Diego Simeone wishes Thomas Partey success at Arsenal despite the frustrating manner in which he left Atletico Madrid on deadline day.

The Gunners signed the Ghana international after activating his £45million (€50m) release clause during the final hours of the transfer window.

Atletico, who then brought in Arsenal's Lucas Torreira on loan, were reportedly upset with the way the fee for Thomas was deposited at close to midnight Spanish time and that the player was prepared to quit the club in such prompt fashion after eight years.

Simeone has seen stars including Rodri, Lucas Hernandez and Antoine Griezmann depart in recent years after their buy-out clauses were met and he insists he holds no grudges against the players themselves, even if the manner of the exits is something the club can do little to prevent.

"I keep thinking Lucas' exit was very important," Simeone told reporters on Friday. "He was a boy from the academy, with a lot of strength and a future, as we see with his national team, but we can't give many opinions against situations involving these clauses.

"Everything that happens to the boys who gave me a lot of things at the club makes me happy. Thomas is a boy I remember from when he played in the B team with Saul [Niguez].

"We started to bring him up, it took a lot out of him, he went to Almeria and it was difficult for him to find stability in the club.

"He's an incredible player and we wish him the best."

Simeone hopes to see Torreira make a significant impact, saying:  "I'm not going to talk about what we win or lose with Thomas because he's not here. What Lucas will be able to bring to the team is vitality, dynamism in the middle.

"He comes from a time when he was not playing and he does so with great excitement."

Atleti started the LaLiga season with a 6-1 victory over Granada but have followed that result with back-to-back goalless draws with Huesca and Villarreal.

Simeone has hinted he could start Luis Suarez, Diego Costa and Joao Felix together in a bid to get his side's attack firing again and says Portuguese forward Felix must endeavour to bring his international form to club level.

"Of course they can play together. Many of the players we have can play together. We'll see at what moment, what situation and in what state each one is," Simeone said.

"He [Felix] is a very important player for us. I saw the games he played with the national team and I liked his work.

"He has talent and he can appear at any moment, but what I saw with Portugal, where he showed commitment, intention, enthusiasm for what the team needed - that speaks highly of him and it's what we also need from him."

Joao Felix has once again started the season positively and Diego Simeone hopes the Atletico Madrid forward can maintain his form this time around.

After his €126million arrival from Benfica, Joao Felix contributed two goals and an assist in his first six LaLiga games for Atletico in 2019-20 but the remainder of his campaign was punctuated by injuries that made it difficult for him to consistently produce.

Atleti started this season by thrashing Granada 6-1, with the Portugal international winning a penalty, assisting a goal for Angel Correa and scoring one of his own in an impressive display.

Although Simeone's side were held to a goalless draw by newly promoted Huesca in midweek, Joao Felix had six attempts on goal and created two chances for his team-mates.

The Atleti boss hopes to see more of the same from Joao Felix when his team entertain Villarreal at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

"Last season, in the pre-season, he had the same enthusiasm and joy in the game that he's showing now," Simeone said in a news conference on Friday.

"In the first four or five games, until he suffered the injury, he made a very good start to the season.

"Let's hope he can maintain it, keep growing with the team and we can continue to benefit from a player in whom we have a lot of hope."

Atleti only lost four times in LaLiga last season but drew 16 games as they finished third, 17 points adrift of champions Real Madrid.

Simeone expects his team to improve this term but refuses to take his eyes off the task at hand and focus on long-term goals.

"It is an important season because the players have grown compared to the previous season," he said.

"We will not move away from going game by game… what counts is the game against Villarreal.

"We will face a great team with great footballers who will compete to be among the top positions in the league."

Luis Suarez revealed he felt the need for "fresh air" before leaving Barcelona as he scored twice in a remarkable debut for Atletico Madrid.

Suarez came on in the 70th minute at Wanda Metropolitano with Atleti 3-0 up against Granada thanks to goals from Diego Costa, Angel Correa and Joao Felix, while Saul Niguez had missed a penalty.

A stunning cameo followed, with Suarez netting a brilliant double after providing an assist for his fellow substitute Marcos Llorente.

The 33-year-old was deemed surplus to requirements at Barcelona as the Catalan club look to rebuild under Ronald Koeman, but Suarez believes the time was right for him to move on.

