Atletico Madrid were the biggest spenders in La Liga this summer, and the nature of the champions’ signings has cast doubt over the prospects of record signing João Félix as he nears a return to action.
Atletico have conducted a net spend exceeding €65m, with the deadline day deal for Antoine Griezmann the headline-grabbing transfer in the capital. Atletico also signed Argentine midfielder Rodrigo de Paul (Udinese) and Brazilian forward Matheus Cunha (Hertha Berlin) for significant fees.
According to local paper AS, coach Diego Simeone will lean towards a 4-4-2 system, meaning there are four attacking positions which could potentially be filled by Félix. However, Luis Suarez, Griezmann, Cunha and Angel Correa are favoured for the main forward positions, while Marcos Llorente is Simeone’s preference on the right following an excellent season last term.
Whichever system Simeone uses (Atletico have played with three CBs at the start of the season) the publication says Félix’s best chance of game time could come in a left-sided role, but the impressive early-season form of Thomas Lemar will ensure there is strong competition, particularly as the Frenchman is a natural left-winger.
AS describes the situation as “complicated for Félix” who is nearing a return from injury as he begins his third season with Los Rojiblancos. In May, Simeone told Argentine media that he “gets sad when I cannot get the best out of him” but insisted he was determined to help the former Benfica man reach a consistent level.
Félix is back in training with Atletico following a summer operation on his ankle. The 21-year-old is believed to have carried the injury for over six months, but following Portugal’s elimination at the European Championships it was deemed essential for Félix to undergo an operation which has seen him miss Atleti’s opening three league matches.
By Sean Gillen