Let me start by admitting something.
I’ve watched Joao Felix play for precisely 70 minutes. It was a fairly underwhelming 70 minutes, spent failing to trouble a Switzerland defence on his Portugal debut, but that’s beside the point.
There’s no doubting Felix’s potential. The 19-year-old scored 18 goals in all competitions for Benfica last season, lifting a first Primeira Liga title in the process.
Only three players- Benfica team-mates Haris Seferovic and Rafa and Sporting CP’s Bruno Fernandes- outscored Felix in terms of Portuguese league goals.
He lit up the Europa League with a hat-trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in April, outgunning Luka Jovic in the battle of Europe’s most-tweeted-about marksmen.
Rui Costa, the man whom shone in Lisbon as a teenager before moving to the playmakers’ playground of Serie A, labelled his potential heir as ‘extraordinary’ and ‘remarkable’.
In short, the future looks very bright for the youngster who was released by Porto for being too slight.
But if/when (delete depending on when you’re reading this) Atletico splash out £107.5million to sign the forward, we should collectively mourn the final nail in the coffin of the transfer window.
Felix would become the fifth most expensive footballer of all time, taking his place on the podium behind Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.
Of that quartet, Mbappe and Dembele were the least experienced with two season of top-flight football under their belt before moving to PSG and Barcelona respectively.
It’s worth noting that Mbappe’s second season included nine games and six goals in the Champions League for Monaco, while Dembele made 32 appearances in the Bundesliga for Borussia Dortmund.
Neymar was in his eighth season as a professional footballer when he swapped Barcelona for PSG and Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona with nine years as a pro under his belt.
Atletico are willing to commit £107.5mil on a player with one season of top-level football to his name.
Even with their clairvoyant ability to purchase world-class strikers, Atletico are closing their eyes and throwing the world’s fifth-most expensive dart at a very small target.
That’s not to say it won’t pay off. By their very nature every gamble has an upside, and Felix’s upside is clear for all to see.
If he hits the ground running in Spain then Atletico will be able sell Felix for a lofty profit when the time eventually comes, as appears to be the case with Antoine Griezmann.
Aside from the lack of experience, Felix will be adjusting to a new country, an infamously combative way of playing under Diego Simeone and the pressure of being Atletico’s first £100m-player.
The odds are stacked against him, regardless of his talent.
Atletico are betting on the future, just as arch-rivals Real Madrid have done with Brazilian duo Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.
In 100 years time, Wild West movies will have been replaced by documentaries about millions of pounds rotting on loan at Vitesse Arnhem or pillaging goals in the North Korean Super League.
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