Mon 15 Apr by Nick Said
While there is no real sign that Cristiano Ronaldo’s career is slowing down, it appears as though the 34-year-old’s successor has already been anointed as a host of Europe’s elite clubs chase teenager Joao Felix.This Portuguese youngster has been sensational for Benfica this campaign, with his hat-trick in the UEFA Europe League quarterfinals against Eintracht Frankfurt last week making him the youngest ever to net three goals in a single game in the competition.
Benfica have slapped a £105-million release clause in the 19-year-old’s contract, with Manchester United said to be leading the chase for his signature, which would mirror the move for Ronaldo to the Red Devils from Sporting Lisbon in 2003.Revered former United coach Jose Mourinho has already said that Felix “can play for any team in the world”, while the youngster himself has suggested he would prefer to go to Spain over England.“My dream has always been to play for the biggest clubs in Europe,” Felix said last month. “Spain or England? I would prefer to play in Spain.”Felix was released by the FC Porto academy in 2014 after being told that he was too small to ever be a professional player, something that will prove a massively expensive mistake by his former team when he does eventually move on.Born in Viseu, he can play anywhere across the forward line and has 15 goals in 25 starts in all competitions this season since making his debut in August, growing in influence for the team as the campaign has gone on.He had been campaigning in the previous two seasons for Benfica B in the second-tier, and was already a junior international for his country before this season started.The comparisons with Ronaldo became inevitable as the players are likened for pace, goal scoring ability and creativity, and aside from all of the so-called ‘big’ English clubs, Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have all sent scouts to watch him this season. “He is one of the best products to have emerged from Portuguese football since Cristiano Ronaldo,” Benfica president Filipe Vieira said.“At this moment we are not interested in selling him and soon we will increase the release clause in his contract. Joao has an incredible technique, he is fast and also very intelligent. He is a good person, he shows that he has important values that make me very proud."