"Very good, very happy for the debut, for the three points," he told Movistar. "When you make your debut and help the team with goals, you are always happy.

"It is a moment in which I needed fresh air, it is important to change and accept it.

"I come to a club that has given me a spectacular welcome, the atmosphere is very good from the beginning and that is reflected on the field."

Before Suarez stole the show, Joao Felix had put in an impressive display partnering Costa up front, having teed up Correa's goal prior to getting on the scoresheet himself.

"We're feeling good about ourselves. We've completed a great game, scoring many goals and creating lots of chances," he told Atleti's club media.

"We have to continue like this. I'm feeling good. I'm happy and enjoying myself. Things are going well.

"This was just the first game, but we want to complete a very, very good season. We're working towards that. We started today and have to continue against Huesca."

 

Anthony Joshua has made the move from boxing to football, at least in the virtual world, after it was confirmed he will appear in FIFA 21.

Joshua will be a playable character in the video game's "Volta" mode – in which players are able to test their skills in a small-sided game with five-a-side rules.

Olympic gold medallist and world heavyweight champion Joshua is being introduced as a "Groundbreaker", alongside Kaka, Eric Cantona, Thierry Henry, Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, Atletico Madrid youngster Joao Felix and FIFA 21 cover star Kylian Mbappe.

Diplo, a three-time Grammy Award-winning DJ and producer, also features.

Players will be able to pit their wits against the Groundbreakers, while also being able to recruit them into their squads.

Jadon Sancho has been tipped to swap Borussia Dortmund for Manchester United.

But the England international remains in Germany and United are growing frustrated.

Could United move on from the Dortmund sensation?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED READY TO PULL PLUG ON SANCHO

Manchester United are ready to give up on signing Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to the Daily Star.

Sancho has emerged as United's top transfer target, but the Premier League giants have been unable to negotiate a deal with Dortmund.

With United and Dortmund apart in their valuation of Sancho, the Red Devils are frustrated and could turn to alternative targets.

Juventus attacker Douglas Costa, Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix and Real Madrid outcast Gareth Bale are possible options.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca claims Barcelona are contemplating a loan move for Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, who left Camp Nou for the Gunners in 2011. Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked, while Barca will only target the Spaniard if they are able to part with Nelson Semedo.

- Staying at Camp Nou and Barca are targeting Sevilla's star centre-back Jules Kounde. The front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo says Barca could wait 12 months to secure a deal. Mundo Deportivo also reports Emerson could be included in a deal to prise Lyon captain Memphis Depay to the embattled LaLiga giants.

Tottenham have had an offer for Torino striker Andrea Belotti rejected, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Spurs proposed a loan deal with an option to buy the Italy international for €50million (£46m). Di Marzio also claims Tottenham will not be signing Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik, who has been linked to Roma and Juventus.

Chelsea are ready to loan out winger Calum Hudson-Odoi, says 90Min. The Englishman has previously been linked to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

- Remaining at Stamford Bridge and Fabrizio Romano reports Chelsea will consider a move for West Ham's Declan Rice after having a bid accepted for Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

Inter are ready to sell defender Milan Skriniar as they eye Hellas Verona's Marash Kumbulla, according to Calciomercato. It comes as Nerazzurri boss Antonio Conte tries to sign Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante and full-back Marcos Alonso.

Manchester City appear favourites to sign Lionel Messi, should he leave Barcelona.

Messi has sensationally handed in a transfer request at Camp Nou.

City are reportedly stepping up their chase as Pep Guardiola looks to reunite with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

TOP STORY – CITY PREPARE MEGA OFFER FOR MESSI

Manchester City are ready to offer £89million (€100m) plus Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Eric Garcia for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Sport.

Messi wants to end his association with embattled LaLiga giants Barca amid links to City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

The Guardian also claims City are convinced they have a chance of signing the superstar captain.

ROUND-UP

- Goal says Barca forward Luis Suarez has been offered to Juventus as the Serie A champions consider a move. Suarez has reportedly been told he is not part of Ronald Koeman's plans.

Barca offered Antoine Griezmann to former club Atletico Madrid in exchange for Joao Felix, reports Marca.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Milan have made a new bid to sign Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali. The Italy midfielder has been linked to Inter, though the Nerazzurri are yet to reach any agreement with Brescia as they eye Barca's Arturo Vidal.

