Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix has confessed he hopes to use the success of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe as inspiration to improve his own game.
Haaland and Mbappe, 20 and 22 respectively, are already widely accepted to be two of the best footballers on the planet, and recent performances in the Champions League have seen the pair billed as the heirs to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's thrones in world football.
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That narrative has forgotten about Felix, who cost Atletico no less than £113m in 2019, and he confessed to The Telegraph that he hopes to make the race for future Ballons d'Or more of a three-way chase.
“Cristiano and Messi reached a level that no other player reached, so I hope I can reach it,” said Felix. “Mbappe and Haaland are in a good position to do it and if I reach that level too, then it will be very good for me. When you see players that are a similar age, we want to do the same, we want to show the people that we can do that too.
“They [Mbappe and Haaland] are more strikers. Mbappe is more like Cristiano, going from the wing to the middle and I think I’m a little back from them like a second striker. I would love to play with them one day and I hope they would like to play with me too.”
Mbappe and Haaland aren't the only two youngsters who have caught Felix's eye. The 21-year-old admitted that former teammate Chris Willock previously compared him to Chelsea's Mason Mount, for whom Felix has kept a close eye on ever since.
“I played with Chris Willock in Benfica three or four years ago and he told me that Chelsea has a guy that he sees who is similar to me and he told me it was Mason Mount,” he said.
“Then, a few years later, he appeared in Chelsea and sometimes I see him and I like the way he plays, I like the way he touches the ball. Chris had told me about him before he appeared in the Premier League, so I was waiting to see him.”
Felix will get up close and personal with Mount on Tuesday when the two sides clash in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, which has been moved from Madrid to Bucharest due to COVID-19.