Joao Felix has started to discover his “best moments” since joining Atletico Madrid ahead of their Champions League clash with Porto, according to Diego Simeone.
The Portugal international became the fifth most expensive signing in history when he joined Atleti from Benfica for €126million in July 2019.
Only Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele have moved for larger fees in world football than Joao Felix, who signed a seven-year deal but has struggled to deliver thus far.
The 22-year-old offered encouraging signs at the start of the 2022-23 season, though, assisting all three goals in the 3-0 opening-day LaLiga win over Getafe.
While Joao Felix is yet to find the net this season, Simeone believes the forward is finding his feet in the Spanish capital as Atleti prepare to host Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday.
“Joao is at the best moments in the years since we have been together, more mature, stronger, more sure of himself, involved in what the team needs,” Simeone said.
“He has all the talent, the ability… he just has to tap into it.”
Joao Felix will likely line up alongside Alvaro Morata against Porto, but Atleti could be without Jan Oblak, who was forced off with injury in the closing stages against Real Sociedad on Saturday.
“It will be assessed tomorrow morning. From there we will see what can happen,” Simeone said of Oblak’s fitness. “Ivo Grbic is ready, we believe in him, he is ready to play.”
Our European journey begins tomorrow pic.twitter.com/ZP0NXg9O03
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) September 6, 2022
Atletico were narrow 1-0 aggregate losers to Manchester City in the quarter-finals of last year’s competition, and Simeone is relishing the challenge of going further this campaign.
“The Champions League is not just another game, it is different,” he added. “We will have to do things well from the first game, with our people, in our stadium, to grow in the competition.
“It’s clear that the Champions League is always very difficult, but it’s an opportunity. Last season we had a good Champions League, we were close to being among the best, but we competed very well.
“It’s just beginning, we have to demonstrate what we imagine and what we’re excited about, hopefully with the team’s work we’ll have a good Champions League.”