The story of Tottenham Hotspur and Paulo Dybala is one that takes us back a few years now.
The hope was that Spurs would lure the talented Argentine to north London and indeed, they nearly did.
In the summer of 2019, it looked as though a deal was in place to land the crafty playmaker from Juventus but in a stunning twist of events, a move out of nowhere was off.
Spurs aimed to try again this year before his move to Roma but they ended up pulling out of a pursuit.
As it happens, Dybala has found his best form again in the Italian capital, scoring seven times and assisting twice for Jose Mourinho’s side.
It’s unlikely the Lilywhites will regret their unsuccessful venture but they could finally land their own version of the Argentina international next year.
That’s if they pursue a deal for Joao Felix. Their interest stems back to last summer but a deal looks all the more possible in January.
Atletico are seemingly willing to sell and the Portugal star is willing to leave having never truly been allowed creative freedom and the room to express himself under a dogged and defensive coach in Diego Simeone.
With that in mind, a move to Spurs might not be his cup of tea given Antonio Conte’s stance in some games, but despite that he’d surely have more opportunity to express his quality in a side containing the likes of Heung-min Son, Harry Kane and Dejan Kulusevksi.
What makes Dybala and Felix so alike is not just their positional sense – where they can both operate as the main centre-forward or as a second striker – but their natural ability on the ball and their reputation for making magical things happen.
Both are capable of scoring and assisting with great regularity if given the right environment, with Felix scoring as many as 20 goals and registering 11 assists in just 43 outings for Benfica. That was before a whopping £113m move to Atletico.
Dybala, on the other hand, scored 115 times and picked up 48 assists during his long stint in Turin where he was certainly one of the best in his position in Italy.
Although they are different footedness, the poise and grace remains the same, with Dybala and Felix having that Lionel Messi-like ability to shimmy and ghost past the opposition.
In the 2017/18 campaign where the former bagged a stunning 22 Serie A goals, he completed 2.8 dribbles per game, a tally very nearly replicated by Felix in Atleti’s 2020/21 Champions League campaign where the 23-year-old amassed 2.6 dribbles a match.
Possessing a deft touch and an elegance seldom seen in many places on the planet, Felix has recently shown his true colours on the global stage, shining in Qatar at the World Cup.
Although Portugal were knocked out by Morocco at the quarter-final stage, there was still time for the Spurs-linked star to shine as he found the net once and registered two assists.
Those two lines of supply came when Felix and co humiliated Granit Xhaka’s Switzerland in the round of 16 as Fernando Santos’ men beat them 6-1.
During that clash, snooker player Neil Robertson even noticed his talent, claiming he’d been “awesome.”
That sentiment is not wrong with the crafty Atletico ace winning four ground duels, succeeding with two dribbles and completing 84% of his passes, of which two were key.
That sort of form would not go amiss as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Fabio Paratici and Daniel Levy now hoping they can finally banish those bad Dybala memories by bringing in an equally gifted talent next year.