Rui Costa Hails 'Extraordinary' Joao Felix Amid Man United and Juventus Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2019

LISBON, PORTUGAL - MARCH 14:  Joao Felix of SL Benfica during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 - Second Leg match between SL Benfica and Dinamo Zagreb at Estadio da Luz on March 14, 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)
Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Benfica sporting director Rui Costa has heaped praise on the club's "extraordinary" star Joao Felix and has admitted they will struggle to keep hold of him this summer. 

The 19-year-old has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign with Benfica and is considered one of European football's most exciting prospects. 

Speaking to Tuttosport (h/t Chris Burton of Goal), Costa commented on the talent of Felix and the €120 million (£103 million) release clause he is said to have in his contract at the Estadio da Luz:

"Someone called him my heir. Or the new Kaka. The truth is that Felix is only Felix.

"He has an extraordinary sense of play and he has a rare ability, he can guess what will happen in front of the goal. He is a modern No. 10, a second striker with a remarkable sense of goal, he scored 10 goals in the league.

"€120 million release clause? We will try to keep him as long as possible, this applies to Felix as it does to all the others. This is the club's policy, then we will see why we are aware that the clauses exist and that certain players cannot be held back indefinitely in Portugal."

Per Burton, the likes of Manchester United, Juventus and Liverpool have all been mentioned as possible suitors for the teenager. 

Ben Smith of ESPN FC reported Manchester City are also keeping tabs on the progress of the youngster, who has drawn comparisons with his compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo. 

It's no shock the biggest clubs in Europe are said to be considering a move for Felix, as he has the potential to go to the top of the game. As relayed by Portuguese football journalist Tom Kundert, there's justifiable hype in his homeland about his future:

Tom Kundert @PortuGoal1

"It’s enough to watch him play to see he’s different from other players. Scouts were in the stands from Manchester United, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Dortmund and Félix must have left them crazy with the talent he was spreading over the pitch." https://t.co/z2HkSOjHBp

Marcus Alves thinks the 19-year-old will be at the summit of European football for a while:

Marcus Alves @_marcus_alves

Get used to Joao Felix: he might not be at Benfica for much longer, but when it comes to the top level of European football, he's definitely here to stay. I profiled Portugal's player of the next decade for @brfootball https://t.co/SlMoLYJRec

This season, Felix has been entrusted with more responsibility in the Benfica side, starting 13 matches in the Portuguese top flight.

He's relished being a more significant part of the team. Whether operating as a left winger, a centre-forward or a second striker, his intelligence in possession and dribbling skill has been too hot for many defences to deal with.

In addition, he has a composure in front of goal that's rare for youngsters. Scouted Football put the accomplishments of the Benfica sensation this season into some context:

Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl

João Félix's 10th Primeira Liga goal of the season. He has only made 13 starts. He has only played 1,038 minutes. He is only 19 years-old. https://t.co/ii5kWKMeu8

It's testament to Felix that he appears to be taking his rapid and the speculation regarding his future in his stride.

Benfica have earned a reputation for selling on their best assets for big money in recent years and Costa seems to feel his departure will come. However, at this stage of his career, Felix's development would likely be enhanced by another season with the Lisbon giants, at least.