Benfica convinced World Cup stars will stay as Schmidt sides with Argentina for the final

By Sports Desk December 16, 2022 523

Benfica boss Roger Schmidt has no fears about losing World Cup stars Enzo Fernandez and Goncalo Ramos.

Head coach Schmidt said the youngsters, both 21, and veteran defender Nicolas Otamendi, are integral to his plans to deliver success in Lisbon.

Fernandez and Otamendi are part of the Argentina squad preparing for Sunday's World Cup final against France, when both could be starters.

That has put them in the spotlight, and midfielder Fernandez has been linked with a host of teams, including Liverpool.

Benfica sold striker Darwin Nunez to the Reds in the last transfer window, and Schmidt is determined to retain the best of the talent that has remained at the club.

"We are very happy for them and they are happy to play at Benfica. We need players like them," Schmidt told a press conference on Friday, according to O Jogo.

"We are not afraid that they will leave. We will not give anyone away; we need them to be champions."

Benfica sit top of the Primeira Liga after accruing 12 wins from their opening 13 games in what is Schmidt's first season in charge.

Looking at his Argentine pair, Schmidt said he was "happy for them" to be playing a World Cup final, while domestic games resume in Portugal.

Benfica have a Taca da Liga round-robin game against Moreirense on Saturday, which could see Portugal striker Ramos involved.

He made his name known to a wide audience by scoring a hat-trick against Switzerland in Portugal's 6-1 victory at the last-16 stage at the World Cup, having come into the team in place of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Looking at the finals in Qatar, Schmidt said: "Otamendi has played at a fantastic level. I think Goncalo and Enzo have been playing very well throughout the season.

"Enzo took advantage of opportunities with Argentina, he didn't begin in the starting line-up. Goncalo Ramos too, with Portugal, scored three goals. It shows that they have a lot of confidence."

German coach Schmidt also acknowledged he will be siding with Argentina in the final, out of duty to his players.

"I have all the respect for France, but there are two of our players in Argentina, of course I'll support them," he said. "To be honest, I'm also a [Lionel] Messi fan, he continues to be the best in the world for me and he's shown it."

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Last modified on Friday, 16 December 2022 09:42
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