Joao Felix out to emulate Atletico's Portuguese greats
Atletico Madrid's €126million teenage forward Joao Felix insists he has what it takes to emulate the club's Portuguese greats as he prepares for his first season in LaLiga.
The 19-year-old followed in the footsteps of former Portugal internationals Paulo Futre, Simao and Tiago when he opted to join the club from Benfica, and he has set his sights on surpassing their achievements in the Spanish capital.
In an interview with the club's official website, he also spoke about the importance of head coach Diego Simeone's ability to motivate his players and dismissed suggestions that his relative inexperience would hold him back.
"Simeone is a coach that transfers aggressiveness and motivation into the team, which he also did as a player," said Joao Felix, who scored 20 goals in all competitions last season. "That helps us a lot. He proves his talent and helps us on the pitch.
"Several Portuguese players have played here; big players that were important for Portuguese football. I want to do as well or even better than them.
"I hope to do as well as possible, think positively, work hard in order to complete a great season and be a star at Atletico Madrid.
"Age influences some things but I'm mature enough to face this situation. I know what it means to be at an important club, and everybody says that even though I'm 19 it doesn't look like it."
Joao Felix, who will wear the number seven jersey that formerly belonged to Antoine Griezmann, revealed he has followed Atletico's fortunes in recent years and reflected on the club's LaLiga victory in 2013-14, as well as their Europa League triumph in 2017-18.
He also mentioned Atletico's Champions League final defeats in 2013-14 and 2015-16 as he looked forward to pulling on the shirt of a club he described as one of the world's best.
"I'm very happy," he said. "Everybody wants to play in the world's best teams and Atletico are one of them. Several clubs were interested but I chose Atletico.
"They are the one that I liked the most and the one which had the best conditions for me to go. Atletico are one of the best teams in the world.
"Every player wants to play for the world's top clubs. The opportunity came up and I'm here to give my all. They are a team that I've followed a lot in the Spanish league.
"I even saw them win the league and the Europa League. I also watched the two finals that they didn't win. I've always followed the Spanish league, including Atleti."