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Man Utd, Arsenal or somewhere else: Which team needs to sign Joao Felix the most?

10:00 AM WAT 10/12/2022
Joao Felix Portugal 2022
A number of clubs from around Europe have been linked with the Portugal star, but which is the best fit?

What a difference a shirt makes, huh? Well, to be fair. It's about more than just a shirt. It's about a system, about ideology, about freedom.

That's the big buzzword surrounding Joao Felix these days: freedom. With Portugal, he's free to be the player many thought he could be when Atletico Madrid bought him for a club-record fee of €126 million(£113m/$142m) in the summer of 2019. He's free to dominate the attacking phase in ways he has never been able to do under Diego Simeone.

And, pretty soon, it appears Felix will be free of Simeone's shackles, free to bring the Portugal version of his game to one of the world's biggest clubs.

The race to sign Felix will surely heat up soon, with even Atletico admitting that it seems time for all involved to move on.

"He is the biggest bet this club has taken in its history. I personally think he's a top talent, a world-class player," CEO Gil Martin told TVE. "For reasons it isn't worth getting into - the relationship between him and the boss [Simeone], the minutes played, his motivation right now - it makes you think that the reasonable thing is that if there's an option that's good for the player, good for the club, we can look at it.

"I'd love him to stay personally, but I don't think that's the player's idea."

Felix has said as much, taking a thinly-veiled shot at Simeone's Atletico after providing two assists to lead Portugal to a 6-1 rout of Switzerland in the World Cup last 16.

"The way you play here and at the club are different," he said. "When the conditions are favourable, things go better."

Clubs will be lining up to secure Felix's signature as, despite his struggles at Atleti, the 23-year-old attacker remains one of the sport's most promising young stars.

GOAL is here to break down which clubs will be after Felix, and at which club he may be able to play as the best version of himself:

  • Joao Felix Atletico Madrid 2021-22

    Manchester United

    One Portugal star out, another one right back in?

    That could be the hope at Manchester United, who are certainly in the market for attacking talent. The player most often linked has been Cody Gakpo, but they'll surely have their eye on Felix, too.

    And for good reason. Felix is a well-rounded attacker that can play centrally, on the wing or as a second striker. In that sense, he seems an ideal attacker for Erik ten Hag, a manager that would be glad to unleash Felix in a way that Simeone never has.

    Add in the presence of Portugal star Bruno Fernandes, who would offer Felix both a familiar face in the dressing room and a familiar creator on the field to link up with.

    Still, though, United may be in the market for a more natural goalscorer, something that the club sorely lacks at the moment. It may make more sense for them to stay out of the Felix sweepstakes and look elsewhere, like, say, towards his Portugal team-mate Goncalo Ramos perhaps?

  • Kean celebrating Juventus Serie A

    Juventus

    Talk about a Paulo Dybala replacement...

    Dybala tearfully left Turin this summer on a free to join Jose Mourinho's Roma, and while Juventus brought in a number of big signings in players like Angel Di Maria, Paul Pogba and Filip Kostic, none can quite do what Dybala did.

    Well, Felix can. He's a very similar player and many would argue that he might just have a higher ceiling than the Argentine.

    Like Dybala, Felix can thrive as that second striker, as a No.10 or out wide, with the latter being his spot for Portugal. For Juve, he'd be a seemingly-perfect addition to the attack next to or just behind Dusan Vlahovic, Moise Kean or Arkadiusz Milik.

    The big question, as usual, is money, or in this case, lack thereof.

    Juventus are a club in disarray with the club's entire leadership structure now all gone. It's unlikely a star like Felix would be ready to jump into that sort of mess, and it's more unlikely Juventus could get it together enough to pull off the signing of a star like Felix.

    The tactical fit is there, but the finances will be a major hurdle.

  • Mbappe Messi

    Paris Saint-Germain

    They're always in the mix, aren't they?

    If there's a big-name attacker on the market, you can bet that someone somewhere will claim PSG are interested, even if it rarely makes sense.

    This falls into that category.

    PSG have their star attackers and, even with their infinite riches, spending eight-to-nine figures on Felix probably isn't going to get them any closer to that long-awaited Champions League. They already have Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. They're fine.

