Aston Villa have always been an ambitious club, but now with the deployment of Unai Emery in the dugout, the club’s gaze is cast beyond a return to the top half of the Premier League table and towards European nights under the lights.
An illustration of these aspirations comes in the shape of Joao Felix, with the Atletico Madrid offensive maestro subject to intense focus on his future across recent weeks, with tensions with Atletico boss Diego Simeone reportedly at boiling point.
Signed for the Spanish giants for an eye-watering £113m back in 2019 from boyhood club SL Benfica, Felix has been touted for a move to Villa Park with recent reports, via Sport Witness, suggesting the club are making a ‘huge effort’ to sign the Portuguese sensation next year.
Felix emerged onto the scene in Portugal and swiftly established himself as the country’s glittering young jewel; he scored a commendable 20 goals and served 11 assists from just 43 senior appearances with the prominent outfit.
It was this fiery entrance that left him touted across Europe, with Simeone’s Atletico indeed winning the race, however with just 33 goals from 129 outings for the Colchoneros, a departure might suit all parties.
The efforts that the ace made in Qatar, at the 2022 World Cup, were evidence that slotted into a more forward-minded, free-flowing side, and Felix, who was hailed as a “starlet” by Semra Hunter, might just flourish.
As per Sofascore, the 28-cap star recorded an average rating of 7.03, scoring a goal and registering two assists across his four outings for his nation, dazzling with slick passing and fluid transitional play.
At Villa, Felix could forge his path under Emery’s tutelage, adopting the talismanic role and becoming the focal point, the main channel of attack.
It is this level of responsibility that could bounce off both club and player, with the £43.9m-rated gem appearing something of a dream signing given his reputation and room for potential.
Despite his wayward success in front of goal, FBref highlights some excellent metrics that will bode well for him ahead of a prospective transfer; he ranks within the top 11% for progressive passes and 13% for dribbles completed when compared to forwards across Europe’s major leagues this past year.
Now worth a reported €100m (£88m), the signing for Villa Park would be immense, eclipsing anything the club has seen in a long time, and the success on the pitch would surely be soon to follow, with former coach Renato Paiva telling The Athletic that the ace would leave people “open-mouthed” with his effortless talent.
Despite only scoring four goals and three assists across 18 appearances this season, Felix has only started nine times, and given a platform to assume central standing, he will finally hit the ceiling that stands high above the ground.