The Portuguese sensation, crowned this year’s European Golden Boy, is yet to get his career in Spain off the ground following his huge summer move
Atletico Madrid starlet Joao Felix says he is no longer feeling the pressure of his €126 million (£113m/$142m) price tag as he settles into life in La Liga.
The Portuguese star, who turned 20 last month, became the third-most expensive player in football history when he moved from Benfica in the summer.
Arriving as part of a dramatic summer overhaul, Felix hasn’t burst into life as of yet with Diego Simeone’s side struggling for consistency – but he says the nature of his arrival isn’t on his mind.
“The €126m won’t weigh me down,” Felix told A Bola. “But when I signed, I thought, ‘Wow, I cost €126m!’”
Felix missed six games between October and November with an ankle injury but has featured in every other one of Atletico’s matches in the league and Champions League.
After netting 20 goals in 43 games for Benfica last season, his current tally stands at four from 18, and manager Simeone has asked to see more gas in the tank of his young star at the end of games as he adapts to Atletico’s style.
“Simeone says these things and they aren’t negative things about me, they are things to improve,” Felix said.
“This is what he thinks, so I am going to work to have a bit more gasoline, a bit more endurance.
“Of course, every day I am growing – if we work every day, we grow every day.
“When the ball starts going in, the goals will start to arrive one after the other and all the sacrifices will have been worthwhile.”
Atletico are seven points off the pace in the Spanish title race, with Barca topping the tree at Christmas.
Simeone and his side will look to claw that deficit back in the new year, and they will also face a significant challenge in the Champions League.
They have been drawn against reigning champions Liverpool in the last 16, a draw which Jurgen Klopp suggested Simeone wouldn’t have been overly happy with.
Felix’s old team Benfica failed to qualify from the group stage, but he believes his former team-mates have what it takes to win the Europa League instead. Benfica are currently four points clear in the Portuguese league table.
“In the league, everything is good,” he said. “The Champions League was not so good, but they managed to qualify for the Europa League.
“They will certainly give everything to win the Europa League, and they have the capacity to do so.”
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