After making his debut with Benfica, it was obvious that Joao Felix was a player of the future. The cerebral forward has proven his game has everything needed to succeed at the highest level; a player of incredible tactical and technical attributes for one so young.
However, much like Renato Sanches, the youngster moved on from Lisbon after just one full season. Though it was clear that his talent was perhaps already outgrowing Portugal, a move to Atletico Madrid was seen as a huge cultural change.
For one, despite all of the work done by Diego Simeone, Atletico are not a superclub. They are not a team that can point to their proven success on a seasonal basis. He was also joining a club that played a more aggressive, less possessive style of the game than his previous club.
As such, a period of adaption was needed despite costing a fee as large as €140m in time. Felix, though, endured a tough first season in Spain – last year, though, the player shone enough as Atletico won the league title.
However, for one who was seen as a de facto heir to the throne of Cristiano Ronaldo, it would be fair to say that Felix has slipped down the pecking order. The likes of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland have become the talking points for the attacking future of the game. Felix has gone from a protagonist to an afterthought in the eyes of many.
That said, the player himself is keen to ensure that his confidence never dips. Still playing at a high level with his club and now with his country, there is no reason why Felix cannot make good on his generational potential once he fully finds his feet in the 2021-22 season.
What did Joao Felix say about his career progress?
When asked by Diario AS in his home nation about his future potential, and if he could match-up to the likes of Mbappe and Haaland, Felix said: “I can be. I’ve not yet reached my best level. In the last few seasons I’ve had several injuries and I’ve not enjoyed an injury-free season. But when that happens I think I can fight to be in that position.”
And it is true – the player is yet to really put together a season without losing at least a few weeks or months to injury. Given the physical demands that Simeone puts on his players, though, it is likely that the adaption period will take longer than it would at a more typical club. The unique play style and nature of Atletico as a club makes it hard for any player to go there and thrive from day one without adapting to the madness of Simeone’s system.
Though he might not be seen as the #1 option to be the next global star in a post-Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi world, Felix is confident he can at least be on the podium for years to come.
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