​Just as it looked as though Joao Felix might have been getting out, Benfica have pulled him back in, as the Lisbon club have released a statement rubbishing speculation suggesting that Atletico Madrid were close to signing the prodigious talent. 

The 19-year-old is one of the most highly sought-after talents in Europe at present, after a stellar breakthrough season saw him score 20 goals in 43 appearances for the eventual Liga NOS champions. 

Manchester United and City have been among the clubs most heavily linked with his signature, but looked to have been dealt a serious blow when reports emerged claiming that Atletico Madrid had reached an agreement over the player, and were as far along in negotiations as ​preparing to announce his signing

The club, however, have come out strong on the speculation, categorically denying that negotiations are ongoing, while insisting that they will hold out for his €120m release clause.

​statement on Benfica's website reads:  "In view of the set of news published in the last few hours, SL Benfica clarifies that it is false that any negotiation process is currently under way regarding the possible transfer of player João Félix.


"The conditions for its negotiation are public and known, taking into account the termination clause defined in the amount of €120m."

Interestingly, the club went on, focusing in on one specific report from Portuguese newspaper ​A Bola, who claimed that the player's agent, Jorge Mendes - the super-agent known in the UK for his involvement with Wolves - was to receive as much as 30% of the fee.

The statement continues: "More serious, and that deserves our most vehement repudiation and denial, is the false news that refers to negotiations that involve commissions of 30% and which, unfortunately, was echoed in Portugal by the newspaper A Bola, with intentions and goals that we do not know at all. 


"We repeat: this information is totally false, absurd and has clearly intentional intentions for the reputation and dignity of SL Benfica."

It seems, then, that both United and City could live to fight another day in their pursuit in the player.