Inter, meanwhile, have opened talks with Roma to sign veteran full-back Aleksandar Kolarov, according to Fabrizio Romano. Chelsea's Emerson Palmieri has also been targeted but Inter are refusing to meet their demands.

- The Mirror claims Tottenham are weighing up a move for Atletico striker Diego Costa. Jose Mourinho worked with Costa during the pair's time together at Chelsea. Sky Sport Italia also reports Spurs have had a request for Nicolo Zaniolo rejected by Roma.

City remain in talks to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, says Romano. Negotiations are taking place indirectly following the fallout from Jorginho's switch to Chelsea in 2018, having been set for City.

- Bayern Munich veteran Javi Martinez has turned down a move to Fiorentina as he is close to joining David Silva at Real Sociedad, says La Razon.

- Liverpool star Sadio Mane has been offered to Barca amid uncertainty over Messi's future, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

Joao Felix hopes to emulate Antoine Griezmann's rise under the stewardship of Diego Simeone, whose style of football the Portugal star insists he has no problem with at Atletico Madrid.

Atleti stumped up €126million to sign the prodigious forward from Benfica after Griezmann departed for Barcelona, beating several suitors across European football to his signature.

It has been a hit-and-miss debut campaign for Joao Felix, who has so far scored eight goals and provided three assists in 35 appearances across all competitions.

Inconsistent form and injuries mixed with flashes of brilliance have been the story of his season, but the 20-year-old still harbours ambitions of becoming a star at Atleti like Griezmann before him.

"If I can do what Griezmann has done or improve it, it will be fine because he has made history in this club," Joao Felix told Marca. 

"He has done it very well, he has grown a lot with El Cholo [Simeone], and if I do it the same, better for me."

Some pundits have suggested that Joao Felix's attacking nature is at odds with the rigid nature of Simeone's coaching style.

Simeone has maintained Joao Felix will show his best form once he has fully adapted to LaLiga, though, which the Portugal international agrees with.

"Many people say one thing, others say another, but I am here to play Cholo football and I do what he asks," he added.

"Let's see. I'm adapting to Spain, doing my football, I'm meeting the club and always thinking of improving."

Joao Felix's situation has been likened to that of Sergio Aguero, who scored just six LaLiga goals in 38 appearances in his debut campaign at Atleti before becoming a fan favourite and earning a move to Manchester City.

"Kun is now a great player, but when he was at Atletico, I was five years old and I don't remember anything," Joao Felix, who overtook Aguero as the youngest Champions League goalscorer in Atleti history, said of such a comparison. 

"It's good to break records, all the players like to make history and of course I'm happy to be part of Atletico's history and to have surpassed a player like Kun." 

As for the criticisms, Joao Felix says the comments of others do not affect him.

"No, you [the media] do your job and I try to do mine, if things don't go the way you like it, I don't care," he said.

"As I said, I play because I like it and I am not worried about what the press or others think.

"I try not to see [the criticism], but there are some that I hear or come to me, but what am I going to do? Listen and follow my work."

There is high interest in Joao Felix this week as he returns home with Atleti to complete a Champions League campaign disrupted by coronavirus with the tournament being finished in a one-match knockout format in Lisbon.

Atleti face RB Leipzig in the quarter-finals on Thursday and Joao Felix is excited to be playing on home soil.

"Yes, the Champions League is always the high point of any player and even more so playing it here in Lisbon, at home, I am very happy and it is very good for me," he said.

Jan Oblak is an Atletico Madrid player "period" and the best is still to come from Joao Felix, says Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo. 

The future of Oblak has been the subject of speculation with Premier League clubs Manchester United and Chelsea linked with a big-money move for the goalkeeper. 

Chelsea have already splashed out to sign Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, while Kai Havertz is rumoured to be close to joining too.  

The Blues are said to be looking for a new goalkeeper after a disappointing campaign for Kepa Arrizabalaga, while David de Gea's own form at United has come under increased scrutiny. 

Oblak, who saw his four-season stranglehold on the Zamora Trophy - awarded to the best goalkeeper in LaLiga - ended by Thibaut Courtois, has proven himself as one of the best in the world over six years at Atleti. 

