On Wednesday, Braga broke their silence on one of the worst-kept secrets in football: the transfer of Rafa Silva to Benfica. If the papers are to be believed, the 23-year old has been the subject of a ‘tug-of-war’ between Benfica and Porto this summer, with the Eagles winning the battle just over a week ago. So why hasn’t the Portuguese international been unveiled at the Estádio da Luz? Braga have placed the blame squarely on Rafa’s agency, Onsoccer International, in a strongly-worded official statement, paraphrased below.
“On August 15th, [Braga] President António Salvador and [Benfica] President Luís Filipe Vieira reached an agreement, via phone, for the transfer of Rafa Silva. As requested, Braga authorised Benfica to negotiate a contract of employment with the player.”
“The terms of the agreement were as follows: Benfica will pay Braga €16 million for 90% of [the player’s] economic rights, negotiating and acquiring the [remaining] 10% of his economic rights from Onsoccer International - Career Management Sport SA.”
“On August 19th, Braga sent an email to Benfica containing the terms of the agreement that had been closed on August 15th, giving written permission for Benfica to conclude the agreement with the player. It was expected that all formalities for the transfer would be completed that day.”
The statement goes on to detail Onsoccer International’s demand for a €1.6 million commission for the negotiation of the transfer, which is entirely separate from any money that they would receive from Benfica for their 10% share of the player’s economic rights, or “any commission from Benfica for negotiating the player’s contract of employment”.
Braga allege that Onsoccer International were completely uninvolved in the transfer discussions, so the €1.6 million fee should not be paid by either club.
“There was no mediation between the clubs, and as far as we know, no mandate was given to Onsoccer International for the purpose of mediation. The negotiations were conducted fully between the Presidents, and so Braga cannot be burdened with the cost of a service that was not provided.”
It was also made clear that Benfica bear no responsibility for the current deadlock: “Benfica and their President Luís Filipe Vieira have demonstrated exemplary behaviour throughout the transfer process.”
The statement ends with some words of sympathy for the player himself: “Throughout the negotiations the player has shown exemplary behaviour on both a personal and professional level. However, prolonging the impasse cannot fail to affect him. (But) Braga will not fail to support the player in whatever way necessary.”
Shortly after the communication was released, Onsoccer International hit back with an equally incendiary reply, threatening legal action against Braga.
“We vehemently reject the statement released today by Braga regarding the transfer of Rafa Silva, (which conveys claims that are) notoriously false, frivolous and totally disconnected with reality and with their own contractual commitments.”
“We were contractually enabled by Braga to mediate the transfer of the player between the teams. It was only and exclusively through our action – on behalf of Braga – that it was possible to obtain an agreement in principle with Benfica.”
“We reserve the right to take legal action against Braga for such grave and defamatory statements!”
With just a week to go until the transfer window closes, Braga and Benfica face a race against time to get the deal rubber-stamped. Until Rafa is photographed in a Benfica shirt, nothing should be taken for granted.
Onsoccer International are based in Porto and represent a number of high-profile players besides Rafa, including Porto's André André, Manchester City's Fernando and ex-Porto captain Maicon.