Jo\u00e3o F\u00e9lix didn't need to do the rest particular to make other folks consider. There was once no light-bulb second that satisfied his coaches at Benfica that he was once destined for greatness, no unmarried heroic efficiency that marked him for superstardom. Whilst a teen \u2014 braces clamped to his enamel, hair swept ahead over his eyes, shoulders slight \u2014 F\u00e9lix was once a love-at-first-sight type of participant.There was once not anything brash about his skill. \u201cHe isn't a dribbling man,\u201d stated Nuno Gomes, who was once operating at Seixal, Benfica\u2019s academy simply out of doors Lisbon, when F\u00e9lix arrived as a 15-year-old. However there didn't wish to be. His brilliance shone within the little issues, the straightforward issues.Gomes fell for his imaginative and prescient, his belief and, particularly, his first contact: the best way he looked as if it would know what he was once going to do ahead of he gained the ball. \u201cHe thinks quicker than the others,\u201d he stated.Jo\u00e3o Tralh\u00e3o, a trainer who labored with F\u00e9lix all the way through his upward thrust in the course of the academy, noticed it in the best way he approached coaching classes. \u201cThat\u2019s what's maximum vital at that age,\u201d Tralh\u00e3o stated. \u201cCoaching, now not festival. This is a just right indicator for a trainer of the way a ways a participant will pass.\u201d What stood out, to Tralh\u00e3o, was once that F\u00e9lix had the air of a perfectionist, even in essentially the most elementary workouts.Jos\u00e9 Boto was once Benfica\u2019s leader scout on the time. He labored with the senior staff, however he have been advised through his colleagues on the academy about this participant he needed to come see. \u201cThey'd no doubts about him,\u201d he remembered. He would pass to academy video games, ceaselessly, to control him. He temporarily reached the similar conclusion. \u201cHe was once other from the others,\u201d he stated.In that sense, F\u00e9lix\u2019s beginning tale tracks alongside the similar strains as that of each and every different nice in ready. His skill stood out from an early age. The ones round him knew that he was once destined to make it. There was once even, as is conventional, a hardship to be triumph over: in his case, the truth that F\u00e9lix discovered himself at Benfica handiest as a result of he had left F.C. Porto\u2019s academy at age 15.Those are the typical tropes of all of those tales. They don't seem to be advised, essentially, as a result of the advantages of hindsight \u2014 there's no explanation why to not consider Tralh\u00e3o and Gomes and Boto all in fact believed F\u00e9lix could be a celebrity on the time \u2014 however through a want, possibly, to seek out some type of coherence within the every now and then chaotic technique of unearthing the following transcendent football skill. They spotlight our want to form a story, to construct a tale, to consider within the inevitability of future.And but in a single the most important method F\u00e9lix\u2019s tale is other. There may be one component that has stuck even those that know him through marvel. Slightly 4 years since his departure from Porto and his arrival at Benfica, F\u00e9lix, 19, is a sensation within the truest imaginable sense, a participant whose performances equipped the spark \u2014 in his first complete senior season \u2014 to boost Benfica to the Portuguese championship ultimate spring. His praise was once a freelance containing a buyout clause so massive that his teammates nicknamed him the \u201c\u20ac120 million boy.\u201dWhen Cristiano Ronaldo got here to observe F\u00e9lix and Benfica play Carrying within the Lisbon derby, a former Benfica govt joked that \u201cPortugal\u2019s absolute best participant was once within the stadium, and it was once great of Ronaldo to return and spot him.\u201d At one level this summer season, F\u00e9lix featured at the entrance web page of the Portuguese tabloid Correio da Manh\u00e3 8 days in a row.It was once in the similar summer season that he made his world debut and that Atl\u00e9tico Madrid made him the most costly Portuguese participant in historical past, his $138 million price ticket greater than Actual Madrid paid Manchester United for Ronaldo in 2009 and greater than Juventus paid Actual Madrid for Ronaldo ultimate 12 months.F\u00e9lix now ranks as one in every of Eu football\u2019s maximum dazzling younger possibilities, earmarked because the standard-bearer of a brand new technology. Extra straight away, he's the cornerstone of Diego Simeone\u2019s rejuvenation venture at Atl\u00e9tico, through which he's tasked with finishing a five-year look ahead to a Spanish identify and a for much longer craving for a Champions League crown. Atl\u00e9tico\u2019s marketing campaign begins on Wednesday in Turin, in opposition to Juventus. This is a becoming appointment: Ronaldo in opposition to F\u00e9lix, Portugal\u2019s previous and provide in opposition to its long term, the king in opposition to the inheritor.The rate with which the latter has traveled from there to here's eye-opening. As lately as ultimate summer season, Boto \u2014 whose report as a skill spotter comprises bringing the likes of Luka Jovic and Axel Witsel to Lisbon \u2014 should not have believed F\u00e9lix would have risen to prominence so temporarily.\u201cWe had a trainer who put extra emphasis on bodily attributes,\u201d he stated. \u201cIt's a must to have the believe of a trainer.\u201d That handiest modified, for F\u00e9lix, in January. Even though he made his debut for Benfica a 12 months in the past, it was once handiest after Bruno Lage arrived as trainer halfway in the course of the season that he truly began to flourish.9 months later, he's a celebrity, one so younger that he's anticipated to hold one of the crucial international\u2019s grandest golf equipment in two of its greatest competitions, similtaneously his folks take six-month shifts residing with him in Madrid.That's what is other about F\u00e9lix\u2019s tale: now not the fabric, however the context. Up to now, he would possibly had been given extra time to expand within the somewhat shallow waters of Portugal, leaving after a few seasons as a first-team common.Gomes, as an example, a former Benfica striker who was once one thing of a prodigy himself, handiest left for Italy at age 24. Now, although, the rustic\u2019s football financial system has shifted. \u201cGolf equipment have discovered a industry type in line with their academies, and coaches are extra vulnerable to play younger gamers,\u201d he stated. There's no wish to look ahead to them to turn out themselves on mortgage, or to ease them into the primary staff slowly. \u201cThe mentality is to search for skill within the academies,\u201d Gomes stated.Europe\u2019s apex predators have modified, too. In 2016, when the ultimate sensation to emerge from the Benfica academy \u2014 midfielder Renato Sanches \u2014 departed for Bayern Munich, it was once after a complete season, and a a hit run for Portugal within the Eu Championship. F\u00e9lix has now not even had that. He didn't need to wait, nor did Atl\u00e9tico. Simeone has put him instantly within the staff. Even Ronaldo, in his first 12 months at Manchester United, was once eased into motion. Now, there's merely no time to waste.Those that know F\u00e9lix aren't anxious. They consider he can cope. \u201cThe golf equipment get ready the gamers higher now,\u201d Gomes stated. Tralh\u00e3o, for his section, stated he didn't consider there was once this type of factor as \u201ctoo quickly.\u201d \u201cIt is just too quickly in case you aren't in a position,\u201d he stated. So far as they may be able to inform, F\u00e9lix is in a position.Tralh\u00e3o noticed his former pupil in short when the Portugal squad accrued in Lisbon this month. \u201cHe has had numerous reports since I first met him, he has earned much more cash, however he is similar humorous, humble boy I have in mind,\u201d he stated. Yearly at Benfica, F\u00e9lix performed forward of himself: in an older age workforce, for the reserves, for the primary staff. There's no explanation why Atl\u00e9tico will have to be any other, he stated. F\u00e9lix has all the time been at the rapid observe. The acceleration will have to now not concern him.Tariq Panja contributed reporting.