It has been a busy 24 hours at the Estadio Metropolitano with Spanish giant Atletico Madrid confirming two big signings and a lucrative sale on Thursday.

The arrival of Portuguese starlet Joao Felix shattered Atleti’s transfer record with an estimated £113 million parted with to land the 19-year-old, while at the opposite end of the spectrum, an astute bit of business saw FC Porto’s Mexican midfielder Hector Herrera arrive on a free.

These deals came just days after yet another arrival from Portugal was confirmed, with Porto centre-back Felipe joining the club following confirmation of Diego Godin’s free transfer to Inter Milan.

And on a day of transfer records being broken, Manchester City activated Rodrigo’s £62.8 million release clause to break their own record, poaching the 23-year-old after spending just one season under Diego Simeone.

Felix, who becomes one of the top five most expensive players of all time, was thrust firmly into the limelight when he became the youngest scorer of a hat-trick in the rebranded UEFA Europa League era with a fantastic treble against Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarter-finals.

An international debut beckoned at the UEFA Nations League finals where he started in Portugal’s 3-1 semi-final victory over Switzerland, but watched the entirety of their 1-0 final win against Netherlands from the substitute’s bench.

The young star has been linked with a host of Europe’s top clubs since the turn of the year but it is Atletico who have secured the services of the man dubbed the next Cristiano Ronaldo – big shoes to fill undoubtedly.

Felix plays similarly to CR7 in that he is adept at playing anywhere across the front three and has pace and skill in abundance, and he has landed himself in a fantastic environment at a world-class club and under a top manager in Diego Simeone that will help nurture his development into a global superstar.

Herrera joins under completely different circumstances, not only in the clear difference in price but also in the timing with respect to his career as at 29 years of age, this is the Mexicans first and perhaps only shot at making it at a real European powerhouse.

Having climbed through the ranks at Mexican side Pachuca, Herrera made his debut in 2010 as a 20-year-old and would join Porto three years later, where he lifted the league title in 2017/18 as club captain.

The man they call Zorro has racked up vast experience in club and international football with 70 caps for Mexico that include winning the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, as well as over 40 appearances in the UEFA Champions League with Porto and more than 150 matches played for the club as a whole.

He has developed a reputation as a clean midfield technician who can get box-to-box but is best impacting the game in the final third with late runs into the penalty area or threading passes through the defence for his attackers to feed on.

He is the type of professional that any team could call upon to help strengthen their team with a ferocity and hunger to fight for the football and play with passion for a whole 90 minutes.

His skillset should suit Spanish football very well and his arrival will be one of intrigue at the Metropolitano as he presumably comes in as a replacement for Rodri, slotting into an already fantastic midfield boasting the likes of Saul, Koke and Thomas Partey.

His teammate Felipe will also be a worthy addition and key in replacing the long-serving Godin at centre half, but the Brazilian has insisted he arrives at the club with a point to prove and not just to replace the Uruguayan.

Standing at 190cm tall, Felipe played 31 times in Liga NOS last season and took part in all 10 of Porto’s Champions League games as well, making nearly 100 appearances at the Estadio do Dragao in three seasons after joining from Corinthians.

With Antoine Griezmann publicly expressing his desire to leave the club and heavily believed to be on his way to Barcelona, Simeone has been active in the market and drafted in three high quality replacements for key players that he is losing for next season, and Atleti will no doubt continue to catch the eye in European football in season 2019/20.

 

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Nick Hughes
nick.hughesy6@gmail.com