Atletico set to smash record for Felix

Benfica's Portuguese midfielder Joao Felix celebrating after scoring against Maritimo in the Portuguese Primeira Liga in April. Atletico want him as a replacement for Antoine Griezmann, who is set to join Barcelona. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Benfica's Portuguese midfielder Joao Felix celebrating after scoring against Maritimo in the Portuguese Primeira Liga in April. Atletico want him as a replacement for Antoine Griezmann, who is set to join Barcelona. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MADRID • Benfica are evaluating an €126 million (S$193.7 million) offer for Portugal forward Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid, the Portuguese champions said in a statement on Wednesday.

If terms are agreed, the 19-year-old would become the most expensive player in the Spanish LaLiga club's history, smashing their transfer fee record of €72 million when they signed France forward Thomas Lemar from Monaco last season.

In a statement to Portuguese Securities Market Commission, Benfica said: "Atletico Madrid submitted a proposal for the acquisition of (Felix) for a total amount of €126,000,000 which is being analysed."

While the bid has met the player's release clause, it has not been triggered because Atletico want to pay the fee by instalments.

Should the deal go through, Felix would become the fifth-most expensive footballer after:

 • Neymar, who holds the record after his €222 million move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017

 • Kylian Mbappe (€180 million)

 • Philippe Coutinho (€160 million)

 • Ousmane Dembele (€105 million)

Felix scored 19 times for Benfica last season, including a memorable Europa League hat-trick against Eintracht Frankfurt, making him the youngest player to accomplish the feat in the competition.

An uptick in performances towards the end of the term earned him a call-up to the Portugal national team. He made his international debut in their Nations League 3-0 semi-final win over Switzerland, partnering captain Cristiano Ronaldo up front.

Atletico have been in the market for an attacker after 28-year-old forward Antoine Griezmann said last month that he would leave in the close season.

Barcelona are said to be waiting for next Monday - when his release clause drops from €200 million to €120 million - before putting in their bid, with the Spanish champions having reportedly agreed personal terms with the French World Cup winner.

Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol believes that English Premier League clubs were right not to take a punt on Felix, telling ESPN he was "not convinced England is the place for this guy".

The pundit added: "I don't think his game is suited to the Premier League.

"You spoke about Ronaldo, Ronaldo's got a different body shape. He's certainly physically stronger than Felix."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2019, with the headline 'Atletico set to smash record for Felix'. Print Edition | Subscribe