Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak affirmed he is delighted to see Joao Felix make an instant impression at the club, and tipped the youngster to become a “magnificent” player in years to come.
The 19-year-old forward joined Diego Simeone’s Atletico from Benfica in a €126 million (£117m/$141m) move last month as a projected long-term replacement for Antoine Griezmann following the Frenchman’s exit to Barcelona.
A string of brilliant displays in pre-season have raised hopes that he will go on to be a great asset for the club in his debut campaign.
Joao Felix scored against Real Madrid in a crushing 7-3 defeat of Atletico’s city rivals and also netted in victories over the MLS All-Stars and Juventus as Diego Simeone’s men looked almost flawless ahead of the start of the season.
And while Oblak warned that these early displays do not guarantee success, he believes that the teenager can go from strength to strength with Simeone as his mentor.
“We’re still in pre-season but it’s clear that he’s a huge talent. With talent like that he can grow to be a magnificent player,” the Slovenia international explained to La Liga.
“I’m sure that this is the right place for him. He’s going to progress a lot under Diego Simeone and he’ll learn a lot.
“There’s no doubt that he’s a great talent and if he continues as he’s started, if he trains hard and keeps playing at the level he’s shown he’ll be a world-class player, no doubt.“
Having finished second to Barcelona in the 2018-19 Liga campaign, Oblak also affirmed that a new-look Atletico side go into the new term confident that they have the ability to fight for silverware.
“A lot of new players have arrived and some players who did great things for the club over many years have left. Our new teammates have come in with a lot of enthusiasm and dreams of achieving great things here,” he added. All of us that are here, including the new guys, will do all we can to achieve our goals this season.
“Obviously, we need time to get to know each other but the early signs are really good. They’re players with a lot of quality, the quality you need to be here. They look really sharp and keen in training, really willing to learn, to see what the coach wants from them. That’s the way to build a strong team, a solid team like we’ve always had. I’m sure we’ll go far this season.
“Our primary focus is preparing well for the new season. After that we go one game at a time, not thinking too far into the future. You just don’t know what surprises the season will throw up. We need to think about one training session at a time, one game at a time. I think we can achieve great things. We all want to win titles and that’s hopefully what we’ll do.
There were also warm words for Simeone, who enters his ninth season at the Colchonero helm; a tenure that makes him Atletico’s second longest-serving coach in history behind Luis Aragones, who spent a total of 15 years at the club over four different spells on the bench.
“Not many clubs in the modern age have been able to build such a long-term project with a single manager like we have,” Oblak stated.
“It’s a really good thing; the manager knows the club inside out, the fans love him and he’ll transfer his style to the new players.
“It’s a challenge for him but he’s one of the best coaches in the world and he’ll continue to achieve great things, just like every year. The most important thing is to integrate the new players as quickly as possible.“
Atletico kick off their Liga campaign on Sunday, when they host Getafe at the Wanda Metropolitana.