Chelsea has secured the services of Atlético Madrid forward Joao Felix on a loan deal for the rest of the season.
The West London side was able to strike a deal that would bring the Portuguese about 11 million euros (£9.7m).
Félix is another piece to such a complicated attacking puzzle that Graham Potter is still trying to solve.
Félix, 23, had been touted to Arsenal and Manchester United in the early weeks of the transfer window, but the former desire to bring in Mykhailo Mudryk and the latter preference for a more traditional number nine in the form of Wout Weghorst has allowed Todd Boehly and co. to swoop in and secure a deal.
Also, with injuries to Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic, with the latter ruled out for a few months, recruiting a forward was highly prioritised.
It’s been no secret about Félix and Atlético manager Diego Simeone’s relationship. In fact, many would say that the move has come to fruition due to the unstable nature of how the two have been torn apart as players and managers.
Despite this, Félix has extended his contract with the club for one more season until June 2027. A decision that comes as a surprise, but many believed the reports that Simeone would depart at the end of the current season. This makes a Félix extension more sensible for the player’s long-term future at the Madrid club.
So with Félix six-month loan confirmation done, what can Chelsea fans expect from the once dubbed Potrugese ‘wonderkid’?
What can Chelsea expect from Joao Felix?
Well, it’s essential to address that, despite the few seasons of underwhelming since his move from Benfica, João Félix has still shown glimpses of the skill, imagination and technical proficiency that bought him to the centre of Spain for €126m.
So for a then-19-year-old to come into an infamous pragmatic set-up by a defence-first manager in Diego Simeone, it would’ve been a confidence-shaker not to have that trust position to play into from the off-set and is even more damming considering the type of profile Félix is as a football and the type of system Simeone has been famed for playing.
As a profile, Félix has generational-defying talent. A skillset that many modern-day forwards could only wish for.
The Portuguese has the poise, skill and grace that has earned him comparisons to his supposed “lookalike” Kaká. He also has the on-ball qualities that make him a suitable option in any position across the frontline.
And his four years at Atlético, it’s clear that Félix has also enhanced his off-ball skills. His defensive actions (tackles and interceptions) have gone up from (0.98) to (1.80), a massive jump in defensive numbers, especially for a player who hasn’t always been the biggest fan of the system he has played in — a credit to the player mentality.
Regarding Chelsea, the major weakness within Graham Potter’s side that then-manger Thomas Tuchel also suffered is the need for a clinical edge.
The chances of Félix, a player who has only registered 10+ goals in a season- his last season at Benfica- is unlikely to solve the goal-scoring problem. But the lack of creative spark offered for the attackers has also been a problem, and the arrival of Félix, who ranks in the 93rd pecentinlce for assists and the 86th percentile for xAG amongst forwards.
An innovative player such as Félix could be the short-term spark needed to limit the attacking burden on Kai Havertz and Mason Mount.
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— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 11, 2023
There has been much scepticism about this deal for both sides.
From the player’s point of view, Félix is singing to an underwhelming side that has been struggling in the attacking third. On the other hand, Chelsea is paying a lot for a player who will unlikely not have a long-term future with that.
But despite this, a deal like this is always refreshing to see; Félix has something to prove to the footballing world — a chance to justify his talent just as he did in Qatar, and Chelsea can only benefit from that.