João Félix is champion of Spain after Atletico Madrid won La Liga this weekend. It has been a mixed season for the Portuguese in the Spanish capital, but a first major honour with Los Rojiblancos represents the highlight so far since his headline-grabbing move from Benfica two years ago.
Atleti coach Diego Simeone has been speaking to ESPN Argentina about the team’s triumph, and had some interesting comments when asked about Félix, who scored ten goals in all competitions this season.
“You cannot imagine how João plays, I can’t explain it,” he told the Argentine journalist who raised the subject. “I spoke to him yesterday. We talk a lot. He told me ‘mister, we always talk about the same things over and over’. He is maturing and he has an amazing amount of talent. I have told him plenty of times that as a coach I want to get the best out of him consistently.
“As a coach I get sad when I can’t get the most out of him, which we were never able to do up until December and January when he was playing well, making effort, tracking back and being a team player. I ask that of him because I know he can do it. He’s really smart, he knows what’s happening around him.
“What he must do is what he did in the Chelsea game in London. That’s what I want: work hard, play whether we are winning or losing, not leaving the game; not playing only when we attack and have the ball. I told him that after that game. We have to get the best out of him because he is very important to us.”
Félix was introduced during the second half on Saturday as Atleti came from behind to win 2-1 at Real Valladolid and confirm themselves as champions. Since joining in a €126m deal from Benfica, the forward, who is still just 21, has played 75 games for Atletico, scoring 19 goals.
By Sean Gillen