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Joao Felix can win the Ballon d'Or, says former Atletico Madrid man Simao

6:02 AM EDT 5/23/20
Joao Felix, Atletico Madrid
The 20-year-old has struggled to replicate his Benfica form since joining the Spanish capital side but his compatriot has backed him to be a success

Atletico Madrid star Joao Felix has been tipped to challenge for the Ballon d'Or by former winger Simao.

The 20-year-old joined the Spanish side from Benfica last summer and has gone on to make 28 appearances this season.

But the forward has struggled to replicate the goalscoring form that caught the attention of Europe’s top teams when he was with the Lisbon giants, where he netted 20 times in just 43 games.

Felix has struck just four times in La Liga and scored another two in the Champions League for Diego Simeone's team, while he has also struggled with injuries this term.

Despite his issues, ex-Atleti and Barcelona player Simao is confident he will become a success in the Spanish capital and establish himself as one of the best players in the world.

“I think he can get to the Ballon d'Or. He is in a phase of adjustment, it’s not easy,” Simao told BTV.

“Atletico's way of playing is different from that of Benfica and the first few months were not easy.

“I know that it bothers him to be substituted, but he has to think about the team having the opportunity to win.

“You have to be cool to attack in the Simeone team.”

Simao says he knows how the Portugal international feels mixing with high-profile players, as the 40-year-old made a similar jump when he joined Barcelona from Sporting in 1999.

"Pep Guardiola, Figo, Patrick Kluivert, Ronald de Boer... if we look at this team, almost all of them are coaches,” he said looking back at his Camp Nou team-mates.

“Playing with Figo, the great idol, was fantastic. It was the biggest difficulty for me. Being extreme, I thought: ‘Where am I going to play?’

“On the one side there was Figo, on the other Rivaldo, I had to wait for them to be suspended or tired. 

“It was a fantastic two years, I spent a lot of time with Rivaldo and had conversations with Guardiola. He already had a tactical sense, he took a role and told me how you should move without the ball.

“On the plane I sat in the middle of Figo and Guardiola and I already had football books, many about golf. I read a lot.

“I was 19 years old. I finished an exhausting workout and Rivaldo asked me to train with him, because he wanted more, I couldn't say no.”