson Oliveira, Ola John, Bebé, Rúben Amorim, Filip Đuričić, Derley, Steven Vitória, César and Hany Mukhtar. Bryan Cristante is also out of favour, having completed a season-long loan move to Pescara yesterday.
Two players that will get the chance to impress Rui Vitória in the next few weeks are Marçal and Rui Fonte, who return from loan spells at Gaziantepspor and Braga, respectively. Marçal is a 27-year old Brazilian left-back, who was a consistent performer for Nacional da Madeira between 2011 and 2015.
Rui Fonte is the younger brother of Portuguese international defender José Fonte. Now 26, Rui spent his formative years with Sporting and Arsenal, but never made a league appearance for either club. He netted 8 times for Braga last season, scoring the opening goal in the Portuguese cup final win over Porto.
Goalkeepers: Júlio César, Paulo Lopes and Ederson
Full-backs: André Almeida, Nélson Semedo, Álex Grimaldo, Marçal and Eliseu
Centre-backs: Luisão, Jardel, Lisandro López, Victor Lindelöf, Branimir Kalaica and Vitaly Lystsov
Central midfielders: André Horta, Ljubomir Fejsa, Andreas Samaris, Talisca, Pawel Dawidowicz, Gilson Costa and João Teixeira
Wingers: Gonçalo Guedes, Pizzi, Eduardo Salvio, Franco Cervi and Mehdi Carcela
Forwards: Kostas Mitroglou, Jonas, Raúl Jiménez, Rui Fonte, Luka Jović and Ivan Šaponjić