Chelsea have learned their main rival for the permanent transfer of Joao Felix just as his loan spell is beginning, with thoughts of him playing elsewhere next season already forming in the media.
Felix has completed his move to Chelsea from Atletico Madrid on loan until the end of the season. Having fallen out of favour under Diego Simeone, the move to the Premier League represents a fresh start for him.
He will need to be at the top of his game to help a Chelsea side who have struggled for goals this season. No other side in the top half of the Premier League at present has scored fewer.
With Armando Broja out injured, Chelsea only have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as a recognised centre-forward, as well as youthful recent arrival David Datro Fofana. They can also turn to Kai Havertz in a more advanced role. Now, Felix has been added into the mix too.
The Blues announced Felix’s arrival on Wednesday. However, they will not have the option to buy him permanently at the end of the season. Should they wish to keep him, they will have to enter fresh negotiations with Atletico Madrid.
The La Liga side extended Felix’s contract until 2027 before allowing him to leave for Chelsea, in order to protect his market value. That said, he could still be facing a long-term future away from the Spanish capital.
According to Ruben Uria, a Madrid-based journalist, there are three options for Felix ahead of next season.
First, he could be reintegrated at Atletico, but that only seems likely if Simeone leaves his role as head coach – which isn’t impossible.
If Simeone stays, though, Felix will be aiming for a permanent exit. It could come via either Chelsea or, the reporter has revealed, Barcelona.
The Catalan club are long-term admirers of Felix, who has been an opponent in La Liga since 2019. Their interest remains, so they could be preparing a move for him in the summer.
It would be a strong threat to Chelsea’s hopes of keeping Felix for the long term. The Blues do not have any kind of right of first refusal on their new acquisition.
Complication still surrounds Joao Felix future
Hence, all they can hope is that Felix enjoys his loan spell with them and performs well. In turn, it might make the idea of staying at Chelsea more appealing.
Todd Boehly would have to part with a large sum of money to bring Felix to the club permanently. Indeed, Chelsea have already spent a substantial sum just to have him on loan until the end of June.
But there have been suggestions that a part-exchange deal might be viable. Coincidentally, ex-Barcelona man turned out-of-favour Chelsea striker Aubameyang has been linked with Atletico in recent hours.
For now, Aubameyang and Felix will be teammates. But perhaps there could be potential for their paths to diverge in a swap deal further down the line.
That said, it wouldn’t necessarily have to be Aubameyang to move in the opposite direction to Felix. There will be various potential formulas for a deal of this magnitude.
Chelsea can just be glad they have got the simple loan deal over the line.
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