Kokçu Eyes Starting Spot as Valdo Backs Benfica’s Maestro João Neves
In a strategic move towards midfield dynamics, former Benfica star Valdo João Neves casts his discerning eye on the potential inclusion of talent from the Turkish acquisition.
Date: December 7, 2023
Benfica’s midfield maestro, Valdo João Neves, renowned for his stellar performances in two separate stints with the Portuguese giants, has weighed in on the prospects of young talent Orkun Kokçu finding a spot in the starting XI. Valdo, who played a pivotal role in securing two league titles, a Portuguese Cup, and a Super Cup during his five seasons with Benfica, believes that Kokçu has yet to exhibit the same impact he had during his time with Feyenoord.
Kokçu, the Turkish midfielder, has been grappling with a foot injury, impeding his full potential at Benfica. Despite being a divisive figure among fans, Valdo acknowledges the player’s qualities. He commends Kokçu for his adept passing and impressive shooting skills, highlighting that manager Schmidt, who is well-acquainted with the player, recognizes his worth as a proficient midfielder.
In Valdo’s assessment, Kokçu possesses intelligence on the field and a straightforward style of play. The unfortunate injury, however, disrupted his acclimatization to Benfica’s system just as he was settling in. Valdo suggests that Kokçu’s return to the starting lineup could push Florentino out. While acknowledging Florentino’s defensive prowess, Valdo notes that Kokçu’s ability to play further up the field and execute long passes makes him a valuable option, especially if Benfica aims to adopt a more offensive approach.
Valdo finds himself in a dilemma when considering the midfield composition. With options like Florentino and João Neves, alongside the potential inclusion of Kokçu, the decision becomes complex. Valdo contemplates a potential reconfiguration, envisioning Florentino and João Neves supporting Kokçu in a more advanced role. He expresses admiration for Rafa’s performance on the wings but underscores the importance of tailoring the lineup based on the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
In the midst of these considerations, Valdo unequivocally asserts that the one player who should remain non-negotiable in the lineup is João Neves. He lauds Neves as the team’s grand maestro, emphasizing his indispensability to Benfica’s success.
Turning attention to the attacking front, Valdo refrains from making definitive choices, attributing the challenge of replacing Gonçalo Ramos to a stylistic mismatch. Benfica, according to Valdo, thrives on an associative playing style with creativity from the midfield, rather than relying on crosses and depth. The former Benfica star suggests that Tengstedt, Musa, and Arthur Cabral would benefit from a playing style that involves more crossing, a departure from Ramos’ more involved role in the overall gameplay.
As Benfica navigates its tactical choices, Valdo’s insights add another layer to the ongoing discussion surrounding the team’s optimal lineup, offering fans and pundits alike a glimpse into the intricate decision-making process within the club.