Eliseu’s contract expires at the end of this month, and although the press have speculated that his contract has been automatically renewed, there has been no confirmation from the player or the club. If Eliseu departs this summer, he could be replaced by Empoli’s Mário Rui, or Werder Bremen’s Santiago García. We learn more about the latter from Niklas Wildhagen of Bundesliga Fanatic.
García began his career at hometown club Rosario Central, the team from which Benfica recently signed Franco Cervi. After two seasons as a professional in Argentina, García sealed a move to Palermo. He played just 7 games during his first year in Italy, and was loaned out to Novara the following season. He then returned to his parent club to replace Italian international Federico Balzaretti, who was sold to Roma. García played 34 games as Palermo were relegated to Serie B, and fell out with the fans after he was savagely criticised for his performances. This did not put off Werder Bremen, who snapped him up in September 2013, and he has been a regular in the Bundesliga ever since. García’s contract expires in 2017, so he is likely to be sold before next season if he doesn’t renew his deal with Werder. The entire staff and squad rate him as a great guy and footballer, so losing him would be a big blow for the Germans.
García is a robust and combative left back who can get under his opponents’ skins. He has a good engine and works tirelessly on the left hand side. Despite being the sort of player who is always close to a booking, he brings a lot of creativity to the team when he goes on the attack. He has weighed in with 4 goals and 8 assists in 80 games for Werder. He can play at centre-back and left midfield in emergencies.
He has always reminded me a bit of Andree Wiedener, a left back who played over 150 games for Werder back in the 1990s and early 2000s. Like García, he was tough, diligent and committed throughout the whole match.
He reads the game fairly well and is good at making interceptions. The Argentinean likes to go forward and can find the right spaces in between the lines so as to be of value to an attack. At 6’3”, he is unusually tall for a full back, and powerful in the air. The 28-year old’s total commitment has made him a fans' favourite at the Weserstadion. He is a real workhorse.
At times he gets caught out of position when going forward. He plays on the edge and never pulls out of a tackle, so he is a yellow card walking! García has been sent off a couple of times in his career for committing challenges that strictly speaking he could have avoided. He has picked up a staggering 28 bookings and one red card in his 80 games for Werder.
García is an experienced campaigner with dual Argentinean and Spanish citizenship, making him an attractive proposition for many European clubs. Both the Portuguese and German press have reported that Benfica and Sporting are in the hunt for his services, but, according to Bild, Werder are still confident that they can convince him to sign a contract extension.
With just a year left on his current contract, García is likely to be available for around €3 or €4 million.
How he would fit in at Benfica
If Eliseu doesn’t renew his contract, there is a vacancy at left back. Álex Grimaldo should play more games in his second season, but he will need competition, and since the Spaniard is still only 20, Rui Vitória may opt for experience rather than promoting Pedro Rebocho (21) or Yuri Ribeiro (19) from Benfica B. García’s height could also be useful in games where Benfica need more of a physical presence at the back. Brazilian Marçal returns from his loan spell in Turkey this summer, but the general consensus is that he will be sold or loaned out again next season. Benfica have plenty of Argentinean players on their books, so García should feel at home in Lisbon.
Likelihood of a move to Lisbon
3/10. This transfer depends on Eliseu leaving the Estádio da Luz, and García rejecting the offer of a new contract at Werder. This is fairly unlikely, although Benfica can offer the 27-year old Champions League football, which Werder cannot.
Full name: Santiago García
DOB: 8th July 1988 (Age 27)
Club: SV Werder Bremen
Position: Left back
Height: 1.91 m
Preferred foot: Left