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Getting to Know: Barcelona Right-Back Nelson Semedo

A look into Semedo’s career

FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad - La Liga Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Full name: Nélson Cabral Semedo
Squad No: 2
Position: Right-Back
Date of birth: 16 November 1993
Place of birth: Lisbon, Portugal
Height: 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight: 67 kg (148 lbs)

Club career

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Nelson Semedo started playing organized football roughly 30 minutes north-west of his hometown, in Sintra, with Sport União Sintrense. Impressive through his youth journey, Semedo made his professional debut in 2011, aged 17, in the Terceira Divisão. Not only did the youngster shine in his early season appearances, he showed enough to stick with the team, making 26 appearances and scoring an impressive five goals.

That was enough for Portuguese powerhouse Benfica to come calling, and Semedo joined the club on a free transfer. He was quickly loaned out to Fátima, in the Segunda Divisão. The right back missed just a single game, suiting up 29 times in the third level of Portuguese football. Even though his scoring touch didn’t translate to the higher league, the youngster did enough to earn a spot with Benfica B for the 2013-14 season. He made his debut in the Segunda Liga on 10 August 2013. After an up-and-down first season, Semedo took a big step in the right direction in his development the next year, putting himself on the radar of the first team.

Semedo started the 2015-16 season as the first choice right back for the Benfica senior side. But after an impressive start to the campaign, Semedo suffered a knee injury that required surgery, leaving him sidelined for three months. The injury put a big dent in the right-back’s development, and he wasn’t the same player after completing the recovery. His playing time with the team dropped, as did his form, leading to a demotion to the B team to end the season. After finish the year with the reserve side, Semedo closed his account with Benfica B at 63 appearances, five goals and nine assists.

Starting the 2016-17 campaign fresh, Semedo reasserted himself as the first-choice right back, and the results were impressive. Playing exclusively at right-back, he put together a very strong season and put himself on the map of bigger clubs, playing over 4200 minutes, missing just a handful of games the entire season. Semedo really put it all together, and as a result Barcelona came calling and a transfer of €35.7 million (+ incentives) was agreed - after 65 games played, three goals and twelve assists for Benfica.

Semedo arrived in Barcelona to fill large shoes that had been left unfilled since Dani Alves’ departure. Whether it was the pressure, mismanagement from the manager, or some misfortune with untimely injuries, but the right-back’s career in Catalonia never really kicked off. There had been glimpses of a bright future since his Blaugrana debut on 16 August 2017 against Real Madrid, but the consistency has been lacking. 111 times has Semedo donned the Blaugrana colors, scoring a goal and adding ten assists, but his time in Catalonia might be running out if he can’t impress ‎Quique Setién.

International career

About a month before his 22nd birthday, Semedo was called up by the national side to start in a Euro Qualifier against Serbia on 11 October 2015. It was supposed to mark the start of a bright international career, but over two of the next four seasons, Semedo didn’t make a single appearance for Portugal. Still, including his winning debut performance in 2015, Semedo made 13 appearances for the senior side, but hasn’t been officially credited with an assist or a goal.


Semedo is a speedy right back with some versatility as he is capable of playing on the left side, though he is much more comfortable on the right, which plays to his stronger foot. Semedo is very comfortable in attack and is capable of swinging a good ball into the danger area, but accuracy and decision making have been known to be an issue, though he can provide good play-making with his strong short passing game. Defensively he is positionally sound, but can get caught out on the counter attack. Defending one-on-ones is also not his strong point.



· Primeria Liga (2): 2015-16, 2016-17

· Taça de Portugal (1): 2016-17

· Taça da Liga (1): 2015-16

· Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira (1): 2016


· La Liga (2): 2017-18, 2018-19

· Copa del Rey (1): 2017-18

· Supercopa de España (1): 2018


· UEFA Nations League (1): 2018-19


· LPFP Primeira Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year (1): 2016-17

· UEFA Champions League Breakthrough XI (1): 2017

Contract Status

The Portugal international has a contract agreement with Barcelona until 30 June 2022, with a buyout clause of €100 million written in.

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