Joao Felix opens up on injury hell during second season at Atletico Madrid

Joao Felix is considered one of the brightest prospects in world football, but not everything has gone to plan during his time at Atletico Madrid.

Before his move to Spain, the 22-year-old captivated Benfica fans with his speed, creativity and technical ability. He scored 15 goals in 26 appearances. The Portugal international also became the youngest player in Europa League history to score a hattrick, aged just 19 years and 152 days.

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His fantastic performance against Eintracht Frankfurt captured the attention of Atletico. They smashed their transfer record and signed the youngster for a whopping €126 million in 2019. For a fee this big, they expected instant results. However, they are still waiting to reap the absolute total rewards of their investment. 

Felix’s attacking style slightly departs from the usual profile of Atletico’s forwards. The Portuguese man has predominantly played a deeper role than the one he played at Benfica and found it difficult to find form in his first season.

However, that form improved at the start of the 2020/21 campaign. On 27 September, he opened the season with a goal and an assist in a 6-1 victory over Granada. He followed this with a superb finish against Salzburg in the Champions League.

Two further goals in La Liga earned him the ‘Player of the Month‘ accolade for November. But then his progress came to a grinding halt.

Joao Felix reveals all about Atletico Madrid injury problems

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The 22-year-old sustained an ankle injury which saw him tumble out of favour at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Felix scored just once in three months throughout the winter, which significantly impacted his time on the pitch. But that didn’t hamper his spirits, despite playing through the injury for an incredible six months. He told The Athletic that he still wanted to play for the team.

“It was a difficult season. At the beginning, I was very good, then I got the injury,” he said.

“I played for six months with a broken bone in my foot. The people did not know that. They just found out after the surgery [following last summer’s European Championship]. It was my choice to play this way, to try to help the team. It was difficult, yeah, but I felt part of it, part of the team.”

The injury caused massive disruption to the end of last season and the start of the current campaign. But he has begun to find his best form once again in recent months.

In October, he produced one of the best performances of his career. He bamboozled the Barcelona defence to provide Luis Suarez and Thomas Lemar with opportunities to score.

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Felix has now set his sights on a massive Champions League last 16 fixture against Manchester United, in which he’ll be playing against his Portuguese teammates.

He explained: “It is very good to play against your friends. It is always fun like we are playing in the garden.

“With Bruno [Fernandes], we exchanged messages when the draw was made. Bruno is a very, very good player. It is very easy to play with him. When he has the ball, he always chooses the best option to give you a chance to score. That is why he gets a lot of assists.

“Cristiano [Ronaldo] is a role model for all of us in the national team, so he gives us a lot of good advice, and we like to listen.”

Joao Felix is one of the most promising prospects on the planet – and he has already shown plenty of glimpses of his talent. So there’s no doubt that fans won’t have long to wait to see him reach his sky-high potential at Atletico Madrid.

Featured Image Credit: Getty