Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has offered a withering assessment of Joao Felix’s complaints about his playing time, saying the forward is responsible for his lack of minutes so far this season.
The 22-year-old seemed to be finally delivering on his £113m transfer fee last season before his campaign was prematurely ended by injury. This season, however, he has struggled to make an impact and has played just 29 minutes over the last four matches.
Rumours have begun to circulate that Felix wants to leave Atleti in January, and has asked his agents to find him a move immediately.
Speaking to Marca ahead of his side’s game against Athletic Club, Simeone was dismissive of Felix’s complaints and insisted he would continue to start players on merit.
“I am going to be very clear in the same way in which I explained it to Joao. I want to win with Correa, with Joao, with Griezmann, with Cunha, with Morata.
“The only reality is that which is. In the year that we won La Liga, he had an incredible year until he got injured and he ended up playing.
“In the second season, in the ‘league of the 14’, he wasn’t playing, but he began to play against Osasuna, he did very well, he responded with goals, he gave everything for the team, which he has, and he played until he got injured.
“In the following season he had a good preseason, beyond his injury, with good games against Juventus and based on his good performances, he played.”
“And now, when his performance has gotten worse, other teammates play. Because I believe Joao is equal to Correa and everyone else. As soon as he returns to performing well in training, he works, he recovers his goalscoring, which we will need, he will play.
“But while I am here, it goes by performances. That is why other teammates are playing. It remains clear that every time he was good, he played.”
Atletico Madrid have performed below expectations so far this season and are six points adrift of Barcelona and Real Madrid in the title race.