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Coffee with the Caps, Monday January 11

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Vancouver Whitecaps v Los Angeles Galaxy Photo by Michael Janosz/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are well on your way to gearing up for the week ahead.

The rumor mill stops for no man and it has certainly kicked into overdrive in recent days as the Caps have been linked to a new, top dollar target to fill their desired attacking midfield DP slot.

When we talked on Friday I noted how it appeared one of the Caps’ top targets was in a top European league, based on comments Axel Schuster made. In recent days it appears that player is Chiquinho, a 25-year-old Portuguese who plies his trade for Benfica.

Transfermarkt was the first non-Lusophone source with the news and it is pretty exciting, although not everyone is sold on Chiquinho just yet.

His radar from his time at Benfica show a player who is comfortable in a variety of roles and may in fact be equally able to drop into more of a number 8 position rather than the Pedro Morales-mold CAM that many other high-priced creative players fill. This fits in with what Marc dos Santos has said in the past about a Bruno Fernandes-esque talent.

His pass accuracy would instantly be better than virtually all of the Caps’ attackers (Michael Baldisimo is the only player on the team with a higher percentage). But perhaps more importantly he seems to be the kind of player who can provide the incisive passing into the final third that this team didn’t have for large chunks of the last two seasons.

Lacking for match time under Jorge Jesus, Chiquinho had a pretty strong track record before arriving at Benfica. His 18-19 season at Moreirense saw him put up 10 goals and 8 assists in all competitions, meaning he would instantly provide another goal-scoring threat that the Caps would need with the near-certain departure of Fredy Montero. And his ability to drop back and win the ball means he isn’t going to be a defensive liability either.

Benfica want a hefty 10 million Euros for Chiquinho, more or less baking in a 4 million Euro profit after they bought him back from Moreirense in 2019. Money is not exactly growing on trees in Liga NOS at the moment but that still seems pretty steep for a guy who appears pretty far down the pecking order (he came on as a token sub in the 90th minute of their last match to give you a sense of things).

While the Caps have started spending this kind of money (Lucas Cavallini is a data point supporting their interest in this kind of outlay), that’s still a lot of dough and I think a lot of fans are reasonably skeptical of whether the team would pay up.

Still, Transfermarkt note that he would vault into the top 25 most valuable players in the league were he to arrive and, by all accounts, would be the most significant Caps’ player acquisition ... well ... ever.

There is the possibility that other teams in Europe crop up to buy Chiquinho; not being able to get game time at Benfica still would make you a serviceable asset in most European leagues and it is likely that Chiquinho would find that more accommodating for his career ambitions (also would save him a more brutal cultural acclimation).

The one positive if someone gazumps the Caps (or if this is all total BS)? Transfermarkt reports that Chiquinho is indicative of the caliber of player the Caps are eying for the DP creative playmaker the team so desperately needs. This does not seem like it will be destined to be a bargain bin type signing (though you can never rule it out with Vancouver) but rather a significant investment at a crucial juncture in the franchise’s existence.

If you’re still not buying all this, well, I can’t really blame you. I think that this will be like the Cavallini signing — we all will believe it when we see a player holding up the shirt at a press conference. But the fact that legitimate outlets are reporting interest in a player of this caliber is a positive step for a signing that the Caps absolutely need to nail.

Shameless Self Promotion

For more deets on this and other transfer news, Sam Rowan has a roundup here.

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