Andreas Samaris’s Benfica career looked all but over a month ago.
The experienced Greek international had fallen down the pecking order with the Primeira Liga giants and appeared certain to leave the Estadio da Luz before the January transfer window slammed shut.
Newcastle United were the most heavily linked, Rafa Benitez seemingly attempting to finally bring Samaris to England having been left disappointed in the summer of 2017.
According to O Jogo, however, Samaris eventually turned down a move to St James’ Park to stay in Portugal. He even wants a new contract with Benfica.
Record adds that the former Olympiakos enforcer was also offered a two-and-a-half year deal at Aston Villa worth £3.5 million. But he had no interest in leaving Benfica for a side who are tenth in the second tier of English football. Understandably so, perhaps.
At the time, it seemed that Samaris had made a mistake given his lack of opportunities at Benfica. But maybe it was the right decision after all.
The 29-year-old has started each of Benfica’s last four Primeira Liga games now, including Sunday’s remarkable 10-0 thrashing of Nacional.
He has gone from bench-warmer to key player in the blinking of an eye and is now targeting a fourth league title rather than fighting relegation with Newcastle or battling in the middle of the Championship.