Portuguese leagues producing potential world-class players. This is a recurring theme in football. In fact, the three top clubs in Portugal, i.e. Benfica, Porto and Sporting CP, have made hundreds of millions of dollars selling players for an exorbitant fee. Even in just the last 12 months, players such as Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez, Vitinha, and Fabio Vieira have swapped the Iberian plains for bigger clubs. And one such player who could be on a journey like them and many others before is Benfica’s Cher Ndour.
The 18-year-old, eligible to play for Italy and Senegal, has been the success story of the Portuguese league this season. And with that has come the interest of multiple clubs looking for the first opportunity to swoop and sign him before their rivals.
The fact that he has played only one game for the senior side in his career has not deterred his suitors from trying, which shows that he has massive potential to become a real baller in the future. So, who is Cher Ndour, and how good is he?
Playing career so far
Cher Ndour was born on July 27, 2004, in Brescia, a commune in the Lombardy region in northern Italy. His father had migrated from Senegal to Italy, where he married his mother. Due to this, he has the option to represent both nations on the international stage.
Ndour’s career started at the local club ASD San Giacomo but would leave as soon as he got the chance to join Brescia, one of the biggest clubs in the region. The youngster spent four years at the club putting in brilliant performances. This made his name famous among the youth ranks in Lombardy. And thus, in 2013, Atalanta came calling, and the youngster swiftly moved to join them.
For the next seven years, he would progress through the various youth ranks of the club, even playing for the under-17s. However, his rise also came at a time when Atalnata were becoming a force in Italy and Europe. This meant that the club was attracting a lot of talent both in the senior team and youth ranks, making it now more difficult for a player to rise through the ranks.
Yesterday, Cher Ndour made his first-team debut for Benfica, coming on as a late substitute in a 5-1 vs. Vitória.
Today, he scored for Benfica B in a 2-0 win against Oliveirense.
Decent weekend for the 18-year-old Italy youth international.pic.twitter.com/9CcgVjou9k
— Zach Lowy (@ZachLowy) March 19, 2023
Ndour was hungry for more game time and, in 2020, made the bold move of moving from the Alps foot hold to the Iberian peninsula by joining Benfica. This move immediately paid off as, within one year, he went from the club’s youth ranks to play for their reserves team. In fact, when he made his debut for the Benfica B on May 2, 2021, at the age of 16 years and 279 days, he became the youngest player to do so, beating the record set by Joao Felix.
That season he would play 20 times for the reserves team and helped them finish eighth in the league table.
Cher Ndour stats
When the 2021-22 season arrived, Nodur had already become an integral part of the reserves and the under-18s. And Ndour grabbed this golden opportunity with both hands as he made a combined 39 appearances in the season.
The teenager would experience success for both the reserves and under-18s that season. Playing 26 matches for Benfica B, Ndour helped them finish fifth with 57 points, their highest tally in the last four seasons. However, he would win his first trophy with the under-18s as they triumphed in the UEFA Youth League. Ndour was one of their star players playing nine out of ten games scoring three goals and providing one assist. This was Benfica’s first title win in the competition.
And Ndour has continued his brilliant form this season despite his team struggling. The midfielder has scored four goals and provided one assist in the league. He has also continued his association with the under-18s playing six matches in the UEFA Youth League.
This performance finally caught the eyes of senior team manager Roger Schmidt who first called him to train with the first team before making his debut against Vitoria on March 18, 2023.
CHER NDOUR, A STAR IS BORN ✨ pic.twitter.com/oeFNC4V9cB
— Dønatello (@xaviprop) March 18, 2023
Cher Ndour scout report
Cher Ndour’s role as a midfielder can be described as a ‘ball hunter’. The teenager doesn’t prefer to play in a single position but rather roams in between the middle and attacking third and uses the positioning of the ball to deploy his effective press. In short, he uses his brilliant defensive skills but in the attacking areas to win the ball for his team, like players do in the famous Gegenpressing system.
The reason behind his effectiveness is his large 1.9-metre frame combined with his physical attributes that allows him to go toe-to-toe with any player. His height also allows him to win aerial duels easily, especially second balls, which helps his team keep the game flow in their favour.
His physicality makes it difficult for any opponent to dislodge him for the ball. In addition, Ndour is so good at shielding the ball that most of the time, the rival player has only the option of fouling to stop him.
In addition, this brilliant mix of defensive and attacking traits also allows Ndour to play any role in a midfield three as well as a second striker. However, looking at his talent, the holding midfielder looks the best for him going forward.
The youngster has also improved his passing immensely this season, making him an even more brilliant asset for the team. Another area where he has improved is making intelligent off-the-ball runs, a trait he lacked till last season.
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What makes him special
Cher Ndour is supremely talented, but so are hundreds of other youth prospects shining across the various youth and senior leagues. However, what makes Cher Ndour particular is his divine ability to adapt. Ever since leaving Atalanta, the teenager had been presented with a new challenge every year and has passed it with flying colours.
The first season was the challenge of making a spot for him in the reserve team. The second season brought the challenge of the UEFA Youth League. And the third season came the challenge of taking his game to the next level and cracking into the first team. And none of these challenges has fazed Ndour, and it will be a skill that will be very useful for him as he ensures to keep getting better and better.
Cher Ndour’s potential and transfer news
In the past few months, the rumour mills have linked Cher Ndour’s name with clubs such as Newcastle, Manchester United, PSG, and Juventus. This shows that clubs already see him as a potential future star and want to sign him quickly to ensure they get him on the cheap.
However, Benfica are perhaps the best club for negotiating a sale and would probably want Ndour to play in the senior team for one season. This will not only allow Benfica to have an incredible player in their ranks to challenge for a league title bid but will also inflate his transfer value bringing in huge gains if a transfer follows.