Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone declared he is “open to everything” when it comes to the future of Joao Felix, but urged the Portuguese talent to show he deserves to be a regular starter.
Simeone spoke out in response to a question of whether he would understand if Joao Felix asked to leave Atletico in the January transfer window.
The 22-year-old forward came off the bench to play the second half of the 2-0 derby defeat to Real Madrid last weekend, having two shots on target and creating one chance in a lively display
That display caught the eye of Simeone, who said that version of Joao Felix was “the footballer we need”. In 13 games this season, including six starts, Joao Felix has managed just one goal and two assists across all competitions.
He scored 10 times last season as Atletico captured the LaLiga crown, and netted nine during his debut campaign.
There would likely be many willing takers if Atletico were serious about letting him leave the Wanda Metropolitano, but Simeone would be loath to lose a player he feels can contribute.
Asked about Joao Felix’s future in the short term, Simeone told a news conference: “I always understand everything, I am open to everything, and the most important thing is always the team, where Joao is an important figure.
“He has to repeat performances like the one he had the other day at the Bernabeu. He showed all the talent he has, and I hope he would repeat it more times because he is the footballer we need.”
The former Benfica forward was a big-money acquisition in 2019 as he arrived at Atletico in a jaw-dropping €126million deal, but he has yet to live up to that price tag.
Atletico tackle Sevilla in LaLiga on Saturday, facing the second-placed side in the Spanish top-flight after losing to leaders Real Madrid last weekend.
Not just your average ordinary everyday MATCHDAY! pic.twitter.com/5HqLxC31Rk
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) December 18, 2021
It remains to be seen what role Joao Felix will play in that game.
Simeone said: “He is a very good footballer, the same thing happens with Portugal where many times he does not start, but he does finish the games.
“With all the players, I look to improve them by thinking about what the team needs. I understand that the best way to grow is by working. Joao has conditions that just by seeing him, you realise he is a great player.”