Premier League rivals Southampton and Crystal Palace are allegedly in a two-way battle to sign Benfica’s versatile defender Andre Almeida this summer transfer window, according to The Sun.
It is understood that both teams sent scouts to watch the 26-year-old during Benfica’s season-opening victory in the Portuguese Super Cup, seeing off top-flight rivals Guimares comfortably.
And, despite trying to persuade Almeida to remain in Portugal for another season, Benfica are currently preparing themselves to be faced with formal offers from their Premier League admirers.
Would Almeida bring the right quality to the Premier League?
With reports from BBC Sport today also claiming that Crystal Palace are on the verge of announcing a season-long loan for Manchester United utility man Timothy Fosu-Mensah, it is clear that Southampton could take massive strides in securing Andre Almeida if they try and act quickly.
The 26-year-old has been an impressive member of Benfica’s first-team since arriving in 2011, featuring 150 times in the past six years, and he has the experience to have an impact at St Mary’s.
Perhaps the most appealing feature about Almeida is his versatility, able to slot in adeptly at either full-back role, as a central defender or even as a deeper, holding midfielder in front of the defence.
Due to his origins as a midfielder he has a great sense of reading game situations, more often than not able to anticipate opponents’ passes and cut them out, and he’s composed once in possession.
He is also strong in the air – a key attribute should he move to the Premier League – and his physicality means he can hold up the ball well, or equally shrug off attackers with relative ease.
After months of conjecture regarding Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk’s future– it has almost turned into a will he, won’t he situation with Liverpool – a definitive outcome is still no clearer and the new Premier League campaign is now just a matter of days away.
It seems that Southampton aren’t willing to let him leave, but equally won’t have him anywhere near the first-team squad due to his desire – as reported by Sky Sports in recent weeks – to leave St Mary’s during the summer window.
So making a move for Almeida could prove to be a smart decision; if Van Dijk does leave, there’s a decent and proven player to replace him, and if he stays then it’s adding some key strength in depth to the club.
And for a fee of around £8 million a move for the Portuguese international wouldn’t exactly be breaking the bank, so new manager Mauricio Pellegrino could do a lot worse than lining-up a swoop for Almeida.