Portugal manager Fernando Santos has no doubts over selecting the inexperienced Joao Felix for the UEFA Nations League Finals.
Santos somewhat surprised everybody by selecting Felix in Portugal’s 23-man squad this summer. While there are no doubts over the 19-year-old’s ability, questions have been raised over the fact he’s never played senior international football.
But Felix’s breakout campaign for Benfica was simply too hard to ignore for Santos in the end. He scored 15 goals and added a further nine assists in 26 games as Benfica won a 37th Primeira Liga title.
The teenage forward is now even hailed as Portugal’s “new Cristiano Ronaldo”, with big European clubs set to activate his €120m buy-out clause at Benfica.
Therefore, Santos decided to take a chance on Felix to add some more firepower in Portugal’s bid to win the Nations League at home.
“If he wasn’t ready he wouldn’t be called up,” said Santos, according to Fox Sports.
“Regardless of age, we assess capabilities.
“So, if he was selected and is part of this team and others were left out that is because he is ready to play.
“He’s been called up for a reason. We need to call up players who can contribute. He has great qualities.”
He added: “Since when has Portugal not been able to produce talents?
“Just look at the last 20 years – we’ve always done it. Portugal has always had many talents.
“The players are different, but if you want to win you have to make everything compatible. It was always like this. We make of the past something that did not exist.
“We want to pass on the idea that in the past we had no talent.”
Portugal will take on Switzerland in the Nations League semi-finals at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto tonight. Kick-off will begin at 20:45 (CET).