João Félix will be hard-pressed to find a better environment to thrive than the one that FC Barcelona has created for him. With a president who adores him, a coach who has given him every opportunity in the world, and a fan base that has welcomed him with open arms. But the Portuguese player is on the verge of not taking advantage of this new opportunity in his career. He is back under suspicion.
On Wednesday, in the match against Almería, Xavi ran out of patience with the team and especially with João for the first time in these months. The coach’s frustration with the team was very clear in his post-match press conference, in which he made it clear that “this is not the best Barça in history, we have to work, and the first half was unacceptable.”
But to understand his mood with João, you didn’t need to wait until the end of the match. Xavi substituted him at halftime after giving him a vote of confidence that the Atlético Madrid loanee probably didn’t deserve. That things are starting to go wrong with João began to be sensed at Mestalla last weekend, when the Portuguese scored the goal that put Barcelona ahead against Valencia and didn’t even celebrate the goal. He had come off the bench in Antwerp, where he was subbed on in the second half and barely touched the ball.
João Félix knows he is protected by the president, who has repeatedly stated, as has Deco, the club’s sporting director, that the Catalan club’s intention is to sign the loanee permanently. A bet that is too premature given what we are seeing. It is true that João Félix has had good performances with Barcelona so far, especially on the day he faced his team, Atlético Madrid, but it is also true that his reputation for inconsistency has followed him in his Barça era.
When most of the press and fans were calling for Ferran Torres to start against Almería, in accordance with the meritocracy that the coach proclaims, Xavi decided to give João another chance… and the attacking midfielder missed it again. Xavi took him off the pitch at halftime, fed up with him being invisible in the game against the worst team in the league. In his place came Ferran Torres, who in three minutes did more than João Félix did in the entire first half. It’s not that the Valencian is particularly sharp in front of goal, but the Barcelona public values his work and intensity in every ball.
João arrived at Barcelona as an obsession of President Laporta and that, along with his performance in the first few games he played, augured a happy future for the Blaugrana, but in the long run, behaviors already common in other teams are being reproduced and João is back under suspicion.