S.L. Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira has dealt a blow to Europe’s biggest clubs by insisting that academy players like João Félix will not leave the club unless their release clauses are met.
Their 19-year-old forward Félix, as well as a handful of other players in their academy, is attracting interest from the likes of Juventus, Manchester United, Arsenal and even Wolves ahead of the summer transfer window.
But club president Vieira is attempting to ward off interest in their best players by insisting Benfica are not looking to make a quick buck and will not accept any offer lower than their release clauses.
“Players who came through the academy and are now in the first team will only leave if their release clauses are met,” Vieira told Jornal O Benfica. “We want them to be our future.
“It’s the only weapon we have in our fight to bring back the balance between ourselves and the richest European clubs.”
There is a huge emphasis on youth development in Portugal, with Lisbon based rivals Benfica and Sporting CP always going toe-to-toe with each other to see who can sign the best youngsters.
In recent years Sporting have had the edge, but the emergence of Félix as well as a handful of other players at the Estádio da Luz has seen the pendulum swing in Benfica’s favour.
Félix has only ever made 27 appearances with Benfica since breaking into their first team, but his tally of 10 goals and six assists this season has caught the attention of the biggest clubs on the continent.
Most recently, officials from both Juventus and Benfica are believed to have discussed a possible summer transfer at the end of the season, while Real Madrid and Barcelona have previously been linked with the Portugal Under-21 international.
Manchester United have been scouting Félix for some time and gathering reports on his performances with Benfica, while Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are also being whispered as potential destinations for the winger.