You don’t become the fourth most expensive player in history without being quite good at football. And Joao Felix, who at 19 years of age moved to Atletico Madrid for around £113m (the fourth highest fee in history), is pretty damn decent at football.
A spectacular breakthrough season with Benfica in 2018/19 earned him the astronomical move to the Spanish capital where, despite a tricky settling-in process, he has performed well and has even won La Liga.
Although his time at Atleti hasn’t all been plain sailing, Felix has remained a feature in the Portugal national team setup and will most certainly be one to watch in this summer’s delayed Euro 2020 tournament.
So, in preparation for what could be a huge month for Felix and his country, we at 90min thought we should take you through what you need to know about him.
A breathtaking start to the season was somewhat hindered midway through when Felix suffered a knock, then a COVID-19 enforced break and, most recently, an ankle injury. Since December, the 21-year-old has completed 90 minutes on just one occasion. However, despite the lack of game time, he impressed when he did play.
Six goals and one assist in his debut campaign for Los Colchoneros has been followed by seven goals and six assists this time around. This is made all the more impressive when considering over half of his league appearances this season have been from off the bench – meaning he registers a goal contribution every 118 minutes in La Liga. Not too shabby at all, Joao.
His remarkable attacking versatility has seen him utilised in a variety of different roles throughout his career so far.
Portugal manager Fernando Santos has previously used Felix out wide on the left or as an out-and-out striker, while Simeone predominantly played him out right during the youngster’s first season at Atleti. However, both have deployed the 21-year-old behind the main striker in recent times, which is arguably his most effective position.
Felix thrives when charged with linking midfield and attack, using his impressive vision, dribbling and passing ability to move his team upfield. The forward also possesses a keen eye for goal, either making late runs or using his positional awareness to bag respectable numbers – for example, Felix scored 15 goals in 26 Liga NOS games playing as a number 10 for Benfica in the 2018/19 season.
Felix has previously been likened to Brazilian legend Kaka. Although they share a similar creative streak, that comparison may have become a thing because, like Kaka, Felix is tall and has dark, floppy hair.
Of course, being a Portuguese wonderkid, the 21-year old has also been compared to Cristiano Ronaldo but it is probably his comparisons to Antoine Griezmann – whom he replaced at Atletico Madrid – that is most suitable.
Felix possesses a subtle, yet elegant and impactful, creative touch which produces moments of class to drive his side on. He certainly has a penchant for a goal like Griezmann, but will unlikely register the same ridiculous goal tallies that Ronaldo has throughout his career.
“Joao, as we have always mentioned, is a really important player. “
– Diego Simeone
“[Felix] has a great future and if he continues like this, I have no doubt that he can be a great player or a Ballon d’Or winner.”
– Stefan Savic
“They’ve already called him my heir. Or again Kaka. The truth is, Felix is just Felix. He has an extraordinary sense of play and a rare ability to guess what will happen in front of goal. He is a modern number 10, a second striker with a remarkable sense of goal.”
– Rui Costa
On FIFA Career Mode you’ll find Felix at a very decent 83 base overall rating and, as you can imagine, that rating grows. A lot.
With the right training programme and game time, the Portuguese can reach an overall rating of 93, making him one of the best in the game. His market value may be a whopping £72.5m and he may come with a starting salary of £55k but, if you’re at the right club, he’s worth every penny.
You’ll be shocked to hear that Felix has the ‘wonderkid’ tag in Football Manager and, being versatile and two footed, would be a huge asset to any team.
Here are his starting stats in FM:
And here they are nine years into a save:
Felix is one of the many to have been wearing the beautiful Adidas Copa Sense+ throughout the 2020/21 season, so he will likely be donning a Euro 2020 variant of that boot.
Despite his struggle for a starring role at domestic level, Felix hasn’t missed a Portugal match for a year and a half, starting seven out of the last 11. On the back of another good season (despite some difficulties), the 21-year-old will be a key man for Santos, who will rely on him for a spark in the final third.
Portugal are in the ‘Group of Death’ along with Germany and France but, whether the versatile Felix plays on the left, through the middle or as a number ten, he’ll be involved and he’ll be a threat to his opponents.