Benfica chairman Luis Filipe Vieira has admitted that his club may not be able to hang onto their key players if they miss out on Champions League football at the end of this season.
Benfica made the group stage of the competition this season but failed to finish in either of the top two positions in Group C which saw them eliminated from the tournament.
The Portuguese giants have a number of star players who have been linked with high profile and big money Premier League moves and Vieira has admitted his club may struggle to keep those targets if they miss out on Champions League football.
“In the summer we made a great effort and kept the whole group, the elimination of Champions was obviously a blow – I do not think power can repeat the effort we made in the summer again,” he told A Bola.
To examine what that could mean for Benfica, you only have to look at the vast number of players who have been linked with moves away from the club in the press.
Oscar Cardozo (Manchester City), Nicolas Gaitan (Manchester United), Nemanja Matic (Arsenal, Chelsea and both Manchester clubs), Ezequiel Garay (Manchester United) and Lazar Markovic (Chelsea) are all contemporary examples of players who could leave the club.
The Champions League is such an important competition in contemporary football for the higher standard which allows players to develop and get better but more significantly because of the finances involved.
Although Benfica qualified for the tournament this season and last season, they have failed to make it out of the group stage on both occasions, which does mean a loss in revenue and an impact on the club.
Fortunately for Benfica, they are currently in a solid position in the Primeira Liga, officially third but joint top of the table with FC Porto and Sporting Lisbon on 33 points.
They have exactly the same home record as their two main rivals and they are yet to lose a game away from home, only pushed down officially to third because of their inferior goal difference to the top two.
Get ready for a potential fire sale if they slip down to fourth by the summer.
image: © Crystian Cruz