The latest name to be linked with Benfica is Orlando City striker Cyle Larin, who is one of the hottest properties in the MLS at the moment. For more information on the player, we chatted with Orlando City photographer Nélson Lucindo, and Planet Benfica's Neil Fernandes.
Larin played college soccer for the Connecticut Huskies, before joining Orlando City in 2015. He was the first pick of the 2015 MLS draft, becoming the first Canadian player to receive this honour. The youngster bagged 17 goals in 27 games in his debut season, breaking the goalscoring record for a rookie, and winning the Rookie of the Year award. This season, Larin has continued to find the net on a consistent basis, scoring 9 goals in 18 appearances. He is already a regular for the Canadian national team. If he were to sign for Benfica, Larin would be the third Canadian international in the club's history, after Fernando Aguiar and Steven Vitória. He would also be the highest profile signing from the MLS since the arrival of Freddy Adu from Real Salt Lake in 2007.
Larin is one of a dying breed, an old-fashioned centre-forward! He likes to throw his weight around and battle with opposing defenders, wearing them down over the course of the game. He is good with his back to goal, but he is also a poacher, as his goalscoring record attests.
The 21-year old closely resembles Kostas Mitroglou in both his body shape and playing style. He is tall and strong, providing a focal point to the attack. Like Mitroglou, he is not particularly quick, but he is a composed finisher.
The Canadian has impressive strength and stamina. Standing at 6'2", he is an imposing figure, and he regularly outmuscles his marker. He can finish with either foot, holds up the ball well, and is tremendous in the air. He can unleash a thunderous shot with very little back-lift.
Larin is not the fastest of strikers, and he is not much of a dribbler. As such, he is not the kind of player that can conjure up a goal out of nothing. Instead, he is reliant on good service from the midfield, so his productivity will drop when this is lacking, such as when Kaká was injured earlier this year. At 21, he is still pretty raw, but he has bags of potential.
At the moment, Benfica are thought to be the only club in the running, but if he maintains his impressive form, there is bound to be more interest.
Larin is said to be valued at around $10 million (€9.1 million), but in reality, Orlando are likely to settle for less than half of that amount, together with one or two players on loan. They are currently in need of a centre-back and a winger. Since the youngster is still partially owned by the MLS, the league would be entitled to 50% of the transfer fee if he is sold before January 2017, and 33% if he departs after this date.
How he would fit in at Benfica
Given the number of quality forwards already at Benfica, Larin would definitely be a long-term project. According to Record, the Eagles would be willing to loan him back to Orlando to aid his development. A loan spell in Europe or a run of games for Benfica B would also be options.
Likelihood of a move to Lisbon
5/10. When Larin decides to move on, Benfica is a likely destination, given their existing partnership with Orlando City. Former SLB youth players Estrela, Rafael Ramos and Thierry Graça have all spent time with the American club in recent seasons. The main question is whether Benfica are ready to make a move right now.
Full name: Cyle Larin
DOB: 17th April 1995 (Age 21)
Club: Orlando City SC
Position: Centre forward
Height: 1.87 m
Preferred foot: Both