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Daily Record
Daily Record
Sport
Scott Burns

Duk and his Jota plus Joao Felix graduation as Benfica insider pays Aberdeen fan favourite a glowing compliment

It is no surprise Duk is making a big impression at Aberdeen because he didn’t look out of place alongside World Cup star Joao Felix and Celtic’s Jota.

So says former coach Joao Tralhao who purred at the sight of the talented trio as they fired Benfica’s under-19s to title glory. Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes may have been relatively unknown when the Dons decided to pay around £300,000 to land the Cape Verde international in the summer.

Now with his all-action displays and acrobatic goals he has already made himself a big favourite with the Aberdeen faithful and helped ensure they went into the winter break in third place in the Premiership. Tralhao is not surprised because he watched Duk make an impact alongside some of the best players in his age group in Portugal, alongside in Celtic favourite Jota and Atletico Madrid’s and Portugal’s rising star Joao Felix. The Portuguese coach explained: “Duk is one year younger than Jota but they both played in the same under-19 team that won the national title.

“We had Jota and Joao Felix and Duk and they played together. Duk was a very important player for us and scored a lot of goals for our Benfica team that season.

“All the greatest players like Joao Felix and Jota both loved playing with Duk because he is a good teammate and a team player. He works so hard for the team and although he scores goals himself, he also creates space and chances for others. He is so unselfish but is effective at the same time.”

It took the 22-year-old a bit of time to get match fit because he was playing catch-up in terms of fitness when he arrived in Scotland. Now he is up to speed and has netted eight goals in his 19 appearances for Aberdeen.

Tralhao reckons Duk’s eye for goal is his greatest strength and will be a big asset for Aberdeen.

The former Monaco assistant coach recalled: “He came from Belenenses and I remember when he first arrived he scored so many goals for the under-17 team at Benfica. He showed his qualities.

“He is powerful, aggressive, strong and he works hard to press. He also has an amazing instinct to score goals and you could see that with every year he progressed. He has a real instinct for goal that is his top quality. He just scores goals, with his right foot, left foot, chest, head or every part of his body. He has scored a few acrobatic goals for Aberdeen and trust me that is not usual. That is just Duk.”

Duk might have all the flair of a typical Portuguese attacker but Tralhao knew he also had the physicality and work rate to shine in Scotland.

“I remember when he was 17 he could compete in physical duels with everybody," his former coach admitted. “I am talking about boys who were maybe 19 or even in the first-team, experienced men. He is just so strong and powerful and he fights for everything.

“I know a lot of it might be down to his genetics but the other side of things is that Duk is an extremely hard worker.

“He works like fury on his technical skills but also in the gym to make himself stronger, fitter and better. Duk always wants to improve and that is what you want from a young player.”

Duk moved through the ranks and was playing in Portugal’s second tier with Benfica B but both parties felt it was best if he could go and get top-level football at this stage in his career.

Tralhao thinks he has picked well and he and Aberdeen will be the perfect match. He claimed: “It was probably the right time for Duk and Benfica to part ways. It is very difficult to break into the Benfica first team with the quality they have and at this time Duk needs first-team football.

“He has gone to Aberdeen and he has chosen well. Aberdeen are a good club with a good European pedigree. “They also do well in Scotland and Duk can be an important player for them on both fronts.”

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