Diego Simeone addresses Joao Felix future amid Premier League interest

Joao Felix

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has stressed that Joao Felix remains ‘important’ to the club and will have a big role to play in the second half of the season if he can carry over his form for Portugal at the World Cup to club level.

Felix cost Atletico a club record €126m when they activated the release clause in his contract with Benfica in 2019. He was only 19 at the time, but in three and a half years he often tried to justify being one of the most expensive players in the US. History.

In the first half of this season, Felix started just five La Liga games and none since September. His only starts in any competition over the past three months have been in the Champions League games following Atlético’s elimination and a Copa del Rey tie against lower league opposition.

It paved the way for a potential January exit. 90min reported in November that Felix was ready to look for a move, while Atletico chief executive Gil Marin confirmed back in early December that the club were ready to consider whether the player and Simeone saw eye to eye.

Just this week,  Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal were in talks with Atletico about a possible loan deal for Felix when the January transfer window opens. Each club has expressed an interest in a deal and Atletico are open to a loan move, although the latter’s intention to include a £100m clause for a permanent transfer has caused problems.

Felix showed Portugal what he’s really capable of at the World Cup, scoring in Portugal’s opening win over Ghana and setting up two goals as his side beat Switzerland later on.

Simeone played down the significance of any personal beef between him and Felix, speaking to reporters on Wednesday that they have a ‘good and working relationship’.

The Atlético boss said: “For me the team is important and he is important for the team. If he does for us what we saw at the World Cup, he will be very important. He has talent and the team needs his qualities.

“Since I’ve been at the club, there have been some differences between people and we can’t agree on everything, [but] until the last day I’ve been looking for the best for the club, whether it’s me or the footballers. Everyone gives their best.”

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