Benfica splash cash on new keeper

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With the World Cup hogging the spotlight, it’s trickier to effectively report on the domestic developments.

Nevertheless, the latest juicy bit from Portugal is too good to pass up and a flabbergasted Portugeezer has to share what is going on at Benfica.

While the national team was getting ready for the clash against Brazil, Benfica quietly announced the signing of Spanish goalkeeper Roberto Jiménez, which would hardly be news if it wasn’t for the fact the former Atlético Madrid player cost €8.5M.

If you’re thinking “I bet that’s a typo”...well, you’re wrong because Benfica have to announce their transfers to the Portuguese securities market commission and the figure is unmistakable.

Now, let’s all calm down and analyze for a second what the Eagles have just done: Quim, their first-choice goalkeeper throughout the 2009/2010 season, while not a world-beater is a good keeper who has been at the club since 2004.

At 34, he’s not getting any younger, but he wasn’t the weak link of the team last season and he could always pass on his experience to a younger, promising custodian.

Still, with his contract expiring this summer, what did Jesus and Rui Costa decide to do? Let him go. Then again, there’s always the argument that Jesus had already stated he wanted a keeper capable of winning matches for his side.

Portuguese number one Eduardo was rumoured to be on his way to Estádio da Luz, but his minimum release fee of €4 millions quickly cooled down any interest from the reigning champions.

Argentinean international Sergio Romero and Spaniard David de Gea were some of the other options mooted, but the problem remained the same: they were all perceived as expensive.

So finally, after scouring the world for a goalkeeper good enough to save shots from God knows where, the club made up their mind and spent the lavish amount of €8.5M on Atletico Madrid’s third-choice goalkeeper, 24 year-old Roberto Jiménez.

Whether he’s good or not, truth is both De Gea and Asenjo are regarded as better shot-stoppers and that’s why Atletico loaned him out to Zaragoza last season in the first place.

And even if he turns out to be that good, the universal laws of supply-and-demand tell us that €8.5M is not the price you pay for a want-away keeper who didn’t play a league match in the 2008/2009 season for Recreativo Huelva.

With neither Atletico nor Jimenez keen on staying together, Benfica could have either got him on the cheap or looked elsewhere for a cheaper alternative (e.g.: Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio or Nacional goalkeeper Rafael Bracali).

Financially irresponsible and sportingly questionable, this signing seems more of a Woody Allen-ish fetish than a well thought out strategic decision to improve the club’s squad.

It shall be interesting to see his first performances for the Eagles nonetheless...