Former Atletico Madrid striker David Villa has backed Joao Felix to be a success at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The Benfica youngster completed a mammoth €126 million (£113m/$141m) move to Spain off the back of impressive displays for the Portuguese outfit, where he scored an impressive 15 goals and laid on nine more in just 26 top-flight appearances last season.
Such a vast sum has been questioned over a relatively unproven player, but Villa has backed his former club’s judgement on the 19-year-old forward.
“With the amount that Atleti paid and how well they manage just issues, they would not have signed him without being sure of him,” the veteran forward told Goal. “I’ve not seen him play a lot, but the Atleti fans will be grateful for him if he works. You can fail, but if you leave everything on the pitch, people are happy.
“I only had one year with Atletico, and there were ups and downs, I scored 15 goals, we won the league, and the fans still thank me.”
Villa himself is now 37 and playing out his career with Vissel Kobe in Japan’s J-League. He is enjoying the experience and will not stop until his body tells him his time is up.
“People have commented on my retirement for years but I’m still going,” he said. “I’m proud to still be playing at this level at my age. I don’t think about the future so much because everything changes so much.
“I have a contract until December and then I’ll see what happens.
“This body is responding to me, so I’ll play. When a player retires, it’s because I’ll have a body that’s no longer going. But that’s not my case and I love this sport.”
Villa has enjoyed a storied career that has taken him around the globe, at his peak playing for many of the top clubs in Spain, including Valencia and Barcelona, before moving to New York City as he grew older.
He spent nearly five years in MLS, switching briefly to Melbourne City in Australia’s A-League on loan, before signing in Japan at the beginning of this year.
He counts a long list of honours, including one Champions League, won with Barca, as well as a European Championship and a World Cup with Spain.