Benfica forward Joao Felix will only remain at the club if he is loaned back for next season by whoever signs him, according to club president Luis Filipe Vieira.
The forward is linked with Premier League pair Manchester United and Manchester City along with super-clubs elsewhere in Europe, such as Juventus and Real Madrid.
Benfica insist they will not sell for less than the player’s €120m (£106m) release clause, which the club’s president claims was recently doubled.
Whos is Joao Felix? Five things to know…
- Age: 19 (10/11/1999)
- Position: Forward
- Career path: Benfica B (2016-18) > Benfica (2018-)
- Key stat: Only three players outscored Felix (15) in this season’s Primeira Liga.
- Did you know? Porto released Felix as a 14-year-old because he was too small, according to O Jogo.
Speaking to reporters, club president Vieira admits that it will be almost impossible to keep the player at the club, especially if his release clause is met this summer.
Vieira explained to Benfica members: “We sit down with players, and they say, ‘president, I can earn €5million, president, do not make me stay here.’
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“Joao Felix had a release clause of €60m and we realised after two or three games that we must increase it to €120m.
“But it is Joao Felix and his family who will decide if he stays. If someone bids €120m, it is not worth dreaming that he will stay.
“We are trying everything to ensure he stays. But the only way is if we sell him and keep him another year. If not, Joao leaves. There is no room to negotiate further. He doesn’t want to [stay]. How will Benfica negotiate with someone after he is given a proposal of €6m after tax?”
Felix was promoted to the Benfica senior team at the beginning of their title-winning 2018/19 campaign, in which he has scored 20 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions.
Felix has expressed a preference for La Liga over the Premier League but, in spite of Vieira’s pessimism, also insists he is happy with Benfica.
‘Better than Bernardo Silva at his age’
It has been a season of milestones for Felix.
On the club front, he has made his first senior appearance, scored his first senior goal and won his first major trophy with Benfica. On the international front, he has virtually done the same, making his first appearance in the semi-final of the Uefa Nations League, which Portugal won.
His breakthrough has resulted in bold claims, with Carlos Carvalhal comparing Felix favourably to Manchester City and Portugal star Bernardo Silva, who was named Uefa Nations League Player of the Tournament on Sunday.
“Bernardo Silva is one of the best players in the world at this moment,” former Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea manager Carvalhal told the BBC.
“But at 19, he did not show the talent that Felix is showing in this moment at 19 – so imagine what kind of player we are talking about.”