Will Joao Felix walk the 'legendary' path at Atletico Madrid?
It was a massive summer for the Spanish giants, Atletico Madrid. The Rojiblancos faced an immense task during the transfer window, with the departures of top players including Diego Godin, Lucas Hernandez, Rodri, and Antoine Griezmann leaving major voids behind that needed to be filled.
Atletico emerged as one of the top spenders of the summer, splashing over €200 million to lure the likes of Hector Herrera, Kieran Trippier, Alvaro Morata, Marcos Llorente, Ivan Saponjic and Renan Lodl to the Wanda Metropolitano. Among all the new faces that arrived, Portuguese teenager, Joao Felix, garners the most attention.
When it became inevitable that Griezmann would leave for Barcelona, Atletico decided to act beforehand and replaced the Frenchman with another highly-talented attacker. Felix was in the limelight following a brilliant season with Benfica that produced 15 goals in 26 league appearances.
He became Atletico's most expensive recruit when he signed a five-year deal with the club which commanded a whopping €126 million in transfer fees. Given his mammoth cost and the tremendous potential he displayed at Benfica, Felix is expected to shine at Wanda Metropolitano and all eyes are already on him.
The Portuguese is a highly talented attacker with immense skills and natural goal-scoring instincts. His movement, dribbling, touches, space hunting, confidence and composure on the ball has earned him a lot of comparisons with Brazilian great, Ricardo Kaka.
He is a predator in the box; capable of causing damages to opposition defenses from almost any angle. Thanks to his versatility, dynamism, and tactical flexibility, the winger can operate in any position across the offensive zones. This will give manager Diego Simeone plenty of options in attack next season.
At 19, Felix has enormous talent and age on his side to reach his full potential and develop as the face of the club. In fact, many are already tipping him to follow the footsteps of Atletico's greats such as Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao and the man he was bought to replace - Antoine Griezmann. These are players who left a huge mark on the club and will forever be remembered for their legendary exploits.
Big boots to fill
To start with, Fernando Torres is every inch an Atletico legend to be emulated. Born and bred in Madrid, he became the captain of the club at just 19 and led them out of the Segunda Division during the 2001/2002 campaign. His highlight came in the 2003/2004 season where he bagged 19 goals in 35 La Liga appearances for the Rojiblancos. Although he eventually left for the Premier League, he later returned to the club and helped them to win a couple of trophies before leaving for Japan and finally retiring this year.
Sergio Aguero followed the same path, becoming a legend of the club with his 101 goals in 234 appearances - while Radamel Falcao will always be remembered for leading the club to a Copa Del Rey triumph in 2013. The same goes for Diego Costa, who remains an icon in the eyes of the Rojiblancos faithful following his exploits during the 2013/2014 season - when his 27 goals fired the club to a La Liga title.
Echoes of Antoine Griezmann's heroics are still fresh in memory. The Frenchman bagged a whopping 133 goals and 50 assists for Atletico during his five-year stint. He also led the club to glory in the Europa League, the UEFA Super Cup, and the Supercoppa de Espana before deciding to leave this summer.
Luis Aragones. Adrian Escudero. Diego Forlan. The list can go on for some more time. Joao Felix will not be short of examples to follow to become an Atletico legend. The question, however, is, can he climb the ladder to immortality at Wanda Metropolitano?
Comparing Felix with the names and examples listed above, it is clear that he isn't behind in terms of talent. In fact, there's one thing that is common between him and the aforementioned superstars - that is potential.
The attacker has the potential to reach the top of the game. At just 19, he has already become a global star - with International success to his name - following Portugal's UEFA Nations League triumph this year.
With age and talent on his side, he has what it takes to make history. Following his brilliant goal for Atletico against Eibar in their recent La Liga encounter, we can start sensing that he would make it to the top at the Wanda Metropolitano. Only time will tell whether he becomes the legend he definitely has the potential to be and has already shown glimpses of becoming.