Benfica president Luis Felipe Vieira has given a disarmingly frank assessment of the situation surrounding 19-year-old star Joao Felix this summer, admitting that he is almost certain to leave the club due to the financial pull of Europe's heavyweights.
Breaking into the Benfica first team just this season, the forward has scored 20 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions, earning himself seemingly concrete interest from both Manchester clubs, while Liverpool, Juventus and Barcelona have also been mentioned in connection to the Portugal star.
Such is his rise in stock that Benfica moved to double his €60m release clause in a bid to stave off interest. His meteoric improvement, however, means even that doesn't look as if it will stop him moving on, with Vieira admitting that their only chance of keeping hold of him for another season is if any potential new club is open to loaning him back to Portugal.
“We sit down with players and they say 'president, I can earn five million euros, president, do not make me stay here,'" Vieira said, as quoted by the Mirror.
“Joao Felix had a release clause of €60m and we realised after two or three games that we must increase it to €120m.
“But it is Joao Felix and his family who will decide if he stays. If someone bids €120m, it is not worth dreaming that he will stay.
Joao Felix scored three and assisted three for @SLBenfica last month as the Liga NOS leaders won all four games in April— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 1, 2019
With a WhoScored rating of 8.14, the teenage striker is our player of the month in Portugal
For more player stats -- https://t.co/Bu8FRGHQcU pic.twitter.com/uMb4ZbnU38
“We are trying everything to ensure he stays. But the only way is if we sell him and keep him another year. If not, Joao leaves. There is no room to negotiate further. He doesn't want to.
“How will Benfica negotiate with someone after he is given a proposal of €6m after tax?”
Felix himself has been tight-lipped on his potential departure, however, insisting last month that 'time will tell' where his future lies.
"I think that time will tell," he said.
"I am fine here, I am very happy. I love the club, I love the fans, I want to take advantage of the moment, play, to have fun doing what I like, and then over time things happen naturally. I'm very happy at Benfica."
Source : 90min