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There is no sports talk show that has not brought up the topic of whether or not Joao Felix will celebrate a goal against Atlético de Madrid. The football talk about the Portuguese is even surpassing the interest aroused by one of the big matches of this first third of LaLiga on this matchday 15: the fourth, FC Barcelona, against the Rojiblancos, third.

The majority opinion, of course, is that the one in Viseu will celebrate and, moreover, in an ostensible way. While there are few who believe that he will not do it out of respect for the club to which he belongs or more than believe it, they want it. "I hope he doesn't celebrate," said Atletico president Enrique Cerezo during the presentation of his book. Although Cerezo himself later said that if he kisses the Barça shield it is "because he feels Barcelona".

However, sources at the club told EL MUNDO that "the normal thing is that he is happy if he scores a goal" and there is no concern or "his gestures will be monitored" in the event that he plays a good game today against Atlético or ends up scoring a goal.

Who didn't do it when he scored against 'his' team at home last year was Rodrigo Riquelme. In fact, he apologized as soon as he scored and received a standing ovation from the Metropolitano. "I didn't expect the applause. I got to play against them. I defend the Girona badge, but I thank the Atlético fans," he said.

The situation, obviously, is not the same. Riquelme has been a red-and-white academy player since he was a youngster and has always defended that his dream is to succeed at Atlético de Madrid, which he is now achieving. Joao Felix, on the other hand, said last summer, when he was still playing for the red and whites, that his dream was different. "He's always been my first choice and I'd love to join Barca," he told journalist Fabrizio Romano. And he achieved it on the last day of the transfer window despite the fact that the club believe that he "crossed a red line" with that announcement.


Atletico and Barça agreed on the loan of the Portuguese, with no option to buy, no bonus for the move, but with the Catalans assuming the player's full contract. A move that came after Felix renewed his contract with the Colchoneros until 2029 (he had a contract until 2027) to facilitate the amortization of his salary when he was registered in LaLiga by Barcelona. "He is ill-advised when it comes to getting the loan and he could have gotten it in another way," Atletico sources say, although they also report that the player has already "apologised in the appropriate channels" for that announcement.

The intention of the loan was, obviously, the revaluation of a player who had not finished meeting the high expectations generated by his signing for 126 million euros in 2019. At Atlético he had had good moments, but he had not finished standing out as a world star. Disagreements with his coach over some attitudes and gestures took away his prominence and, finally, a place in the squad. And the club regrets that these disagreements between the two have been aired.

The dressing room no longer liked his declaration of love for Barcelona, and some red-and-white players have recently come out to question the way Felix has approached his time at Atletico. If Antoine Griezmann believed that the Portuguese had lacked consistency and that he "got tired" of trying, Saúl Ñíguez was somewhat more specific: "You have to want, you have to adapt, you have to try to do many things that maybe if your head wasn't at the best moment, then it couldn't be here. I wish him all the best, that everything goes very well at Barça. He's started very strong, I think he could have done things better too, he hasn't, and I think that has taken its toll on the club and the team."

Numbers with Barça

Joao Felix's figures at Barcelona are not stratospheric in the domestic championship, but they are improving in Europe. The Portuguese has one goal and two assists in LaLiga in 11 of the 14 games played and three goals and one assist in the Champions League, in five of five. He's played good times, yes; But he still doesn't have a superstar performance.

What does not and will not vary no matter what happens tonight are Atletico Madrid's pretensions with Joao Felix. The club is holding to a minimum of €80 million to let the player leave this summer. "Atletico are not going to lose the investment they made," they explain. And if he finally stays, "it has been seen that he is not incompatible with Simeone", they say about the last red and white league title, the 2020/21 season, in which Joao Félix has a great role with 31 games, seven goals and six assists.

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  • Diego Simeone
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  • Articles Luis Núñez-Villaveirán