For £113 million, whether it be for a 28-year-old or 19-year-old as Joao Felix was at the time of his Atletico Madrid arrival, you expect a certain quality, or, at the very least, signs of that quality.
Those signs, for some time, however, seemed less and less likely to appear for Felix in Madrid. As the games came thick and fast last season, he seemed to struggle more and more; the price tag of £120 million began to look more like daylight robbery than adequate spending for the club’s future. If Felix was to star under Diego Simeone, it didn’t look likely to come anytime soon. But, that’s when football surprises you the most.
When a player looks less likely to succeed than ever, they’ll suddenly go onto produce their best work, whether it be through a tactical change or, in the case of Joao Felix, the arrival of someone to share the spotlight, someone to guide the just-turned 21-year-old past his Atletico Madrid troubles and towards the unlocking of his potential.
Joao Felix: Finally Realising His Potential
Felix is Learning From Veteran Luis Suarez
That someone, of course, was Luis Suarez. The former Barcelona man has arrived in Madrid, continued to score the goals he was always still capable of scoring, taken the likes of Felix to the next level, all whilst Barcelona struggle to find the net in their now blunt frontline.
Since his arrival for as little as £5.5 million, the Urugyuan has netted five goals in nine games, more than Lionel Messi in open play, and has combined with his new teammates to form an unbeaten start in La Liga. Barcelona and Lionel Messi’s loss has been Atletico Madrid and Joao Felix’s gain as proven by the La Liga standings.
Suarez’s arrival has allowed the spotlight to shine away from the still young Felix, onto the often glad to be centre of attention former Barcelona man to give the Portuguese youngster that crucial chance to develop. With Suarez next to him, Felix has been able to share the burden of finding the golden goalscoring touch in a Simeone system which rarely caters towards the constant flow of goalscoring chances.
Whenever presented with the chance in front of goal this season, however, Felix has dispatched expertly to silence his previously bellowing critics in Spain. Just two goals away from equalling his goals tally of last season, too, he’ll only continue to improve next to Suarez and on Europe’s biggest of stages week in week out.
Versatility the Key to Improvement
Last season, Felix, the £120 million man, was thrust into Simeone’s defensive system and asked to instantly become the main source of creativity, replacing the magic touch of the departed Antoine Griezmann. At such a ripe age, being asked to complete such a task was never going to be easy, and it wasn’t, ultimately leading to Felix’s failure.
This season, however, with the aforementioned arrival of Suarez, the 21-year-old has been able to take up the role of creator, sometimes positioned in behind the so often, so clinical Suarez. And, in fairness to Simeone, the positional change, has paid dividends.
In Atletico Madrid’s 4-0 win over Cadiz, when in the slightly deeper, perhaps more creative role, Felix took to the spotlight for all to see. The former Benfica man singlehandedly created four chances, completed 100% of his take-ons, scored two goals before setting one up for a teammate to round off one of his most impressive displays to date in Madrid.
All of a sudden, as he hits the age of 21, Felix looks ready to take La Liga by storm with the experience and guidance of the newly arrived Luis Suarez by his side. With Barcelona up next after the international break, too, the newly formed duo, with a point to prove, will be keener than ever to reach the ever-increasing heights in which they have recently hit.
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