If the Portuguese press are to be believed, Brazilian defender Marcelo Hermes has signed a pre-contract agreement with Benfica, and will join the club on a free transfer in January. But who exactly is he? Jordan Russell, Editor of The Fantasista, tells us more.
Marcelo Hermes is a 21-year-old left back who currently plies his trade with Brazilian giants Grêmio. He hails from Sarandi, Rio Grande do Sul, and enjoyed a footballing education which saw him travel through the academies of both Figueirense and Internacional. Towards the end of 2014, Hermes was called up to train with Grêmio's first team squad for the first time. He subsequently debuted in the first round of the Campeonato Gaúcho 2015 at Porto Alegre's Arena Grêmio. He has not played for almost five months however, due to a contract dispute that resulted in him being banished from the first team squad.
Hermes already possesses numerous attributes consistent with Brazil's tradition of producing attack-minded full backs. At Benfica, he will spend the majority of the time attacking - at least domestically - which will suit his attacking instincts. Nonetheless, he also understands that full backs must strike the right balance between pushing forward and defending.
Hermes has made no secret of the fact that he looks up to Real Madrid's Marcelo. He views the Brazil international as a role model in terms of how the full back position should be played. He once said: "I look up to Marcelo. I think first of all, when I get the chance, I'll attack. However, full backs should always be thinking of their defensive responsibilities."
The youngster is strong in the air and has no problem dealing with long diagonal balls. He is quick and physically strong and has an excellent engine, which allows him to motor up and down the touchline, contributing to both phases of play. Crucially, he is a good fit for a team which tends to have a lot of possession; he is capable of keeping it simple as well as searching for a more incisive pass. He is also more than capable defensively. When given the chance, he has proved himself to be a proficient tackler, and he is willing to put his body on the line to make blocks.
There is no doubting that Hermes has the raw qualities required to succeed at Benfica. But will he have time to bed himself in as Grimaldo's replacement, or will too much be expected too soon? Besides settling in a new country and adjusting to the Liga NOS, he will have to shake off the rust from his recent period of inactivity. One of his former coaches, Luiz Felipe Scolari, spoke to Record and offered this insight into his potential:
"I don't know if he is the type of player who can go to a club like Benfica and immediately start well. I think he will need some time to adjust, but I remember he was a young man with a desire to work hard and was not afraid to hear what coaches said to him. If he continues like this, I believe he can be a useful player for Benfica."
Domestically, Flamengo are rumoured to hold an interest in Hermes. This would pose no problem financially due to the impending expiry of his contract. However, if the media are to be believed, he can almost be considered a Benfica player already. Although they are not thought to have been one of his suitors on this occasion, it is his dream to play for Bayern Munich: "I've always liked Bayern, I've always wanted to play for Bayern Munich."
Hermes' contract expires at the end of 2016, enabling him to leave Grêmio for free. He was removed from O Imortal's first team back in July, after rejecting the offer of a new contract, and he immediately proceeded to search for a new club. He is expected to earn approximately €8,000 per week in Lisbon.
How he would fit in at Benfica
According to O Jogo, Álex Grimaldo looks set to join Pep Guardiola's Manchester City for a fee in the region of €45 million, leaving a significant void to be filled. With the departure of the ex-Barcelona full back now seemingly inevitable, Benfica had to act quickly to secure a capable long-term replacement. It remains to be seen whether Hermes will be thrust straight into the limelight, or given time to acclimatise as Grimaldo was. Eliseu and Portuguese youth international Yuri Ribeiro, 19, will provide competition for the left back berth.
Likelihood of a move to Lisbon
9/10. According to various Portuguese media outlets, Hermes is within touching distance of putting pen to paper on a deal that would see him contracted to Benfica until 2022. Record say that a pre-contract agreement was signed at the beginning of this month, and barring anything unforeseen, the Brazilian will sign a five-and-a-half year contract in January.
Full name: Marcelo Hermes
DOB: January 2nd 1995 (Age 21)
Club: Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense
Position: Left back
Height: 1.77 m
Preferred foot: Left