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Last Updated: Monday, 19 July, 2004, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Chelsea put faith in Tiago
By Andrew McKenzie

Chelsea's new addition Tiago
He is a complete player - good in both defensive and offensive situations
Portugal coach Felipe Scholari
Having failed to land some of Europe's top midfielders this summer, Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho has turned to Tiago of Benfica.

But who is Tiago and why was Mourinho so keen to bring the 23-year-old, who signed for the Blues on Wednesday, to Stamford Bridge?

Tiago may be virtually an unknown in England but his reputation around Europe has been on the rise since moving to Benfica in December 2001 from Sporting Braga.

Valencia presidential candidate Paco Roig used Tiago as part of his campaign - vowing to bring the midfielder to the club if he was elected.

Both Barcelona and Juventus declared their interest in the player, while he has been linked with a switch to most of Europe's top sides.

Portuguese journalist Alberto da Silva of A Bola newspaper has followed Tiago's career and believes Chelsea have landed a rising star.

He told BBC Sport: "Mourinho knows he is a good player but more than that he knows he has a player for the future.

"I don't believe that Mourinho needs Tiago tomorrow - he has got plenty midfielders already. But what he has is a very good card for the future.

"Maybe Mourinho wants to keep him and have a look in two or three years' time.

TIAGO PROFILE
Born: 02/05/1981
Clubs: Sporting Braga, Benfica
International debut: November 2002 versus Scotland
International caps: 9
International goals: 0
"But you never know what happens if three or four players get injured or suspended this season.

"Tiago is a fine offensive midfielder. He is a tall player of great ability, he is very good with his head and provides good support to the strikers.

"He is the kind of player you can trust. He always seems to play at a certain level, his performances never dip too low."

Mourinho himself has hinted that it is the potential of Tiago that interests him.

He said it would take a year to turn him into a top player - in much the way he did with ex-Benfica midfielder Maniche at Porto.

"I would get him to work some routines for a few consecutive months, to think quicker about football, to have a greater tactical vision, to have a higher intensity of play," Mourinho has said of Tiago.

Benfica were desperate not to lose their prize asset, who was under contract until 2007.

He scored 13 goals from midfield in his first full season with the club and was a central figure as Benfica pipped Porto to the Portuguese cup last season.

Unhappy player

But relations between Tiago and Benfica became strained when his former agent Jose Veiga was made a director of the club.

Tiago vowed not to play for the Lisbon side while Veiga was involved due to a previous fall-out.

When the club realised his threat was serious they decided they had little option but to give in to Chelsea's advances, rather than keep an unhappy player.

Despite being part of Portugal's squad for Euro 2004, Tiago failed to make the pitch during their run to the final.

But Portugal coach Felipe Scholari is a fully paid-up member of the Tiago fan club, and he even advised Juventus to follow up their interest in the gifted midfielder.

"He is a complete player - good in both defensive and offensive situations," Scholari said after Euro 2004.

"Juventus shouldn't allow themselves to miss out on this opportunity to sign him for the new campaign.

"He can easily be fielded in Edgar Davids' position although he could also do a good job as cover for Pavel Nedved."

Juventus's loss looks like being Chelsea's gain.






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