On Wednesday evening, Benfica unveiled their latest signing, Filip Krovinović, who joins from Rio Ave for a reported fee of €3 million. He has signed a five-year contract with the Eagles, which includes a €45 million release clause.
The midfielder represented his hometown clubs Lokomotiva, Dinamo and NK Zagreb at youth level, before eventually making his professional debut with NK in April 2013. A move to Rio Ave followed in August 2015.
During his two seasons in Vila do Conde, Krovinović made 50 appearances, contributing 7 goals and 4 assists. Last season, the Croatian under-21 international was one of the standout performers in Portuguese football, bagging five goals and three assists in 33 games. Krovinović's performances earned him a place in UEFA's 'Liga NOS Revelations XI’, and GoalPoint's Team of the Year.
The 21-year old is an elegant and cultured attacking midfielder, with the agility and close control to dance past his opponents. In the final third, he has the creativity and vision to pick out a pass and create goalscoring opportunities for his teammates. Krovinović also possesses a powerful long-range shot.
The Croatian has spent the vast majority of his career in Portugal operating as a number 10, although he has also featured in central midfield and on the left wing on a handful of occasions. Thus far, Rui Vitória has shown no inclination to use a number 10 at Benfica, but he has hinted that a tactical revolution could be on the horizon.
So where will Krovinović be utilised for the Encarnados? Of the 186 fans that participated in our Twitter poll, 38% want him to be used as a number 8, compared to just 30% as a number 10. 13% would prefer to see him in a wide playmaker role, while the remaning 19% hope that he is loaned out to gain more experience.
In his first interview with BTV, Benfica’s newest recruit demonstrated a keen awareness of the team’s prestigious history, and an eagerness to prove himself at his new club.
“I’m happy, because I will play in the stadium where ‘King’ Eusébio, [Manuel] Bento, Nené and other great players played. I’m anxious to represent Benfica and play in this stadium when it’s full.”
“I have the opportunity to play at this great club. I chose Benfica and it will be an honour to wear this jersey. I will do everything to show that they made a good decision in signing me, and I want to repay everyone’s faith… Rui Vitória (and) the President.”
“I know that it will go well here at Benfica. Several of my teammates at Rio Ave spoke highly of Benfica to me. It is a very famous club, which has won two European cups.”
“I can play as a number 8 or a number 10, and it’s the coach Rui Vitória that will decide where he prefers me to play. What I want is to help the team.”