It’s official. Atletico Madrid have matched the €126 million release clause of Benfica teenager Joao Felix. It’s an extravagant move from Atletico whichever way you look at it. Benfica are expected to accept the bid, which would make Felix the third costliest player in history. The youngster has played just one full season in the top flight which propelled Atletico to secure the bid. Is it a gamble worth taking?
Felix has made just 43 appearances for the Benfica first team in his career. All of those came last season. He recorded 15 goals and seven assists in 21 league appearances. There is no question about the talent he possesses. He is one of the best young players in the world. But has he shown enough to command such a hefty price tag?
Diego Simeone certainly thinks so. He needs to make some big signings fast, especially in the forward department. Antoine Griezmann is set to leave this summer, most probably to Barcelona. The other forward options are Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa. While Morata has revived his career in Madrid, Costa looks to be well beyond his prime. Other options like Angel Correa and Nikola Kalinic have not impressed particularly. Griezmann was a highly valuable player for Simeone, and replacing him is crucial.
Atletico Madrid have always replaced their star players in fashion, at least in the last decade or so. Strikers like Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan, and Radamel Falcao have left for greener pastures in recent years. But Atletico replaced them with astute transfers like Costa and Griezmann. Midfielder Rodri is likely to move to Manchester City, but they recently signed an able replacement in the form of Marcos Llorente.
Simeone has always been careful with his spending at the club. Thomas Lemar is the record signing for him, and the former Monaco winger cost €74 million. Shelling out €50 million more than that for a 19-year-old is a bit odd. It seems like the need has outweighed the product in Atletico’s situation. They desperately need a dynamic attacking player to succeed Griezmann, and they are all in.
Now Felix can repay the enormous fee. He is a versatile player capable of playing anywhere in the final third. He has a knack of getting into scoring positions and getting on the end of crosses. Out of his 15 league goals, 11 came from the penalty area. He will most likely play a bit wider at Atletico given that they have Morata and Costa as strikers. Felix had seven assists in the league last season which speaks about his creative inputs.
Atletico Madrid have taken a massive gamble with the €126 million bid for Joao Felix. There is no guarantee that he is worth it, but their predicament made them go for it anyway. The pressure and hype around Felix if he moves would be huge and it would be intriguing to see how he fares in Madrid.