Manchester United to Benfica
Benfica have announced today the signing of Manchester United’s Bebe on a four-season contract after drawn-out negotiations between the two clubs. This spells the end of the player’s time in England, a time that he surely does not look at fondly, having been labeled a “flop” at Manchester United. Bebe has already been pictured wearing Benfica’s jersey and will join up with the team shortly. This is Benfica’s second Portuguese signing of the summer, following the club’s announcement of Eliseu’s purchase yesterday.
Bebe has been labeled a “flop” almost ever since joining Manchester United from Vitoria Guimarares in 2010, and for somewhat good reason. The winger arrived at Old Trafford after Sir Alex Ferguson had been recommended him by scout Carlos Queiroz. In fact, as he later admitted, Ferguson had never actually seen Bebe play, but acted on the recommendation. Bebe was signed for an eye-watering 7.4 million pounds, an enormous sum for a player who had not yet played a game in the Portuguese top flight. The winger remained at Manchester United for the 2010-2011 season, despite rumors that he would leave on loan. Immediately demoted to the reserves, Bebe played the majority of the season in that category as he familiarized himself with the English style of play. As his play for the reserves improved, Bebe was given time with the first team, most notably scoring against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the League Cup and against Buraspor in the Champions League. All-in-all, it was a relatively successful first season for Bebe, though he couldn’t shake the label of “Ferguson’s flop.”
Since that time, Bebe has been loaned out to Besiktas, Rio Ave, and Pacos Ferreira. After an injury ridden time on loan at Besiktas, Bebe was loaned to Portuguese side Rio Ave for the 2012-2013 season, where he found playing time more easy to come by than at United. Following his promising loan to Rio Ave, another loan was arranged for him at Pacos Ferreira last season. At Pacos, Bebe saw time in both the Liga Zon Sagres and the Europa League, impressing especially in the Liga Zon Sagres. Despite Pacos narrowly escaping relegation, Bebe managed to score 12 goals in 27 times from the wing, finishing the season as the league’s top-scoring Portuguese player.
His label as a “flop” may be a bit premature. Still only 24, Bebe still has the best years of his career ahead of him. And with stars set to leave Benfica this season, space may open up for the winger, where he can truly show his skill-set. Jorge Jesus has a knack of getting the best out of players and developing raw talent, so this move may be exactly what Bebe needs.