What can Manchester United expect from Victor Lindelöf?
“I will not say if I want him or not,” José Mourinho said a while back, not quite ending rumours that he was tracking Benfica defender Victor Lindelöf. Now he has his man, UEFA.com explains what the Manchester United manager was keeping so quiet about.
Name: Victor Lindelöf
Club: Manchester United
Born: 17 July 1999
Preferred foot: right
International: 12 appearances, 1 goal
UEFA club competition: 12 appearances, 0 goals
Domestic top division: 61 appearances, 2 goals
They say …
“A player doesn’t take a step up if he doesn’t have the ability, or simply has belief. He took the chance [converting a famous free-kick against Sporting CP] because he works hard, and because we work with him. Before his breakthrough, he didn’t have the opportunity to put it into practice, but he takes set pieces brilliantly.”
Rui Vitória, Benfica coach
“You cannot deny his qualities. He has burst on to the scene and done superbly at club and international level. I’ve been so impressed by him whenever I’ve played with him. He’s an important player for us in the Sweden team now and that shows maturity. But not only does he have the quality on the pitch but he has a calm and sensible head on him as well. He is a humble guy and has a good future ahead of him”
Sebastian Larsson, Sweden player
“[The Swedish media] were surprised at what he has done at Benfica, where he seems like a veteran, with several senior team years under his belt. His first games were like finals, and I was also very impressed with his performances. He is a leader, a calm one, and possesses the qualities to become a captain, at club and national-team level. I have no doubt about that.”
Anders Andersson, former Benfica and Sweden player
“It was a beautiful surprise the way he settled into the team so quickly. He is physically robust, strong in the air when marking his man, as well as being very calm and focused. He was prepared for his opportunity and made the most of it.”
Toni, former Benfica player and coach
Having started out with hometown club Västerås, helping them win promotion to Sweden’s second tier, Lindelöf joined Benfica in December 2011, aged 17. He won the 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship with Sweden, but senior Eagles appearances were rare – and a move to Middlesbrough was mooted – before injuries thrust him into the first team in early 2016. He shone, stepping up to become a senior international, and winning the first of two Portuguese titles that season.
Playing style …
Regarded as a ball-playing centre-back, he is a big man but skilful, and while he can put in crunching tackles, his timing is exceptional – in 46 appearances for Benfica last season, he was booked just once. Pacy, he has been tried out as a right-back at international level, but his natural position is in the middle. He has been nicknamed ‘Iceman’, Lindelöf (pronounced ‘linda-love’) explaining: “It was one of the coaches and a few team-mates who gave me the nickname. I think it’s because I’m pretty calm and steady.”
Shades of …
Think Real Madrid’s Rafael Varane; rarely concedes fouls or picks up cards, and reads the game brilliantly. His blond hair and new-found set-piece skills also drew comparisons to Ronald Koeman.
“I’ve been playing, and playing well, I think. This was my fourth season at the club and progressed a lot as a player and person. I feel that every day I take another step forward thanks to the good professionals around me.”
“I would never have been the footballer I am today if I hadn’t had the training I’ve received over the [last few] years. I have a lot to thank Benfica for.”
“[Dispelling rumours of his impending move to United while on duty with Sweden] I know a lot of things get written about me, but I don’t think it’s right for me to read them. It wouldn’t suit me to read rumours. My thoughts are with the national team. After that I’m going on holiday, so we’ll see. But I have a contract [at Benfica], and that’s where my thoughts lie. That’s my answer.”