He was loaned to Italian sides Modena and AC Carpenedolo to gain experience, and returned to Portugal in 2005/06 for another temporary spell with CF Estrela da Amadora, where he played in 31 league matches and scored seven times, contributing to the preservation of their Liga status.
In June 2006, Manu was given a new four-year deal and made his debut by playing in both legs of the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round win against Austria Vienna. He also made a substitute appearance for Benfica in a Champions League game against FC Copenhagen on 13 September 2006.
Thanks to his time in Italy, Manú attracted interest from the likes of Udinese Calcio and Parma FC. Finally, Greek giants AEK managed to sign him on a one-year loan.