Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix believes he can reach the heights of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland to take over from Lionel Messi as the best player in the world.
Felix, 21, became football’s fourth-most expensive player ever after he completed a £113m move from Benfica to Atletico Madrid in 2019, attracting the attention of the Spanish giants following a breakthrough maiden campaign in Lisbon.
During the 2018/19 season, Felix helped himself to 20 goals and 11 assists in all competitions for Benfica, including 15 Primeira Liga goals as the club clinched the title and the young Portuguese mopped up a panoply of individual accolades.
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The precocious midfield jewel was named in the Europa League Squad of the Season, earned Primeira Liga’s Best Young Player of the Year, collected the highly-coveted Golden Boy for 2019 and finished 28th in the Ballon d’Or standings for that year.
However, after two seasons at the Metropolitano, Felix is yet to scale the heights of that truly astonishing campaign, his first in professional football, with injury problems and issues with consistency so far hampering his world class potential.
Despite his initial teething problems east of the Iberian Peninsula, the Viseu-born attacker believes he can yet rediscover his 2018/19 form and rub shoulders with the likes of Haaland and Mbappe when the conversation moves towards who the best young talent in world football is at the minute.
When asked if he could compete with the likes of Mbappe and Haaland to succeed Messi as the world’s best, Felix replied: “I can.
“I’ve not yet reached my best level. In the last few seasons I’ve had several injuries and I’ve not enjoyed an injury-free season.
“But when that happens I think I can fight to be in that position.”
Felix finished his debut season at Atleti having bagged nine goals and assisted thrice across all competitions, while last term he hit double digits with 10 finishes and doubled his assists output (six). However, with an ankle fracture at the start of this campaign and a two-match suspension, Felix is yet to hit the ground running.
He featured just 56 and 50 minutes respectively against Porto and Milan in the Champions League last month, and recently returned for the 2-0 win over Barcelona in La Liga, but thus far a goal contribution has eluded the aspiring Ballon d’Or recipient.