João Félix: the inside line on Atlético's big signing

João Félix has made a high-profile move from Benfica to Atlético; find out why it is such a big deal.

João Félix celebrates during his hat-trick against Frankfurt
João Félix celebrates during his hat-trick against Frankfurt ©Getty Images

Likened to Rui Costa and Kaká, teenager João Félix has become Atlético Madrid's most dramatic signing of the summer, the 19-year-old leaving Lisbon for a reported fee of €123m. How good is he?

Name: João Félix
Age: 19
Club: Atlético Madrid
Position: forward
Country: Portugal
2018/19*: 49 games, 22 goals

Who is he?

A prodigiously talented attacking midfielder who sparkled as Benfica won the Portuguese Liga and reached the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals in 2018/19, João Félix has become Atlético's first marquee signing ahead of the new campaign.

What makes him so good?

João Félix breaks down in tears after completing his hat-trick
João Félix breaks down in tears after completing his hat-trick©Getty Images

There's the stylish touch, the languid movement, the positional versatility, the impish skill and the preternatural awareness, but most exciting about the teenager is his goalscoring. Even while his best position remains tantalisingly undecided – he has featured as both attacking midfielder and second striker – João Félix hit double figures domestically and scored a stunning UEFA Europa League hat-trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in April.

Why is he the centre of attention?

Watch João Félix's stunning treble
Watch João Félix's stunning treble

João Félix shot to prominence by hitting a late equaliser against Benfica's city rivals Sporting on just his third senior appearance, but his spring treble against Eintracht had Europe purring. At just 19 years and 152 days old, the forward broke Eusébio's record to become the youngest Portuguese scorer of a European hat-trick – and the youngest ever to bag a UEFA Europa League treble.

Where has he come from?

Watch João Félix's brilliant backheel against Real Madrid
Watch João Félix's brilliant backheel against Real Madrid

The prodigy spent the early part of his youth career with Porto, only transferring to the record Portuguese champions' Seixal academy midway through his teens. Porto's loss was Benfica's gain, João Félix excelling for the Eagles in the UEFA Youth League – underlining his potential with a brilliant semi-final back-heel goal against Real Madrid in 2017 – before joining the senior squad for 2018/19.

When did he make his debut?

João Félix takes the acclaim
João Félix takes the acclaim©Getty Images

After impressing in a succession of substitute displays in August 2018, the attacker earned a first senior start against Aves the following month, promptly finding the net after 34 minutes. He figured in Benfica's UEFA Champions League campaign prior to their group stage exit, with his first continental goals arriving via that April hat-trick against Frankfurt.

How far could he go?

Young Portuguese goalscorers understandably elicit comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo – whom João Félix has said it would be a "dream" to play alongside – but the youngster's elegance better evokes Rui Costa or even Kaká. He made his senior Portugal debut in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals, and at this rate will be a national-team regular for years.

What they say ...

"He's a fantastic kid."
Bruno Lage, Benfica coach

"Portuguese football can be proud to have such a rare talent once again. To be so calm at just 19; he is unbelievably intelligent within the game, moves well and is quick."
Adolf Hütter, Eintracht Frankfurt coach

"He is a player who can show his potential not just to Benfica fans but to fans across Europe. He has enormous quality and a calmness with the ball at his feet."
Jonas, Benfica forward

João Félix in celebratory mood
João Félix in celebratory mood©AFP/Getty Images

"He's practically a complete player for his age. From an emotional and mental point of view, he's very strong, at the elite level."
João Tralhão, former Benfica youth coach

"They've already called him my heir or the new Kaká. To be honest, Félix is just Félix. He has an extraordinary understanding of the game and that rare ability to know where to be in front of goal. João is another gem from our academy. He's the kid of the moment, and deservedly so."
Rui Costa, Benfica and Portugal great

What he says ...

"I'm a clever player. I like to have the ball and score goals."

"My parents have this saying about me: 'When João was a baby, he could dribble a football before he could walk.'"

Mbappé shows off his signature celebration
Mbappé shows off his signature celebration©AFP/Getty Images

"I like Kylian Mbappé as a player and I like his celebration. At the moment, Mbappé is the striker I like the most."

"Cristiano Ronaldo is an incredibly hard worker and an example for everyone. He's been one of the best in the world for years and will continue to be."

"As I grew as a man, and as a player, I realised that's what I loved – to have the ball, and to play wonderful, happy football. That's when I'm at my best, that's when I am me."

*appearance data includes games for Benfica, Portugal and Portugal Under-21s

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