Besides the lucrative sales of Gonçalo Guedes and Hélder Costa, the signings of Filipe Augusto and Pedro Pereira, and the departure of Adel Taarabt to Genoa, there was plenty more transfer activity at Benfica during January. The majority of these transactions were outgoing loan deals. In the second of this two-part feature, we run through the foreign players that departed.
24-year old winger Benítez was signed from Argentinean champions Lanús in the summer, and produced some lively cameos in preseason before he was loaned out to SC Braga. The move was seen as the ideal way for him to adapt to European football, but things did not go according to plan; Benítez made just two starts and three substitute appearances for the Arsenalistas. Benítez has now returned to his homeland with Boca Juniors, who he has joined on loan until summer 2018. The transfer is believed to include an option to buy.
After struggling for fitness last term at Reading, Dutch winger John was given another chance in the Championship this season with Wolverhampton Wanderers. The 24-year old was unable to claim a first team place, playing just 71 minutes of football before his loan was terminated in January. He has now joined Deportivo de La Coruña's relegation battle for the remainder of the current season, in his fourth loan spell since 2014. He is contracted to Benfica until 2019.
The Serbian international joined Sampdoria on a permanent basis as part of the deal that brought Pedro Pereira back to Benfica. Djuričić spent the first half of the season on loan to the Serie A side, and is now contracted to them until summer 2021. Sampdoria's willingness to sign the 25-year old was somewhat surprising given the uninspiring start to his career in Italy; prior to his transfer, the attacking midfielder had not made a single league start, nor registered a single goal or assist in any competition. After unsuccessful loan spells with Mainz, Southampton and Anderlecht, Djuričić will be hoping to reignite his career at his new club.
Brazilian midfielder Danilo arrived at Benfica with a burgeoning reputation, having captained his country at under-20 level, and played a combined total of 62 games for Braga and Valencia. Nonetheless, the 20-year old failed to win the trust of Rui Vitória, making just five appearances before his season-long loan deal was cut short in January. Officially still a Braga player, Jorge Mendes' client has now moved on loan to Belgian club Standard Liège. Benfica retain a €15 million buying option, which they seem very unlikely to exercise.
This January, the AC Milan youth product swapped one Serie A side for another. Relegation-threatened Pescara agreed to cancel his loan contract, enabling him join high-flying Atalanta for the rest of the campaign. The midfielder's time at Pescara was something of a nightmare; he made 18 appearances, but only tasted victory on two occasions, suffering 12 defeats. Still only 21, Atalanta are already the fifth club of Cristante's fledgling career. The Bergamo-based team are thought to have the option to sign the Italian permanently this summer, but first he must force his way into the first team equation.
Defensive midfielder Celis joined the Eagles in July, after appearing for Colombia at the Copa América. The 23-year old showed plenty of energy in his first seven appearances for Benfica, but was perhaps a little too eager to impress, making a string of needless fouls in midfield. He should now get an opportunity to play regular first team football on loan at Vitória de Guimarães, where he will remain until the end of the season.