Cerezo is adamant the Slovenia international will stay at the Wanda Metropolitano, even when it was pointed out he once made similar assurances about Antoine Griezmann, who moved to Barcelona.

"I always say that Oblak has a contract with Atletico and is the best goalkeeper in the world. It is not strange that he has offers from other great teams," he told Marca. 

"I say the same as always. Oblak has a contract, he is an Atletico player, period. We have many players, our squad is the club's main asset. Oblak is a magnificent player and in his position, unquestionably, there is no one to beat him right now. 

"For me, Oblak - and I speak as an amateur - is the best goalkeeper in the world. Regarding Courtois, he is another great goalkeeper of those in the world and fortunately, both have played for us and with both we have been champions in many trophies." 

Cerezo also discussed the debut campaign of Joao Felix, who arrived in a €126million deal from Benfica last July as a replacement for Griezmann. 

The Portugal forward was one of the most sought-after prospects in world football but scored just six goals and contributed one assist in 27 LaLiga appearances. 

Cerezo remains convinced the 20-year-old will achieve his undoubted promise and believes Joao Felix will particularly relish competing in the delayed Champions League, which will be played as a straight knockout tournament in Lisbon from the quarter-final stage. 

"It was not easy for him because it was the first season, he came with wonderful expectations and I think he has really met it," Cerezo added.  

"We are all happy with Joao Felix's performance. I think for next season it will not be a promise, it will be a fact. I hope that in these Champions League games, it really highlights how great a footballer he is. 

"I think he is very excited and happy that it will be played in Lisbon. You have to think that he is 20 years old, he is a player with a promising future and that we are indisputably proud to have signed him."

Diego Simeone's men will be expected to overcome RB Leipzig in the last eight but Cerezo, who saw Atleti defeat holders Liverpool in the previous round, warned there is no "logic" in football. 

"According to what they say, the one that beats the European champion is the champion and we have eliminated them. Logically, we should be champions," Cerezo said. 

"Everyone is happy with Leipzig, I think it has been a good result of the tournament and we can undoubtedly be in the semi-finals, but from what I say to what happens there is a difference either for or against.  

"I think by logic we have to be there, but who has logic in football?" 

Joao Felix was included in Atletico Madrid's matchday squad for their final LaLiga clash of the season with Real Sociedad after recovering from an ankle injury.

The Portugal forward came off in the 54th minute of Atleti's 3-0 victory over Real Mallorca this month and tests revealed he had suffered "a traumatic bone edema in the ankle".

He missed the draw at Celta Vigo and wins over Real Betis and Getafe, but the 20-year-old may now feature against Sociedad at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday.

A brief Atleti statement read: "Joao Felix has received the medical green light and is fit to face Real Sociedad in the last LaLiga fixture.

"Our forward has recovered from his traumatic bone edema in the ankle and is at [Diego] Simeone's disposal for Sunday's match at the Wanda Metropolitano."

It provides a timely boost for Atleti, who are aiming to guarantee a third-place finish in LaLiga, ahead of the resumption of their Champions League campaign next month, where they face RB Leipzig in the quarter-finals.

All matches from the last eight onwards will take place in Lisbon as a straight knockout tournament.

Joao Felix arrived from Benfica in a €126million deal last year but has not always hit the heights in his debut campaign, scoring eight goals and supplying three assists in 34 appearances in all competitions.

Real Madrid get more penalties than other teams because they attack more, according to Atletico Madrid boss Simeone.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu have suggested Madrid, who sit four points clear of the Catalan giants at the top of LaLiga, are benefiting from favourable decisions from referees.

Zinedine Zidane said has was "tired" of hearing such comments after his side beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Sunday, the second straight game they have won courtesy of a Sergio Ramos penalty, which was awarded after a VAR review spotted Dani Garcia's trip on Marcelo.

Iker Muniain was critical of the officials after the match because Athletic did not receive a spot-kick for Ramos appearing to step on Raul Garcia's foot off the ball or for another incident involving the Madrid captain and Dani Garcia.

Madrid have been awarded nine penalties in LaLiga this season – only Athletic and Real Mallorca have earned more (10 each) – and Simeone thinks it is natural for a team that plays on the front foot to get such decisions.

