Joao Felix is a name we’ve heard a lot more about recently, but who is the Benfica wonderkid supposedly already worth £105million and being linked with a potential transfer to the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool?
Still only 19 years of age, Felix is making a real impression in his native Portugal this season, leading to reports like this from the Daily Mirror that the ‘new Cristiano Ronaldo’ could soon be set for a big move and that his club value him at £105m.
Here’s our low-down on the teenage sensation who we’re sure to be hearing a lot more about in the coming months and beyond…
Position and playing style
A player yet to find one set position, it seems Felix may be too good to pin down to just one role.
Having largely played as a winger in his youth, Felix has gradually moved into more of a central role as his career’s gone on, coming in to the Benfica first-team initially as a wide-forward in a front three, and then one half of a front two.
A player who likes to drift wide or into that number ten area, Felix has something to offer in all those roles – a quick and tricky runner, he can tear full-backs apart on either flank, or, as an intelligent passer and clinical finisher, he can pop up behind the main centre-forward to link play or get on the score sheet himself.
Despite the inevitable Ronaldo comparisons due to being Portuguese, Felix arguably looks a bit more like Lionel Messi due to his small frame and desire to be involved in as much build-up play as possible, even if he does look like he could also become almost as good a poacher as Ronaldo.
The Portugal Under-21 international has nine goals and three assists in 24 games in all competitions this season in what has been a breakthrough campaign for him.
Felix had been a regular at youth level for Benfica last season, but he’s been a key player for the senior side since his promotion this term.
Most recently, the youngster has three goals and two assists in his last five appearances.
Felix started out at Porto as a youngster, and how they must be regretting letting him go.
According to Sky Sports, the teenager was seen as too small and too slight for Porto as they let a number of youth players leave.
Felix had been at Porto for six years between 2008 and 2014 before a spell at Padroense and then finally his move to Benfica in 2015.
The wonderkid scored seven goals in 29 games for Benfica B before becoming a first-team regular this season.
According to the Mirror, the list is long: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.
If we do see the 19-year-old in the Premier League, one imagines United or City would be the best-placed financially to snap him up, with City having that advantage of generally offering top young players the chance to develop their game under the expert guidance of Pep Guardiola.
Although City don’t promote from within that much, Phil Foden has had some first-team chances this season, while Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus both joined as youngsters and have been made key players in the side.
At United, Felix could obviously be a good replacement for the struggling Alexis Sanchez, while Liverpool could perhaps do with more options up front as the likes of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino haven’t quite hit the heights of last season this term.
Chelsea’s interest also make sense given the Eden Hazard situation. Arsenal, you’d think, surely cannot afford him. Real Madrid, PSG or Bayern would be good moves, though the competition at all would be fierce to the extent that you worry it might halt his development. And what a shame that would be.