Brazilian forward Talisca stole the headlines for Benfica on Tuesday night, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Monaco in the UEFA Champions League. It was his first goal in the tournament, but a continuation of his fine form since arriving in Portugal this summer.
The Benfica No. 30 was well-known in Brazil before arriving, but he has never shown anything like the goalscoring form he has offered of late—scoring eight goals in nine Liga Sagres games.
Such a run of form attracts attention, and the 20-year-old is compiling quite the list of admirers. Sky Sports' Adam Bate reports that Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are all among those to take a look at Portuguese football's rising star.
David Crossan @UEFAcomDavidC
#Talisca gets the front page treatment after his winner for @SL_Benfica v @AS_Monaco @ChampionsLeague #ucl http://t.co/Tg8qsRI6QJ2014-11-5 13:47:51
Talisca's rise over the past 12 months has been dramatic, coming into his own in a No. 10 role first with Bahia and now Benfica. Having moved around a variety of positions when first breaking through at first-team, he now appears to have found his ideal role.
Over the course of recent weeks, he has developed a knack for arriving in the box at the right time, bursting powerfully beyond opponents with the ball and finishing with his favoured left foot.
As Brazilian playmakers go, Talisca is far from typical. Standing at over six feet tall, he is quick and powerful but is not the typical trickster that his country produces in abundance. His athleticism gives him a different set of skills and, thus far, he is proving difficult to contain.
Despite taking his time to break into a regular starting berth at Bahia, his potential was always clear and, indeed, fans were keen on his regular inclusion from early on.
According to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho earlier this season, the west London club have already watched the Brazilian over the course of two years. The Express' Ben Jefferson reports the Chelsea manager as saying, "Talisca is one of two players we've been scouting since 2012."
Those comments came just days after the Portuguese manager told Portuguese television that there was real interest in Talisca from England this summer. Per Mail Online's Sean Gallagher, Mourinho said:
I think Benfica hired well. They say Talisca is unknown, but he is only so unknown because he's only not playing in England because he doesn't have a work permit. If he had one, he would be here!
There were many English teams, great teams and important, that wanted him. Moreover, there were those who wanted to sign him, even though he could not play for now.
They wanted to sign him, put him in a minor league [on loan] and hope that eventually he came to be selected [for Brazil's national team], and would consequently then get the work permit.
Talisca was part of the Brazil under-20 squad which won the Toulon tournament earlier this summer and looks set to be a major part of the country's plans for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
That said, if his current form continues, it will only be a matter of time until he is competing with the likes of Oscar, Coutinho, Rafael Firmino and Everton Ribeiro for a berth in the senior national side.
Jan Hagen @PortuBall
26 clubs had scouts at E. da Luz last night, incl. Man United, City, Chelsea, Barça, Juventus, PSG. How many came to watch Talisca? [Record]2014-11-5 08:24:09
There is some serious competition for a space, yet Talisca's size and ability to play as a central forward means he has the potential to forge a place in Dunga's squad. His pace and power is ideal of the manager's preferred counter-attacking setup.
Brazil are in a period of reassessment as they prepare to begin a new South American qualifying campaign ahead of the 2018 World Cup, and opportunities are aplenty.
If he can maintain his form into the new year, a place in squads ahead of the summer's Copa America is entirely possible and, from there, opportunities to make himself a major star will emerge.