Football News

Joao Felix: Simeone and Atletico Madrid are “wrong” for 2019 Golden Boy, says Van der Vaart

By Harry Edwards

Published: 20:48, 3 February 2020

Former Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Rafael van der Vaart claims Joao Felix joined the “wrong” club in Atletico Madrid.

Felix, 20, became the most expensive signing of the 2019 summer transfer window after completing an eye-watering move from Benfica to Atleti for £113m.

In his final campaign for Benfica, Felix was directly involved in 31 goals across all competitions, scoring 20 and adding 11 assists. His performances, helping Benfica win a record 37th Primeira Liga, played a big role in the youngster being named the 2019 Golden Boy.

Felix beat the likes of Jadon Sancho, Kai Havertz, Erling Braut Haaland and Matthijs de Ligt to the top spot.

However, since joining Atletico Madrid, the Portuguese forward has managed just four goals and two assists in 24 appearances.

And Van der Vaart has put this down to the style of play Diego Simeone utilises at Atleti, believing they are not the right team for a player of Felix’s style.

“Atletico play in a very compact manner with a heavy focus on defending well and attacking on the counter,” he told AS.

“Felix, I feel, is working at the wrong club under the wrong coach.

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“Felix is a fine player but he’s at the wrong club. When they signed the Portuguese striker I felt that they would try and embark on a different brand of playing, but that’s far from the case.

“I understand that winning is important but when you have a talented forward like him, you have to cater to the style of play that suits his needs.”

Since Simeone took charge of Atletico Madrid in 2011, the club have become known for their defence-first style of play, which has brought success. Under their former player, Atletico Madrid have won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and two Europa Leagues, most recently tasting victory in 2018. They have also reached two Champions League finals, though lost out on both occasions to Real Madrid.

But the club have struggled as a whole this season, currently sitting sixth in La Liga having won just nine of their opening 22 games, drawing nine and losing the other four. They remain three points behind fourth-place Sevilla but certainly face a fight to retain their place in the Champions League.

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