Following rumoured interest in Rodrigo Bentancur, Ignacio Camacho, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Walace, Benfica continue to be linked with a plethora of central midfielders. The latest name in the newspapers is Atlético Madrid’s Matías Kranevitter. We learn more about the 23-year old Argentinean from Jordan Russell of Futebol Planeta.
Matías Kranevitter enjoyed a fine footballing education, growing up at River Plate's famed academy. He went on to become a pivotal member of Marcelo Gallardo's Copa Libertadores-winning side of 2015, developing a formidable midfield partnership with the vastly-experienced Leonardo Ponzio. The Argentinean was sold to Atlético Madrid in August 2015 for a fee of €8 million, but was immediately loaned back to River to continue his development and participate in the 2015 Club World Cup. After making his Atlético debut this January, Kranevitter struggled to secure a place in Diego Simeone’s side, starting just 3 league games before the end of the season. That didn’t prevent his selection for the Copa América, where he has appeared in Argentina's wins over Chile and Bolivia.
In terms of aggression, Kranevitter is cut from the same cloth as Atlético coach Diego Simeone, but he is more gifted than his compatriot ever was. He is comfortable with the ball at his feet, and has a great passing range. Despite his relative youth, the Argentinean has proven himself in a variety of roles in several different formations, most notably at the base of a midfield diamond or in a double-pivot.
Kranevitter is often compared to another River Plate academy graduate, Javier Mascherano, for his ability to break up play and initiate moves from deep. In possession of the ball, he is more reminiscent of Xavi. He understands when to keep things simple, but is not afraid to spread the play and inject some urgency into proceedings when required.
Flexibility is Kranevitter's greatest attribute; he can operate as a destroyer or a playmaker, depending on what the game demands. He is the ideal player to offer balance between attack and defence.
Kranevitter has failed to win a starting berth since joining Atlético. That is nothing to be ashamed of, given that he is competing with the likes of Koke, Gabi, Augusto Fernández and Saúl Ñíguez. A loan move would enable him to gain experience and prove himself on the European stage. There is also room for improvement in his positional play, which is another reason why he has been unable to dislodge Gabi from Atléti's starting eleven.
There is some competition for Kranevitter's services. Galatasaray, Villarreal, Deportivo La Coruña and Celta Vigo have all been credited with an interest, but only Benfica and Villareal can offer him Champions League football. Benfica and Atlético share an excellent business relationship, which may provide a slight advantage.
Kranevitter is only available on loan, as Atlético still regard him as a player of great potential. He has a contract at the Estadio Vicente Calderón until summer 2020, and remains part of their long-term plans.
How he would fit in at Benfica
Strengthening the midfield is a priority for Benfica, as their options were fairly limited even before the departure of Renato Sanches. Whether Rui Vitória persists with his favoured 4-4-2 formation, or switches to a 4-2-3-1, Kranevitter could protect the back four in tandem with Ljubomir Fejsa or Andreas Samaris, allowing the team’s attacking talent to flourish ahead of him.
Likelihood of a move to Lisbon
7/10. Goal.com’s Bruno Andrade has reported that Benfica are lining up a double loan swoop for Kranevitter and Atlético forward Ángel Correa. His information is generally reliable, so it would be no surprise to see the Argentinean pair arriving on a temporary basis this summer. The Eagles need to reinforce their midfield, and Kranevitter would be a cost-effective addition.
Full name: Claudio Matías Kranevitter
DOB: 21st May 1993 (Age 23)
Club: Atlético Madrid
Position: Defensive midfield
Height: 1.79 m
Preferred foot: Right