Scout report: Benfica forward João Félix
Likened to Rui Costa and Kaká, João Félix dreams of playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo; UEFA.com introduces the Benfica prospect.
Name: João Félix
2018/19*: 42 games, 18 goals
Who is he?
João Félix is Benfica’s prodigiously talented attacking midfielder whose goals are fuelling his side’s Portuguese Liga and UEFA Europa League charge.
What makes him so good?
There’s the stylish touch, the languid movement, the positional versatility, the impish skill and the preternatural awareness, but most exciting about the teenager is his goalscoring. Even while his best position remains tantalisingly undecided – he has featured as both an attacking midfielder and a second striker – João Félix has hit double figures domestically and recently opened his UEFA Europa League account with a stunning hat-trick against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Why is he the centre of attention?
João Félix shot to prominence by scoring a late equaliser against Benfica’s city rivals Sporting on just his third senior appearance, but his treble against Eintracht had Europe purring. At just 19 years and 152 days old, the forward broke the record held by none other than Eusébio to become the youngest Portuguese player to score a European hat-trick – and the youngest ever to score a UEFA Europa League treble.
Where has he come from?
The prodigy spent the early part of his youth career with Porto, only making the move to the record Portuguese champions’ Seixal academy midway through his teens. Porto’s loss was Benfica’s gain, João Félix excelling for the Eagles in the UEFA Youth League – underlining his potential with a brilliant semi-final backheel goal against Real Madrid in 2017 – before joining the senior squad in 2018/19.
When did he make his debut?
After impressing in a succession of substitute displays in August 2018, the forward earned a first senior start against Aves the following month, duly finding the net after 34 minutes. He featured in Benfica’s UEFA Champions League campaign prior to their group stage exit, with his first continental goals arriving via that April 2019 hat-trick against Frankfurt.
How far could he go?
Young Portuguese goalscorers understandably earn comparisons to Ronaldo – who João Félix has said it would be a “dream” to play alongside – but the youngster’s elegance is more reminiscent of Rui Costa or even Kaká. He is yet to make his senior Portugal debut, but the UEFA Nations League Finals are a stated aim; maintain this level of performance and João Félix should quickly become accustomed to the biggest stages.
What they say …
“We’re not going to turn João Félix into a superhero. He’s a fantastic kid and still has a lot to learn, technically and tactically. We’re not putting him under any pressure; we just want him to play his natural game and keep growing. That’s what we believe will happen working with us.”
Bruno Lage, Benfica coach
“Portuguese football can be proud to have such a rare talent once again. To be so calm at just 19; he is unbelievably intelligent within the game, moves well and is quick.”
Adolf Hütter, Eintracht Frankfurt coach
“He is a player who can show his potential not just to Benfica fans but to fans across Europe. He has enormous quality and a calmness with the ball at his feet.”
Jonas, Benfica forward
“He’s practically a complete player for his age. From an emotional and mental point of view, he’s very strong, at the elite level.”
João Tralhão, former Benfica youth coach
“I have another reason to watch Benfica games now: he’s called João Félix. I’m delighted that such a talent has appeared in Portuguese football; of course, that satisfaction is increased because he’s at my club.”
António Simões, Benfica and Portugal great
“They’ve already called him my heir or the new Kaká. To be honest, Félix is just Félix. He has an extraordinary understanding of the game and the rare ability to know where to be in front of goal. João is another gem from our academy. He’s the kid of the moment, and deservedly so. He’s a good example of what we’re trying to create.”
Rui Costa, Benfica and Portugal great
What he says …
“I’m a clever player. I like to have the ball and score goals.”
“My parents have this saying about me: ‘When João was a baby, he could dribble a football before he could walk.'”
“I like Mbappé as a player and I like that celebration. At the moment, Mbappé is the striker I like the most.”
“Ronaldo is an incredibly hard worker and an example for everyone. He’s been one of the best in the world for several years and will continue to be.”
“As I grew as a man, and as a player, I realised that’s what I loved — to have the ball, and to play wonderful, happy football. That’s when I’m at my best, that’s when I am me.”
*appearance data includes games for Benfica and Portugal Under-21s