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National team manager defends underfire Barcelona forward: “Don’t understand the scrutiny”

Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo arrived at Barcelona on the summer transfer deadline day. Both players came in on loan deals, one from Atletico Madrid and one from Manchester City, hoping to make a long-term impact and distance themselves from their former clubs.

Both Cancelo and Felix have enjoyed successes at Barcelona, albeit at different levels. The defender has impressed tangibly more, for Felix’s inconsistencies have left him without a starting spot in recent games.

Roberto Martinez, the coach of the Portuguese national team, spoke recently in a detailed interview where he gave his two cents about the two Portuguese pearls on loan at Barcelona. He began by revealing that he regularly followed the Catalans’ games.

“I analyse Barcelona from the point of view of the two Portuguese players we have, individually, and there have been very good moments during the season. When I see Barça with the two Joaos, I think it’s a more unpredictable team.”

On Cancelo

He then elaborated on his decision to call the team ‘unpredictable’ and emphasised that Cancelo’s versatility was one of the primary reasons for the same.

“He’s the type of player that all coaches look for. He can play on the wing, on the outside, on the inside, he can run wide, he can turn and he can play forward. He has the ability to be a midfielder and then he can develop his game in the final third like a striker. And he can defend like a defender,” Martinez said.

Martinez went on to speak about the Manchester City loanee’s fitness and ability to withstand hectic schedules without a visible drop in quality.

“He is a very complete player, with a physical capacity that allows him to play three games in a week. He covers many of the requirements to be one of the best players in his position in world football. His performance in Barcelona shows that.”

Martinez happy with Cancelo and Felix’s performances at Barcelona. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

On Joao Felix

Moving onto the topic of Joao Felix, Martinez came out in the winger’s defence for the harsh criticism directed against him and called him a player of a very high level.

“As a coach, I value him very much, his attitude, and what he is doing. He had the opportunity to put his arms down in a very, very difficult climate.”

“I don’t understand the scrutiny he’s getting, it doesn’t go with a 24-year-old player. He is a player who is on loan and who, in September and October, had a period of a very high level,” he added.

The manager then praised Felix for the impact he made despite the criticism mounted on him, even if it was off the bench.

“I really appreciate how he also makes a difference. It’s not easy when you’re a player who is always in the crosshairs. It’s not football, it’s not understood.”

One of the biggest arguments against Felix in recent years has been around his inconsistency. On his day, he can rule the field but is virtually nonexistent on other nights.

“I totally disagree. You can’t accuse a single player of how the team is doing. If Barça were not inconsistent when Joao Félix is not on the field it would make sense, but I don’t think there is a relationship between the scrutiny that is done and what he gives to the team. I don’t see it that way,” Martinez said about the same, blatantly disagreeing with the sentiment.

“The team itself has been inconsistent, the eleven players plus the five who can enter, not just one player,” he added.

Martinez rounded off the topic by elaborating on Felix’s growth over the years, the impact his stint in England had on his game and how the youngster was always determined to play better.

“He is 24 years old, he is a different player after his time in England. I understand the Premier League very well, what is required of a foreign player, and when he arrived he had to get stronger.”

“He is a player who has a great capacity to protect the ball and there it made him even more consistent. He is happy, very committed, he is a player who does not act like a player who is on loan, but with total commitment, and shows me a great maturity,” he added.

Source: SPORT

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