Simeone: I am clear about what I want from Joao Felix

By Daniel Lewis 31 October 2020 58
Simeone: I am clear about what I want from Joao Felix

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is confident Joao Felix will continue to improve his all-round game as he backed the young forward to thrive in a more reserved position.

The Portugal international scored twice in an impressive display to rescue his side a 3-2 win against Salzburg in Tuesday's Champions League clash.

At 20 years and 352 days, he became the second-youngest player to score a brace for Atletico in the Champions League after Sergio Aguero (20 years, 106 days) against PSV in September 2008.

He has started five games for Atleti in all competitions this term and been used just off main striker Luis Suarez in each of them, scoring three times in total.

The ex-Benfica attacker is averaging 4.94 touches of the ball in the opposition box in LaLiga this term, which is behind only Suarez (6.49) and Yannick Carrasco (5.41) among Atletico players.

Some have questioned whether Simeone's system can get the best out of the young talent, suggesting he needs greater freedom to thrive, but the Atleti head coach insists it is always about putting the team first.

"I'm not going to talk about the opinions of players or others," Simeone said at a pre-match news conference ahead of Saturday's LaLiga trip to Osasuna.

"Everyone has an opinion and I am very respectful to others. I have made it clear what we need from Joao. There is room for his game to grow.

"He played a very good game against Granada and Huesca, against Villarreal and in the last minutes versus Celta Vigo, plus two games for Portugal.

"We talked the other day and I have no problems responding to questions about Joao - I will continue to do so.

"But I don't understand what it means by more freedom. Freedom is not about playing anywhere you want. Important players always give for the team, regardless of the position."

Atleti have conceded six goals in their past three matches, four of those coming in a heavy loss away to Bayern Munich, and Simeone acknowledges his side need to tighten up.

"I don't want to talk about individual situations in defence," he said. "But collectively, when we work hard as a team, the whole side benefits.

"We have to improve because our strength has always been having a strong defence, but at the same time we are growing in other aspects. It is about finding the right balance."

Atletico are seeking a fifth league win in a row against Osasuna without conceding and Simeone is happy with his side's overall start to the campaign.

"Things have been good so far," he said. "We need to continue with the same regularity now. We face a tough opponent next, but we will take the game to them and try to hurt them."

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