Talent always comes to the fore. Wonderboy João Félix (22) will soon be Atlético’s great hope against Manchester City. However, the Portuguese top talent languished in a forgotten corner not so long ago. Does the mismatch still turn into a dream wedding after a lot of patience?
Even so, he was on the other side tonight.
Three times in the past, Manchester City have unsuccessfully attempted to lure João Félix to the Premier League. Not surprisingly.
Already at his professional debut for Benfica it was clear that the boy had something special. Golden feet, an unsurpassed vista and the gift to be decisive at crucial moments. In Portugal he quickly got the stamp of “New Ronaldo”, but the resemblance to a little Argentinian was more numerous. So it makes sense that Pep Guardiola had him high on the list at City. FC Barcelona and PSG were of course also on the fence.
However, the surprise was great when Félix finally chose Atlético Madrid.
Angel in squad full of devils
It seemed like a complete mismatch, an expensive gamble of more than 127 million euros.
The delicate angel Félix suddenly found himself in a squad full of devils. Led by trainer Diego Simeone, who prefers fighter football to tiki-taka.
At times, the Portuguese showed his talent in Madrid, but – as feared – much less consistently than at Benfica. After a first season that did not live up to expectations, Félix increasingly ended up on the bench. An ankle injury didn’t help either.
The role of the top talent in the national title was therefore limited last year. Despite seven goals, almost all credit went to boys like Luis Suarez, Jan Oblak and Yannick Carrasco. And he was also an extra at the European Championships with only a half-hour stand-in against the Red Devils.
Félix fell into a corner of forgetting.
In a corner of forgetting
The million-dollar question: who would throw the Portuguese a lifeline? Because staying with Atlético seemed like career murder.
Félix did it anyway – partly out of necessity due to an operation on the ankle during the summer break. In an interview, the attacker admitted that he had played with a broken leg in his foot for six months.
Self-harm to still succeed at Atlético.
Also at the beginning of this season, Félix had to bite his teeth. With only four starting places and one goal in La Liga for New Years at an errant Atlético. Even the most loyal of fans lost faith in the wonderboy.
But then a tipping point came at the end of February. In the Champions League match against United, Félix opened the score with a wonderful diving header. A confirmation of his great performance against Osusana a few days earlier.
Félix was reborn, resulting in one smashing performance after another. Are stats the last ten matches? Seven goals and three assists.
Suddenly the Portuguese is the first name on Simeone’s match sheet. In La Liga, observers put him without hesitation alongside Pedri, Benzema and Courtois when it comes to players in top form.
The rebirth of the wonderboy.
City has been warned.