One of the longest-serving members of Benfica's squad (having arrived in 2007 from Defensor Sporting of Uruguay), Victorio Maximiliano Pereira Paez - Maxi to his friends - has also arguably been the Eagles' most consistent performer during that time, adapting to a succession of different coaches, and proving vital to all of them. Initially a winger under Jose Antonio Camacho, Maxi's first season at the Luz was largely one of adaptation, though he did produce an unforgettable goal against AC Milan in the Champions League.
Following the departure of Nelson, Maxi was moved into the right-back position by Quique Sanchez Flores, and although the Spaniard is not remembered with great fondness in Lisbon, his decision to convert the Uruguayan into a rampaging full-back is at least one positive legacy of his time at the Luz. Maxi's finest campaign in Benfica colours was undoubtedly 2009/10, where the Eagles delivered some thrilling attacking football as they sped to a Liga and Taca da Liga double.
With the more defensive-minded presence of Ramires ahead of him, Maxi was able to contribute to Benfica's offensive moves with abandon, regularly appearing on the overlap to deliver crosses for the likes of Saviola and Cardozo. He also played a key role in Benfica's run to the Europa League quarter-finals, producing a pair of vital goals against Marseilles.
Whilst last season was something of a disaster for Benfica, Maxi was (along with his colleague at left-back, Fabio Coentrao) one of few players to emerge with his reputation enhanced. Barely showing any fatigue from an impressive World Cup, he hit the ground running, with his commitment and will to win a real boost to his oft-beleaguered coach, Jorge Jesus. Although not often picked out as a star name, Maxi is, to my mind, the beating heart of this Benfica side.
Name: Maxi Pereira
Club team: Benfica (Portugal, Primeira Liga)
Chances Copa America increases transfer interest: Possible. Maxi has a contract with Benfica until 2015 but also has a blabbermouth agent, who has been a constant in thorn in Benfica's side.
Role in the team: Attacking full-back