"VAR exposes everything. Before we didn't have the possibility of seeing some things that we now see. The referees are people who can be wrong as well," Simeone told a news conference.

"It is fairer. If they give you more penalties, it's because you are in the opposition's area more. If they attack more, like Real Madrid, it means you are there longer.

"In the speed of the game it's difficult to see what happens, but now another referee sees it with calmness on television. People too, from their homes.

"Then there is a person who decides, which is the VAR. It can hurt you or help you, but now we are all clear on if its offside, if it's a penalty… we are all more exposed."

Atleti face Celta Vigo on Tuesday and will be without Joao Felix due to an ankle injury.

Joao Felix has scored eight goals and supplied three assists in 34 appearances in all competitions since joining from Benfica for €126million last year.

Simeone intends to remain patient with the 20-year-old Portugal international when he is available for action again.

"Joao is in his first year at Atletico. I am not surprised by anything that is happening to him," said the Atleti boss.

"He has to be patient and not disengage. The anger he has because of what he wants to show, because of his qualities, sometimes costs him.

"Few footballers at 20 or 21 are the finished article. He has undoubted talent. He's a humble, respectful boy who gets along with everybody."

Joao Felix has been ruled out of Atletico Madrid's LaLiga game against Celta Vigo on Tuesday due to an ankle injury.

Portugal forward Joao Felix was substituted in the 54th minute of Atletico's 3-0 victory over Real Mallorca on Friday

Tests carried out on Sunday revealed the 20-year-old has suffered "a traumatic bone edema in the ankle", the club said in a statement on Monday.

Although it was confirmed Joao Felix will miss the trip to Balaidos to face Celta, Atleti did not provide a time frame for his recovery.

Joao Felix has struggled to live up to expectations in his first season with Atleti, who shelled out €126million to sign him from Benfica last year.

He has scored eight goals and supplied three assists in 34 appearances in all competitions.

The attacker has already missed 10 games due to two separate injuries this term and one more through suspension.

Diego Simeone backed Joao Felix despite substituting the attacker again in Atletico Madrid's 3-0 win over Real Mallorca in LaLiga on Friday.

Joao Felix was replaced early in the second half at the Wanda Metropolitano, where Alvaro Morata scored a brace before Koke's sealer.

A reported €126million signing from Benfica last year, the Portugal international has been substituted in 17 of his 21 LaLiga starts.

But Atletico coach Simeone backed the 20-year-old and said he had full confidence in the attacker.

"We are absolutely confident in his quality, his talent and the way he plays and we need him to reproduce on the field," he told a news conference, via AS.

"We focus on the goal of the team and the club, we do not stop at individualities. On the basis of promoting individualities, we seek to improve the collective. If we stop at the singles it would be dangerous.

"Joao started well against Osasuna, he had good games, [against Mallorca] he was not as fine in his game and he understood that the team needed other characteristics as with Vitolo, who worked for what the team needed."

In 34 appearances in all competitions this season, Joao Felix has scored eight goals and provided three assists.

Simeone, whose side consolidated third place in the table, said his message to younger players was simple.

"I always try to convey to the young people who come here that this is a competitive team, that they have to win," he said.

"And we work as a consequence of looking for the best to win, we have no commitment to anyone, only that things go towards where we understand that it is better."

Atletico are in action again on Tuesday when they visit Celta Vigo.

Antoine Griezmann was named on the bench for Barcelona's LaLiga meeting with Atletico Madrid, for whom Joao Felix was left out of the starting line-up.

Quique Setien selected just two regular attackers for the visit of Atleti to Camp Nou on Tuesday, with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez joining forces in attack as the reigning champions looked to regain top spot from Real Madrid.

Former Atleti forward Griezmann was joined on the bench by Ansu Fati, who was handed a starting berth in the 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo at the weekend.

Holding midfielder Sergio Busquets took the place of Fati following his return from suspension, with the only other change seeing Clement Lenglet replace Samuel Umtiti.

Diego Simeone made five alterations to the team that started a 2-1 win over Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata dropped to the bench, while Koke missed out through suspension. Diego Costa, Marcos Llorente and Yannick Carrasco were drafted into the line-up in their places.

Santiago Arias and Felipe were named in defence, with Kieran Trippier on the bench and Stefan Savic absent due to a ban.

