Who: João Félix
From Where: Benfica
To Where: Atlético Madrid
For How Much: €126 million ($142.1M USD)
Grade for Atlético Madrid: A
Grade for Benfica: B+
João Félix to Atlético Madrid Overview
While Tottenham waited 517 days in between signings, this one just felt like it took 517 days to complete. But alas, it’s finally done.
The 19 year-old rising Portuguese star has been labeled “The Next Ronaldo.” However, that doesn’t do much justice to his overall game or moral compass.
As we’ll do for each major signing this summer, below is High Press Soccer’s breakdown of the transaction.
Who is he?
Félix was inarguably the most sought after young talent in Europe this summer.
In 26 domestic games for Primeira Liga champs Benfica last season, Félix tallied 15 goals and 7 assists. He also had that hat trick in the Europa League semis.
While often compared to Cristiano Ronaldo, he’s got a creative flair for facilitating that CR7 never possessed. Félix finds through balls and serves key passes at an elite clip.
And yes, he can score too. Maybe not in the same predatory way Ronaldo does, but who in the history of soccer has?
His 7.5 WhoScored rating was a seasonal best among Primeira Liga forwards. Did we mention he’s just 19?
Is the price fair?
The total cost of €126 million is steep. Regardless, this is becoming a popular refrain here: that’s just the modern market.
If Félix delivers on the majority of his potential for Atleti, this is a bargain. They’re buying him before his prime years even hit. Let’s say Félix gives Atleti a Griezmann-lite 4-5 years of production and gets them consistently in the UCL knockout rounds. Nobody in the Spanish capital will complain about that €126 million.
Building in an absurd €350m buy-out clause indicates they expect him to be around for a few years and the market for marquee talent to escalate. That kind of cash is Mbappe-terrority.
If transfer market values continue to climb and he performs, they’ll be able to sell him and recoup all of that and more–or resign him for what would be his actual prime year. Even if he ends up being just OK but helps keep Atleti competitive in the UCL, the the economics are probably a wash.
This really only becomes a bad investment if Félix bombs. Given the investment and resources that will be put towards his success, the odds of
Félix being a total bust seem low.
What impact should we expect?
Make no mistake, this is a HUGE win for Atlético Madrid.
Félix’s arrival is already prompting discussions around changing Atléti’s style of play. Along with the signing of Marcos Llorente, Atléti are bringing in youth and dynamism that at times seemed lacking in recent campaigns.
Atlético Madrid should–and likely will–build the offense completely around
Félix. He’s a shape-shifter and can give Diego Simeone options on how to best deploy him.
The good news for Simeone is Félix’s best statistical position is center forward. His WhoScored rating as a #9 was 7.68. While La Liga and the
Primeira aren’t apples-to-apples as far as competition, this does out-score Griezmann.
Félix will provide a comparable same set-piece threat as Griezmann, but with better finishing as he doesn’t bomb as many long range shots as the Frenchman. In theory, this should help convert more opportunities for a traditionally offensive-needy team
Atlético Madrid: When you consider how dire their outlook was just a few weeks ago, nabbing Félix is a game changer for the club. It resets their expectations for next season and over the long-haul. The A is well deserved. Sure, they paid full price. They didn’t have to loan him back to Benfica for a year though. And not nabbing a premium talent to replace Griezmann would’ve set the club back both to the fans and the organization at large.
Benfica: The Portuguese champs ideal situation would’ve been the Manchester City bid–get the full price, but get Félix back on a one year loan. They had the leverage. Regardless, this is the kind of sale that could reap long-term rewards for the club if the money is properly re-invested. They were always going to be a top table team domestically, but they can build squad depth to make some noise in Europe now too.