Playing Copa del Rey clash won't be punishment for Joao Felix – Simeone

By Sports Desk January 22, 2020

Diego Simeone insists Joao Felix should not take it as a punishment if he is selected to face third-tier side Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

Joao Felix, 20, joined Atletico for €126million in pre-season as the club looked to fill the void left by Antoine Griezmann's departure to Barcelona.

But the Portugal international has struggled to make an impact in LaLiga, getting two goals and one assist in 16 appearances.

He played 83 minutes of Atletico's 2-0 defeat to Eibar on Saturday but was again disappointing, hitting the target with only one of his three shots and failing to produce a single chance.

Simeone will be expected to rotate his squad for the trip to Segunda B2 promotion-chasers Cultural on Thursday, though he does not think playing in the match should be considered a negative for any of his first-team stars.

"I do not expect that [thought] - thinking that playing can be a punishment is to not value it," Simeone told reporters in his pre-match news conference.

"Everyone can be asked [to play]. It's not a punishment. Playing any game for Atletico Madrid is a dream, and whoever has to play, I hope they can get the minutes to develop in the best possible way."

Atletico have been strongly linked with Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani and media reports suggest an offer has even been submitted.

Simeone batted away questions relating to the Uruguay international, quickly changing the subject to the clash with Cultural.

"The only thing that worries me is the Copa del Rey match," he replied when told Cavani's relatives apparently want him to join Atletico.

"We live for the day-to-day and the results. The players who are not with us, they already know me, I don't usually think much about it."

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