In his debut and breakthrough season, Joao Felix has replicated the impressive feats that Kylian Mbappe achieved when at AS Monaco as a teenager.
The Benfica forward has the eyes of the world fixated on him after what has been a non-stop rollercoaster of a journey throughout this campaign. Remarkably, the Portuguese second striker has a combined 31 goals and assists in 43 first-team appearances this season.
His rise has been meteoric and it is no wonder why the biggest clubs in the world are vying for his signature at the earliest possible chance. Inserted into his contract, which runs until 2023, is a release clause of €120 million – a fee that is very achievable from Benfica’s point of view given the current state of the market.
Felix was an unknown quantity 12 months ago, having played the majority of his football in Portugal’s second division as well as Benfica’s U19 side in the UEFA Youth League. Of course, the Portuguese star was a talent when up against his fellow youth players, but no one had quite anticipated his perfect adjustment to senior football at one of the country’s biggest clubs.
What is perhaps even more staggering, however, is the fact that Felix has only really announced himself to the world since the beginning of this year. Before January, the forward had only managed to start two games in Liga Primeira, with his other four appearances coming from the bench. With that being said, he did manage to start all of Benfica’s Europa League matches.
But since the beginning of January, Felix has netted 13 goals in the league, as well as assisting his team-mates on eight occasions. His numbers speak for themselves, but perhaps even more impressively, it’s Felix’s intuition and decision making that is making him stand out from the crowd.
In Benfica’s 4-4-1-1 formation, Felix sits just behind Haris Seferovic in attack and acts as a patrolling number 10, but with more emphasis on goal-scoring that assisting. The Portugal U21 international has an immense maturity in how he plays the game, as well as his ability to understand where he needs to be at what specific moment; not many, at 19, can think and execute moves so intelligently.
And so with his newfound fame and notoriety, England, Spain, Italy and France’s biggest clubs queue up in an orderly fashion to tell them why their club is best suited to him. Benfica have made it clear, however, that a bid under €100 million will not suffice and will have to break that barrier to acquire their prize possession.
Whether or not he moves this summer, and in practice, he should remain for another season at least, Felix’s future is one of the brightest in Europe and it will be interesting to see how far he can push himself over the next couple of years.