    However, it should be said that they did lose Angel Di Maria this past summer and there's been plenty of rumblings about one of or both of Mbappe or Messi leaving in the near future. If they do, Felix could become a new centerpiece in Paris.

    That's a big if, though.

  • Gabriel Jesus worried Brazil World Cup

    Arsenal

    Arsenal should be in the market for an attacker, but is Felix the one?

    Gabriel Jesus' kneeinjury has left the Premier League leaders with just one fit striker, Eddie Nketiah, which is obviously less-than-ideal. So, heading into January, the Gunners have two ways of handling that.

    The first is to sign a stopgap signing to get them through Jesus' absence and, eventually, be his backup. There are plenty of good, veteran strikers that can be signed on the cheap to fill this role.

    The other? To sign a player that can play instead of Jesus and then with Jesus, and Felix sure fits the bill.

    Although Arsenal do have plenty of attacking talent, with players like Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka becoming stars in their own right, the signing of Felix would give them one more weapon that can start across the front line or in place of Martin Odegaard in midfield.

    It's one that does make sense, you have to say.

  • Rafael Leao Portugal 2022

    Chelsea

    Chelsea have been heavily linked with a star Portuguese attacker. It just isn't Felix.

    Rafael Leao has been the name most often linked to the Blues, and it's easy to see why. The AC Milan star is a spectacular player and has certainly shone at the World Cup despite limited minutes.

    It's no wonder Chelsea want him, especially with the club potentially moving on from Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic at some point soon.

    Perhaps, though, if Leao doesn't work out, they could pivot to Felix. However, don't the Blues already have a similar player in Kai Havertz, who can play across the front line but isn't a true No. 9? Wouldn't they be better served instead pushing to sign to a true goalscorer?

    We'll see.

  • Jamal Musiala Thomas Muller Bayern Munich 2022-23

    Bayern Munich

    It may have made sense at one point, but no longer.

    Bayern were linked with Felix last year, but Sport1 are reporting that the club is no longer in the market for the Portuguese star. That makes sense.

    More than anything, Bayern need a No.9 to replace Robert Lewandowski, something that Felix is not. He wouldn't really fill a hole at Bayern and, let's be honest, Bayern have few holes to fill.

    They already have Jamal Musiala to fill a similar role and you could certainly argue that Musiala is the better of the two.

    The signing of Felix wouldn't change anything, and Bayern don't spent millions on players that won't change things.

    Look for Bayern to address their attack with a striker either this January or in the summer.

  • Unai Emery Aston Villa 2022-23

    Aston Villa

    There's no way, right?

    Well, according to Marca, Aston Villa are one of the teams in the mix. Felix's agent, Jorge Mendes, is a supporter of the idea. But how would it work out?

    The presence of Unai Emery could help, although the obvious lack of European football would definitely be one for the negative column.

    It's safe to say that Villa would give Felix the opportunity to be the main man, though, which is something the clubs listed above couldn't necessarily say.

    With Philippe Coutinho faltering, Felix would obviously come in to be Villa's primary creative presence and would immediately become the club's best player since Jack Grealish departed for Manchester City last year.

    Could he have a Grealish-like impact? Most definitely. Felix has everything needed to be a Premier League star.

    Still, though, it's hard to see this one adding up due to the money involved and, perhaps most importantly, Felix's ambitions.

  • Felix Arsenal gfx

    Conclusion

    If you've come this far, you've noticed that there are more arguments against Felix than for.

    The truth is that the market is tough for players like Felix, who don't necessarily have a defined position. Teams are always looking for pacey wingers, for clinical strikers, for dynamic midfielders. Felix, meanwhile, is a little bit of all three.

    In terms of fit, though, Arsenal seems solid, especially as the Gunners battle Manchester City in the Premier League title race. This could be the year for Mikel Arteta's side to really go for it, and why not go for it by signing one of the world's top young players?

    Whether they, or anyone, can afford it is a different matter. Atletico won't want to lose money on this deal. They'll want a big fee back.

    Can anyone pry Felix away? Will we finally see the Portugal version of Felix at the Emirates or elsewhere?

    We'll find out soon enough.