After a summer of almost constant speculation, Rafa Silva sealed his move to Benfica on transfer deadline day. An agreement in principle was reached over a fortnight ago, but the deal was delayed by a dispute over agents' fees. The transfer was finally confirmed at 00:15 on Thursday 1st September, on Benfica's English language Twitter account.
Benfica paid Braga €16.4 million for the 23-year old Portugal international, who has signed a five-year contract with the club. He has a €60 million release clause. The deal is something of a coup for the Eagles, as he had been attracting interest from a number of top European clubs, including Benfica's fierce rivals FC Porto. Rafa will be officially unveiled when he returns from international duty next week.
As part of the deal that brought Rafa to the Estádio da Luz, Rui Fonte (pictured below) and Óscar Benítez were sent in the opposite direction. 26-year old forward Fonte has joined Braga permanently, on a three-year deal. It is his second spell at the club. 23-year old winger Benítez has moved on a season-long loan, the perfect way for him to acclimatise to European football after his recent arrival from Argentinean champions Lanús.
Besides the Rafa signing, perhaps the biggest story of the day was the sale of Mehdi Carcela to La Liga outfit Granada. The 27-year old has penned a four-year contract with the Spanish side, but Benfica have retained 25% of his economic rights. Carcela produced some entertaining cameos during his one and only season in Lisbon, but he became surplus to requirements after the Encarnados brought in five new wingers this summer.
21-year old goalkeeper Miguel Santos has joined Port Vale, who play in England's League One, two tiers below the Premier League. The Portuguese youngster was Benfica B's first-choice stopper last season, keeping 10 clean sheets in 37 appearances. The Eagles' have maintained 50% of his economic rights.
Cape Verdean midfielder Carlos Ponck has been loaned to Liga NOS newcomers GD Chaves. The 21-year old spent the second half of last season on loan at Paços de Ferreira.
Portuguese youth international Raphael Guzzo was sold to Catalan club CD Reus Deportiu, who were recently promoted to the Spanish second division. The 21-year old midfielder has been loaned to both Chaves and Tondela in recent seasons.
Manuel Coronado Plá, better known simply as "Lolo", was sold to CD Toledo, who play in Spain's third tier. The 23-year old Spanish forward has been unable to break into the Benfica first-team, following loan spells in his homeland with CD Lugo and Cádiz CF.
Benfica have retained 50% of both Guzzo and Lolo's economic rights, and have the first refusal to re-sign the players in the future.
On Tuesday, Benfica announced the departures of two other players: João Nunes and Nélson Oliveira. Benfica B captain Nunes has signed permanently for Polish club Lechia Gdańsk. The 20-year old centre-back has inked a three-year deal, and links up with another ex-Benfica defender, Steven Vitória. The Portuguese under-20 international played 52 games for Benfica B, but never appeared for the first-team.
Nélson Oliveira is the latest recruit of Championship side Norwich City. The 25-year old striker has been handed a four-year contract by what is already his third British club, following loan spells with Swansea City and Nottingham Forest. Oliveira has won 16 caps for Portugal, but has never scored double figures in any of his seven seasons as a professional.