It is very rare for Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid to go down the route of splashing money. Los Rojiblancos have seldom looked towards the coffers to solve their problems, and Joao Felix may well be the most recent big-money signing in the club’s history.
However, the Portuguese international’s record at the club is far from encouraging. He has been dismal for Atletico Madrid over the past three years and far from justified his €106 million price tag.
According to reports from MARCA, his situation this season is no different. The Spanish outlet state that Felix has generated numerous doubt in the minds of the club coaching staff with his recent performances.
The manager is already considering leaving him out of the starting XI for the game against Sevilla and playing Angel Correa in his place.
While his performances this season have not been abysmal, his display against Real Madrid, in particular, was worrying. The youngster disappeared on the biggest stage and had no significant contribution till he was substituted out in the 60th minute.
Atleti’s problems with Antoine Griezmann, coupled with this, comes at a particularly worrying time. They are seated seventh in the league after six games, having scored only ten goals.
Felix, meanwhile, is yet to open his account for the season, with Alvaro Morata leading their personal charts with three goals. The Portuguese does have three assists to his name, but for what it’s worth, they all came against Getafe on matchday one.
It is reported that Los Rojblancos rejected a €130 million offer from Manchester United for Felix in the summer. If indeed that is true, the club could end up regretting their decision, given the player’s poor impact on the team.
While the doors have not closed for him yet, he will have to work exceedingly hard to win back the management’s trust.
Atletico Madrid midfielder on the derby against Real Madrid: “Very difficult to beat them”
Following a 1-1 draw in their Champions League opener against Lazio, Atletico Madrid will shift all their attention to La Liga, as they brace themselves for the derby against Real Madrid this weekend.
Heading into this game, Atleti midfielder Marcos Llorente spoke about Real Madrid’s quality and Atletico Madrid’s chances of squeezing all three points from this iconic derby.
Llorente on Madrid derby
“The sensations are good. The team is very good, the other day we played a great game despite ending up drawing. I really think that the team did a great job that must be maintained for this match,” Llorente said in an interview with Diario AS.
When asked whether or not Real Madrid being tagged as favourites could aid Atleti, the midfielder said, “Honestly, it neither motivates me nor demotivates me. We simply have to do what we work on during the week, what the coach asks of us.”
Llorente stressed the importance of the game, adding, “It is a great rival we have in front of us, they are having a very good start to the season and that motivates me and everyone to try to play a good game.”
“Real Madrid is a great club, they have great players and it is very difficult to beat them. I think we have competed, we have also achieved several draws, but in the end, either you go out one hundred percent and do things very, very well or it is difficult to beat them,” he added.
A former member of the Real Madrid youth academy, Llorente joined Atletico Madrid in 2019. Since then, he has racked up over 150 competitive appearances for Los Colchoneros.
Llorente, though, said he feels no sense of vindication when he performs well against his former team.
“No. In the end, it’s been many years since I left there and I’m at Atlético. Perhaps in the first years, those types of feelings and sensations can arise, but today they no longer do,” he said.
Llorente on Vinicius, Koke & Bellingham
The Atletico Madrid star went on to talk about other aspects of the game, including the fact that his team had one less player every time they faced Real Madrid last season.
“I have zero worries. These are things that are not in our remit, that escape our hands. We play football, the referees referee and those who have to decide decide,” he said.
Llorente, in fact, said that the return of Koke could be a real boost for Atleti. “It is always good that Koke is with us, both on the field and in the day-to-day life of the game,” he said.
“Beyond the grass. The support he gives, the advice he gives us, his experience. it is always important to have him and it is great news that he is already training with us,” he added.
Talking about the absence of Vinicius Junior and the form of Jude Bellingham, Llorente said, “Well, you have to be careful with everyone. All Real Madrid players are very good and can make a difference at any moment of the game. Bellingham is having a great start and we have to take that into account and be very focused.”
Finally, Marcos Llorente put out a message for all the Atletico Madrid fans, claiming their support ahead of this crucial encounter this weekend.
“It will be a full house as always. We don’t have to tell them anything, they know the importance of this match for Atlético, we know that they never fail, they are always supporting us and we count on them,” he said.