Ever since Tiemoue Bakayoko’s success on loan last season, Milan have been searching for a profile younger but similar to that of the Frenchman.
Milan have found a player that was tailor made for their requirements in Florentino Luis. Benfica have Rossoneri icon Rui Costa as their sporting director, and it is widely reported that Milan have been in talks with the Portuguese club since December and with talks now having intensified further.
Florentino has been compared to N’Golo Kante and seems to be yet another jewel from the esteemed Benfica academy. Known for players such as Angel di Maria, Eusebio and Joao Felix, recently Florentino Luis has broken out. Here Rohit Rajeev takes a look at what the 20-year-old brings…
Position: CM, DM
Position and pre-Benifica days
Florentino joined Benifica’s youth academy when he was 10 years old, and due to his intelligent reading of the game and defensive skill set he had a meteoric rise to the top. The then-Benifica youth coach Bruno Lage often deployed him in central midfield, and when Lage was promoted to be the coach of the senior squad he brought Florentino with him.
He played his first game in a 10-0 drubbing of Nacional and impressed his coach so much in that match that Bruno Lage started using him more often in the starting XI.
Florentino Luis is very similar to a player like Claude Makelele, who is know for making the holding role or the anchor role very famous in football – although Luis is taller and more agile than Makelele was.
Style of play
A key component to understand Luis’ style of play is the system employed by Bruno Lage. He uses a modern adaptation of a 4-4-2 which sees high tempo and plays posession football. When in possession full backs push forward and wingers mover into the centre, with one central midfielder pushing forward and Luis staying back. A forward drops back to create a passing option between the lines and this creates an overload in the centre.
Florentino Luis sits deeper and forms a passing triangle which brings the ball out from the back. Luis tries to pick out a pass to more advanced players or a player between the lines while distributing the ball. He is also tasked with stopping counter attacks when Benfica lose the ball.
The core of his talents lie in his defensive abilities and understanding of the game in a mental sense. In addition to his talents, Florentino’s high work rate makes him an eccentric and tenacious force on the midfield of the Lisbon-based club.
He uses various techniques to study his opponents moves before deciding to challenge for the ball. He tries to read his opponent’s body posture, the pressure he is under and what passing lanes he has so as to cut them off – before eventually dispossessing them.
Florentino’s highly apt timing for all his tackles ensures he dispossess them cleanly and doesn’t give away many fouls, while the same can’t really be said for Milan’s current anchor man Ismael Bennacer, who already has 12 bookings in the league.
As explained earlier, Lage’s high intensity passing game is based on interchange in positions and quick movement of the ball. Luis is a pivot in constructing the attack: he always looks for runs made by his team-mates and picks them out with incisive passes, and his knack of analysing options well is why his pass completion stands at 93%.
Like all young players, Luis needs to improve and gain experience in terms of positioning and tactical reading of the game. Often his aggressive nature comes as his undoing when he rushes into a challenge and gets dragged out of position creating space for opponents to pass through. Florentino should learn to judge his surroundings also a bit better.
Due to his aggressive pressing nature he also tends to get side-stepped by opponents who are faster than him as seen in the image below.
Portugal have recently become a hotbed for talent and Florentino has become a player that could fit many systems due to his qualities. Although there are some mistakes which can be ironed out with more playtime it is worth nothing that so much progress has been made by Luis without him playing a full season.
With Milan’s need for a partner for Bennacer almost desperate at this stage, and the emphasis being on young talent, Florentino could be a scalp at the right price and it is no coincidence that the likes of Manchester United are also linked.
Stats for the season