João Félix is a wanted man. That much we know.
A terrific debut season at Benfica resulted in the 19-year-old’s inclusion in Portugal’s Nations League squad, and Europe’s elite are on notice. João Félix has had no shortage of suitors in the early days of the summer transfer window, as Juventus, Real Madrid and both Manchester clubs have been linked with him so far. But what we don’t know is who — if anyone — will take the next step and try to secure the wunderkind’s signature for next season.
Well, reports indicate that Atlético Madrid are going to try their damndest.
AS on Wednesday reported that Atlético are willing to match Manchester City’s purported contract offer to João Félix of €6 million per year — money that has been freed up by the imminent departures of Juanfran, Diego Godín and Antoine Griezmann. According to a Portuguese report cited by the Madrid daily, Atleti’s first proposal to Benfica is €60 million plus an additional €20m in variables and an option to receive Ángel Correa in exchange.
Atlético’s numbers-crunchers are said to be looking at various scenarios which could facilitate the player’s arrival. The Griezmann and Lucas Hernández transfers will bring the club quite a bit of money, as would a potential Diego Costa sale. But is possible that the Rojiblancos will have to bring forth to this summer Álvaro Morata’s purchase from Chelsea, and that operation could see the club part with €55 million in order to turn the Spain international’s loan into a permanent deal.
However, Atlético’s well-documented relationship with Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes has them optimistic about a possible deal for João Félix. Another AS story on Monday — later corroborated by Mundo Deportivo — indicated that Mendes has worked to convince the teenager of Atleti’s ambitions and that he is excited about potentially being a centerpiece in Diego Simeone’s rebooted side.
Now, time for the caveats. Putting aside the fact that João Félix has only one season of top-flight experience under his belt, a move for him would represent a significant economic risk for a club that swims in tricky financial waters anyway. Atlético do need to identify a Griezmann replacement, but there are holes elsewhere in the squad that must be filled — particularly in defense, as the current crop besides José Giménez does not convince.
In addition, Benfica so far have not budged on the player’s €120 million release clause — and if that does not change, Spanish radio claims, Atleti would have to bring in outside help. This would be a cash injection from an investment firm, or more likely a “gift” from a shareholders — such as Israeli businessman Idan Ofer.
Expect this story to take several turns yet, but the possibility of acquiring such a bright young talent like this one carries a lot of excitement — even though there could be certain drawbacks.