Barcelona v Atletico Madrid: Diego Simeone urges patience for record signing Joao Felix

Portuguese playmaker has struggled to adapt since moving to the Spanish side last summer

epa08102671 Atletico Madrid's forward Joao Felix during the Spanish LaLiga soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Levante UD at Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Spain, 04 January 2020.  EPA/MARISCAL

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has preached patience with big-money signing Joao Felix ahead of his side’s Spanish Super Cup semi-final against Barcelona in Saudi Arabia.

The Portuguese forward, 20, has struggled to adapt to his new side since swapping Benfica for Atletico in July for a reported €126 million (Dh514m) – a fee that made him the fifth costliest player in history.

Felix has scored only twice in 15 La Liga appearances, registering a single assist in that time. In fact, he has failed to be directly involved in a goal in his past 11 hours of league football, despite Atletico sitting third in the standings.

However, when asked about the Portugal international on Wednesday night in Jeddah, 24 hours before his team take on Barcelona at King Abdullah Sports City for a place in Sunday’s final against Real Madrid, Simeone said: “Each player has a different personality, every player needs a different amount of time.

“We try to succeed in getting each one of [the new signings] to experience Atletico with enthusiasm and emotion, because apart from their talent they need commitment.

“When the feeling of playing for Atletico appears, things come naturally to everyone, just like [Stefan] Savic when he arrived, and Koke. I don’t speak of names, but of the way of living the football that we have had for a long time.”

Even though Felix has been struggling, Atletico enter Thursday’s match in fine form having won their past four matches in all competitions. Yet, seeking a third Super Cup crown and first in six years, they have not beaten Barcelona in nine meetings.

“We know the rival’s virtues, as they have always had them,” Simeone said. “Their attacking play and players’ individual moves end up breaking any collective work of their opponent.

“We go into the game with good momentum, with things to improve. Playing against the best in the world makes you stronger because you have to turn on the alarms from the start and the team grows and improves.

“It will be different from the league games because there is a direct elimination and only one result, which is to win. We understand it as an opportunity to continue growing as a club and team and to make our fans excited.”

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Barcelona train in Jeddah ahead of Super Cup