Chelsea have completed the signing of Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid for the remainder of the season.
The Blues have beaten Premier League rivals Manchester United and Arsenal to the signing of the Portugal forward, with neither side willing to pay the €11m (£9.69m) loan fee plus wages.
Felix could be in contention to make his Chelsea debut at Fulham on Thursday night, but Blues boss Graham Potter said the club are awaiting confirmation of whether or not he can play in the west London derby.
Potter added on Felix: “He’s a quality player. He can make a difference in the final third. He is young but has a lot of really good experience. He’s a quality player that brings everyone a lift.”
Asked whether the deal had been planned, Potter responded: “We’ve been aware of it for a while. The injuries have maybe sharpened the focus of the club.
“It is nice to get him here and training today. We will see him for the game on Thursday.
“From a physical perspective, he can go in. It’s always a little bit of an unknown period as he is going from one club to another, but that’s on a case-to-case basis.”
Atletico have said Felix has agreed to extend his contract with the Spanish club by one year taking his deal up until June 2027.
On the loan move to Chelsea, Felix told the club’s official website: “Chelsea is one of the great teams in the world and I hope to help the team reach their objectives, so I am very, very happy to be here and very excited to play at Stamford Bridge.”
Felix traveled to London on Tuesday to undergo a medical ahead of joining Chelsea for the rest of the season.
Felix joined Atletico from Benfica in a €126m (£111m) deal from Benfica in 2019.
The LaLiga side have been prepared to let Felix – who has five goals and three assists in all competitions this season – leave on loan in January because of his difficult relationship with manager Diego Simeone.
Could Depay replace Felix at Atletico?
Atletico Madrid are in talks to sign Barcelona forward Memphis Depay as they look for a replacement for Joao Felix.
Depay is out of contract in the summer. Atletico also looked into the possibility of Chelsea signing striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
However, FIFA rules state a player can be registered with a maximum of three clubs in a season – but only play for two of them.
Aubameyang has played for Barcelona and Chelsea. Barcelona are exploring the possibility of re-signing him if Depay makes the move to Atletico.
In a seven-month spell at Barcelona last year, Aubameyang scored 13 goals in 18 starts in all competitions.
Under Graham Potter, Aubameyang has started four Premier League games.
Does Atlético contract extension suggest Simeone is leaving?
Spanish football expert Fernando Kallas told Sky Sports News:
“It’s not a surprise because I don’t see Joao Felix playing here. It was a relationship that was completely broken [with Diego Simeone]. We knew that he was leaving, we didn’t even expect him to play again for Atletico Madrid after the World Cup – they had to do it, they had no option.
“He’s not going to play under Simeone and he just renewed his contract at Atletico, so is Simeone leaving at the end of the season? That’s the question everybody is asking in Spain.
“There are reports that the relationship between Simeone and the board and Atletico’s owners is getting more and more complicated. He’s a very complicated guy to deal with, very strong-minded.
“His military mentality and regime at Atletico Madrid was really good from the beginning with the low-level players, but dealing with superstars like Joao Felix, it’s another deal.
“It’s weird that it’s only a loan, it is a very expensive loan – €11m is a lot of money for only for six months with no buy clause. What is happening with Atletico at the end of the season – that is the big question .
“I think it works because for Atletico, it’s a very expensive salary that Chelsea is going to have to pay, and for Chelsea, they’re getting an outstanding player that wanted to leave, he’s motivated, he wants to show Simeone and to Atletico that he is worth the €127m that Atletico paid for him. So, it’s a ‘prove it’ deal for these six months.”
‘Chelsea also want right-back and midfielder’
Sky Sports chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
“You’ve got to factor in Felix’s wages. He earns more than £250,000 per week so Chelsea have to cover his wages as well.
“Chelsea have been criticized because they’re spending so much money in the transfer market, but they do have a strategy this month.
“Ideally, they would like a right-back as well, and a midfield player.”
‘Felix deal works for both parties’
Sky Sports reporter Dharmesh Sheth:
“This deal works for both parties. Chelsea would probably look to the summer when they can reassess and see what other options are out there.
“For Atletico Madrid, they paid close to £120m for Felix. If they were to include an option price now or sell him now, they wouldn’t get anywhere near that money.
“It’s likely they won’t get anywhere near that money when they do eventually sell him, but if he goes to Chelsea and performs really well for six months, he can then go back to Atletico with three years left on his contract and maybe his value is higher.
“Arsenal wanted to sign him as well, and Manchester United were looking at him.”
‘Felix could help but next season should be the focus’
Sky Sports football journalist Joe Spread:
Owner Todd Boehly has already shown he’s more than willing to spend in a bid to improve Graham Potter’s squad, and attack is clearly an area that needs addressing.
Finding the back of the net is a serious issue, with Chelsea ranking 12th for goals scored in the Premier League, while Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz are the only players to score more than three goals in all competitions.
The need for more goalscorers in Potter’s squad is obvious, but the lack of chances being created is arguably an even bigger issue.
Chelsea rank a lowly 15th for expected goals in the Premier League and have actually outperformed their figure of 18.81, suggesting their forwards are not underperforming as dramatically as it may seem.
Felix’s move to Atletico may not have worked out the way either party hoped, but he is a player that should be able to help with Chelsea’s issues in the final third if he hits the ground running in west London.
Despite starting just seven LaLiga matches this season, he ranks in the top 12 in the Spanish top flight for both goals and assists per 90 minutes.
Felix is also a versatile forward, capable of playing as a striker, a No 10 or on the flanks – something that will appeal to Potter, given the head coach’s habit of deploying a variety of formations.
However, questions will be asked about the decision to bring in Felix without negotiating an option to buy the Portugal international as part of the loan deal.
Barring another remarkable run in the Champions League, silverware is already out of the question this season for the Blues, meaning the second half of the campaign should be about building for 2023/24.
If Felix is not going to be a part of next season, do they need him taking a place in the team of somebody who will be?
Who will be on the move this winter? The January transfer window opens on Sunday January 1, 2023 and closes at 11pm we Tuesday January 31, 2023.
Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumors in our dedicated Transfer Center blog we Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.