Rating Man Utd and 7 clubs’ chances on signing Joao Felix after Diego Simeone dispute.
Joao Felix is reportedly unhappy at Atletico Madrid and wants to force through a transfer in the January window, but which clubs could feasibly take the Portuguese star?
Europe’s biggest clubs have been put on high alert by reports that Joao Felix is unhappy at Atletico Madrid and is desperate to leave the club in January.
Felix, who joined Atleti in a £113million transfer from Benfica in 2019, has reportedly fallen out with manager Diego Simeone and could be on the move at the earliest possible opportunity. Reports from Portugal say Felix has been “bullied” by Simeone and the situation came to a head when he was left on the bench for Atleti’s midweek Champions League game against Club Brugge.
Although Simeone hasn’t responded to the allegations of bullying, he did speak about Felix this week. “With Joao, I’m finding it difficult to get the best out of him, but that’s something I have to resolve,” he admitted. “I have to get the maximum out of all the players.”
Still only 22 years old, the versatile attacker has registered 29 goals and 18 assists in 122 appearances for Atleti across all competitions in the past three years. However, this season he is yet to get off the mark, with just three assists to his name in La Liga and the Champions League.
The youngster has been a substitute in every game since the international break, playing just 29 minutes across the Rojiblancos’ four matches in October. Felix is unhappy with his current situation and Simeone appears frustrated with his output, so could a transfer be on the cards in the January window?
Felix has been strongly linked with United in the past. In August reports emerged saying United had held meetings with Atleti officials in Madrid over the Portuguese star while they were in the country to work on Casemiro’s move from Real Madrid.
Back then it was thought that United were keen to buy Felix, but the Spanish giants were reluctant to sell. The situation could now be the other way around. Felix is under contract with Atleti until June 2026 and his price tag from Benfica means any transfer would be expensive.
United spent £85.5m on Antony in the summer as Erik ten Hag got his man. Yet looking ahead it is feasible that they could reshape their attack once more in 2023. Cristiano Ronaldo is unhappy and will be out of contract next summer and his potential departure opens up space – both physically and financially – for a big star.
Felix appears to have a bit of a soft spot for Liverpool, who have many of the attributes he likes in a club. The Reds sold Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich in the summer, but the subsequent arrival of Darwin Nunez, in a £85m move from Benfica, means they may no longer be in the market for a new forward.
Mohamed Salah signed a new contract with Liverpool recently, while Roberto Firmino’s recent form means he could do the same. The way Jurgen Klopp’s side have acted in the transfer market over recent years means a big-money move for Felix would be out of character.
Antoine Griezmann is a precedent for moves between Atleti and Barcelona
Barca are among the clubs reported to be considering Felix following his fallout with Simeone – and the Catalan giants have previous for such moves. Felix was originally a replacement for Antoine Griezmann, who joined Barca in the summer of 2019 only to re-join Atleti at a later date.
Barcelona love a blockbuster signing, especially from a rival, but their financial strife – and major investment over the summer to sign the likes of Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski and keep Ousmane Dembele – means Felix, in this kind of form, might not be high on their wish list. But then again, trying to predict what Barca will do in the transfer market is a tricky game.
Todd Boehly and his consortium have made a big splash since taking over Chelsea from Roman Abramovich in May. The US billionaire oversaw the summer transfer window himself, spending large sums of money on lots of players.
Felix would fit the bill in a few ways: he’s a talented big-name player and is young to fit into Chelsea’s stated transfer policy. Furthermore, it is highly likely some of the Blues’ fringe attackers could seek pastures new in 2023 after missing out on moves in the summer. If players like Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech left for decent fees then it is entirely plausible that Felix could arrive in west London next year.
PSG made efforts to rejuvenate over the summer, with Christophe Galtier replacing Mauricio Pochettino as manager and Luis Campos brought in behind the scenes. Nevertheless, the French giants are in turmoil once more, amid reports that Kylian Mbappe regrets his contract extension and has fallen out with Lionel Messi and Neymar.
PSG were reportedly open to selling Neymar in the summer, while Messi is 35 and in the final year of his contract. A fresh all-star attack could be on its way in 2023 in Paris and Felix is exactly the type of player you could see featuring in it.
The Magpies are ambitious and, thanks to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, have the cash to fulfil their ambitions. As Klopp said this week, Newcastle are among a small group of clubs who can “do whatever they want”.
Newcastle have already shown they can muscle in on big players by signing the likes of Bruno Guimaraes, so why not Felix? They can pay the transfer fee, his wages and offer him a place in the Premier League – and perhaps Europe next season.
One of the European giants who have the financial power to pull off such a move. The loss of Lewandowski to Barca has, arguably, left Bayern short of a star in an attack which now shares the load between the likes of Mane, Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Thomas Muller.
Felix prefers to play as a second striker, rather than as a No9, so would perhaps suit the Bavarians’ fluid style of play. But it is hard to see how he would fit into Julian Nagelsmann’s current side.
City were linked with Felix over the summer, but the reports from Portugal were rebuffed by officials at the club as agent-led speculation. City signed Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez instead – and those deals have worked out pretty well so far.
Felix does fit the mould of a possible Pep Guardiola player and his youth means City might well see value in a transfer. But with Jack Grealish and Phil Foden already on the books, a creative withdrawn forward doesn’t appear to be a priority in the short-term for the club.