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Three goals and one assist for João Félix on the biggest night of his career against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-finals. The 19 year old took to the field with maturity, aplomb and a level of quality that no one could get near.
Along with Félix’s star performance in Lisbon, Rúben Dias was the other Benfica player on the scoresheet to put the tie firmly in the Portuguese club’s favour. In these two players, who are both 21 and under, Benfica have a pair of aces that are going to cost a fortune for any prospective club.
It seems remarkable that this is Félix’s breakthrough season at Benfica given the confidence and quality he has consistently produced throughout. The Portugal youth international made his debut in August against Boavista, coming off the bench for three minutes.
Since then, however, he is yet to look back. A few injury problems here and there caused some time on the bench – as well as bedding into Bruno Lage’s side – but since the turn of the year, Félix has risen tenfold.
The Benfica winger has eight Primeira Liga goals in 13 matches and 10 goals to his name in his debut season. The stats standout, added to his six assists in all competitions, but it is his movement, flair, composure and ability to create something from nothing that has so many clubs in Europe drooling over him.
There are over 35 scout members at Benfica's stadium tonight to watch Joao Felix, who scored a hat-trick in the Europa League at the age of 19. Scouts from Man United, Man City, PSG, Real Madrid and Liverpool are all present.
— 360Sources (@360Sources) April 11, 2019
After his three goals and one assist in Benfica’s 4-2 rout against the Germans, there is no doubt about Félix’s future. He is, quite simply, destined for the top. As a 19 year old, he has already shown that he can handle the big, European nights and provide reliability in his performances.
Whether he plays out wide or just tucked in behind the centre forward, Félix is relentless in trying to isolate his defender and work his way into space. At so many times this season, he has drifted inside, then out, and then in again, dizzying the defence in front of him and working a position to shoot – just as he did against Frankfurt.
There will be a mass of clubs queuing up for Félix’s signature, but the transfer fee will have to eclipse £100 million.
While Félix is the maestro of this talented Benfica side and the one that is going to command an eye-watering fee, Dias will not be far behind in the finances department.
At 21-years-old, the Portugal international has climbed the ladder of European football and shown why he is a force to be reckoned with. Average three tackles per-game, there is very little that ever gets past Dias due to his pinpoint position throughout.
As with most modern defenders now, they are encouraged to play out from the back and are expected to have the technical ability to do so. A lot fall by the wayside in this department, but Dias is one of those than can launch a perfect diagonal to the wide forward and kickstart an attack.
Manchester United have reportedly suffered a transfer blow after being told that Benfica youngster Ruben Dias intends to join Atletico Madrid instead. (AS)
— TeamRumorsTransfers 24/7 🗞 ⚽ (@rumorstransfers) April 3, 2019
Although his frame is still rather slender, Dias’ strength on the ball when shielding it away from forwards running down his channel is superb. It is no surprise to see him tipped as the next Benfica captain, should he remain at the club.
With 48 appearances* to his name in all competitions, clubs around Europe will be fully aware of his endurance and longevity to keep up his standards all season long. There has rarely been a time where his performances have dropped noticeably or a lack of concentration has forsaken him.
Dias, like Félix, is one of this generation’s bright stars that has a lot of attention on him. Benfica, however, are in no rush to sell and will receive an absolute fortune for the pair.