Simeone Loves ‘Rebellious’ Players

Diego Simeone

Diego Simeone has welcomed Joao Felix’s angry goal celebration, saying he “loves it when players rebel” after the forward scored in Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 win at Villarreal on Sunday.

The 21-year-old came off the bench at half-time to help seal a victory that put Atletico five points clear at the top of La Liga with a game in hand.

Felix scored in the 69th minute and responded by putting his finger to his lips, unsmiling and shouting in Portuguese in the direction of the Atletico Madrid bench before being surrounded by teammates.

“You will have to ask him,” coach Simeone said laughing, when asked about the reaction.

“He scored a great goal. He came on and did well in the second half…I love it when players rebel, when they look to be strong. We need him to be, he’s an important player for us.

“I will ask him in the next training session,” Simeone added, when pressed on the celebration in his post-match news conference. “I love it when players show pride. How long had it been since Joao scored? If players are rebellious, give them to me!” he said.

Joao Felix cost €126 million when Atletico signed him from Benfica in July 2019 after just a year of senior football.

He scored six league goals in an inconsistent debut season and has seven so far this campaign, two of them coming in 2021.

The Portugal international has also struggled with a series of injuries and recovered from the coronavirus last month.

“He’s a really important player,” defender Stefan Savic said, adding, “He’s different, with an incredible talent. I don’t think the celebration shows that he was annoyed with anyone. He knows the important role he has here.”

Another teammate, Luis Suarez, posted a photo of himself and Felix smiling together after the match on social media.