Joao Felix is perhaps feeling the pressure of the "economic impact" from his move to Atletico Madrid but he can emulate Antoine Griezmann in becoming a star for Diego Simeone's side, says Abel Xavier.

The Portugal sensation was one of the most sought-after players of the previous close season prior to joining Atleti, who paid €126million to Benfica for his signature.

There have been flashes of the brilliance that saw Atleti stump up that huge sum, though six goals and a solitary assist from 24 LaLiga appearances - prior to Tuesday's clash with Barcelona - is hardly the most fruitful return.

Former Portugal international Xavier is convinced Joao Felix will adapt to life at the Wanda Metropolitano, though, and is sure it remains the right environment for the 20-year-old to flourish.

"There is a great hope on Felix because of his move to Atletico [but] the economic impact of his value is giving him too much pressure," Xavier told Stats Perform News.

"He needs to find the correct surrounding to be able to realise the potential of his own game. 

"That is going to be the next step with him, especially at Atletico Madrid with their philosophy and style of play.

"I admire Simeone a lot. There are a lot of people who do not like the identity of his game because he's very effective. At the end of the day he's fighting for the big trophies.

"But when you are integrating a big player, a fantasy player, a player who likes to have the ball…it's a process also for Felix to work on different aspects of the game.

"Maybe he was not used to defending so much without the ball. He needs to have the ball.

"For that reason I think it's a good process that will build him in different aspects to become stronger.  

"He's going to be one of the greatest in the future, for sure, with the correct set-up and style of play collectively."

Some pundits have questioned whether Joao Felix was right to move to Atleti and his name was linked tentatively with Manchester United during the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

Xavier doubts anyone would pay more for his services than Atleti did, though, and said Joao Felix can become key for Simeone, just as Griezmann did for five seasons before joining Barcelona last year.

"It's very difficult at this present moment that someone can come and pay more than what Atletico paid for him," Xavier said. 

"He needs right now to be focused on his game. He's had a few injuries also, which is not a good sign. He needs to find stability and consistency. 

"Atletico right now is the best place for him. Stay two or three years and be the main figure in the same way that Antoine Griezmann was."

Diego Simeone believes Atletico Madrid's defensive resilience is merely a by-product of the players' commitment to his footballing vision.

Atleti edged a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid on Saturday, the first time they have recorded back-to-back LaLiga victories since beating Real Betis and Levante either side of the mid-season break.

A return encounter against the latter opponents is up next for Los Colchoneros, whose previous away fixture ended in a 5-0 shellacking of Osasuna.

The departures of Diego Godin and Lucas Hernandez last year forced Simeone to remodel his backline, with Stefan Savic and Jose Gimenez stepping up to form a fine alliance at centre-back, while Kieran Trippier and Renan Lodi have proved shrewd full-back additions.

Backed up by the exceptional Jan Oblak between the posts, Atletico have only been breached 22 times in 30 LaLiga games in 2019-20, although Simeone insists he is reluctant to rely too much on this obduracy.

"There will always be mistakes, all teams make mistakes," he told a pre-match news conference.

"We must try to be focused and, with the best security we can offer the team, we have rotated.

"I am still convinced that the team's strength is the emotional convention of the group. This will be the way to reach the goals we want."

That goal, at least until August's mini-tournament in Lisbon to conclude this season's competition comes around, is securing qualification for the Champions League with a top-four finish.

The weekend result left Atleti in third, level on points with Sevilla immediately behind them and six better off than Valencia down in eighth.

More sparkling form from Joao Felix would certainly strengthen their hand after the Portugal youngster notched a brace as Osasuna were torn apart.

"He is a different player," Simeone said of the €120million recruit, who has endured a mixed debut campaign in LaLiga.

"We have always valued him, we have seen him in training and in games. Surely, when he grows up and can spend more time in situations that are decisive for the team, he will continue to evolve.

"He has all the important qualities to break a game. With his growth in the game he will grow even more as a footballer."

Experience is certainly not something Joao Felix's boss lacks.

If Atleti are victorious against Levante, Simone will equal Luis Aragones as the coach with the most LaLiga victories for the club.

"I did not know about this and, as I have already said, I do not stop on the path we are going through," he added.

"This is not the time to stop and look in the mirror; it is only time to work, win and continue in the best possible way."

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