Benfica star Ederson has been targeted by Manchester City
Less than a year after his controversial gamble to bring in Claudio Bravo and bomb out England No 1 Joe Hart backfired spectacularly, the Manchester City manager is poised to smash the world-record transfer fee for another goalkeeper.
His belief is that Ederson can not only play with his feet – a pre-requisite for Guardiola in a goalkeeper – but also do the fundamentals by saving shots, something that Bravo struggled to do last season. For a £34.9m fee you would hope so.
But just who is the 22-year-old Brazilian who is poised to finally overtake Gianluigi Buffon’s 16-year record as the world’s most expensive keeper?
Born in the suburbs of Sao Paulo, Ederson Santana de Moraes – to give him his full name – started in the youth academy of his home-city club. After a year he was picked up as a 16-year-old by Benfica but failed to make an impact and dropped down to second tier club Ribeirao where he impressed enough in 30 appearances to prompt Rio Ave to take him back to Portugal’s top flight.
It was there that Benfica began to regret their decision. A string of fine performances for Rio Ave saw Ederson capped by Brazil at under-23 level before he returned to the Lisbon giants in 2015, initially as No 2 to his Brazilian compatriot Julio Cesar.
But when Cesar was ruled out for the last three months of the 2015-16 season, Ederson stepped up to the plate, helping them win their final 10 League games of the season to lift the domestic title for the 35th time.
Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola reunited in the Manchester derby Thu, April 27, 2017
Click for the best snaps of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola greeting each other before the Manchester derby
Play slideshow Getty Images 1 of 9
Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola were reunited on the touchline…
The kid Ederson did it
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho
This season Ederson established himself as No 1 at the Estadio da Luz, playing a big part as Benfica secured a League and Cup double, conceding only 12 goals in the League season and keeping the second highest number of clean sheets (17) behind Porto’s Iker Casillas.
The highlight of a number of eye-catching performances came in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund when he saved a penalty and made five more outstanding saves.
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
That display prompted praise from some good judges. “Goalkeepers are there to defend and save the team when circumstances require it,” said none other than Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho. “The kid Ederson did it.”
And United and Holland goalkeeping legend Edwin van der Sar said: “Ederson has already shown in the Champions League that his talent is undisputed. He is always focused and has an excellent reading of the game, even without the ball.
“I think Ederson needs another kind of challenge to feel another kind of pressure. But the talent is all there, he only needs to prove it under other conditions. I have no doubt that with the qualities he has can overcome anything.”
At 6ft 2ins he is taller than Bravo, can play off either foot and is happy to receive back passes even under pressure from opponents. His distribution is excellent either with passes or throws.
And although Guardiola likes his goalkeepers to start moves from the back, Ederson will bring a new weapon to Manchester City – his ability to smash a goal kick virtually the length of the pitch. He actually claimed an assist last season when Benfica scored two touches after one of his goal kicks.
Ederson’s arrival for such a huge fee suggests Bravo will become City’s No 2 and it also closes the door on any hopes fans may have harboured that the popular Hart could return to the fold after his year’s exile in Italy.
Torino would like him to stay but they cannot afford him while Hart is keen to protect his England place by returning to the Premier League.
He said farewell to Torino fans following a 5-3 win over Sassuolo in their final game by saying on Instagram: “Thank you Torino… I am so proud to have played for your special football club. The way you have treated me and my family is something that we will never forget.
“I will forever support Torino for the rest of my days. I have met so many special people and this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.
“I will come back to see you all one day so it is bye for now, enjoy an amazing summer.”