It doesn't seem too long ago that Atlético Madrid spent almost €130m to bring Portuguese forward João Félix to the club, but now it has been made clear he has no future in Madrid.
Felix’s move from Benfica to the Spanish capital remains the third-highest transfer in football history, only behind Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Four years later and it seems as if the footballing world is still waiting to see the true potential of the Portugal international.
Atlético are a team with a philosophy that players must buy into, and unfortunately for Félix, he was never really able to nail down a guaranteed place in Diego Simeone’s squad.
Félix has made 131 appearances for the Colchoneros, scoring 34 goals and providing 18 assists. On paper, those statistics don't seem drastically poor, especially for a player who isn't your natural number 9. However, the transfer fee was always going to come with scrutiny and pressure, and those returns just aren't good enough for that amount of money.
In January of this year, Félix was allowed to leave Atlético on loan, with Chelsea offering around £10m for a six-month loan fee. Despite the ridiculously high loan fee, the deal suited both parties and gave Félix a fresh start and a chance to play more regularly.
Chelsea went on to finish 12th in the Premier League, with Félix scoring 4 times in 20 appearances. Perhaps a case of the right club at the wrong time, as Chelsea found themselves in the midst of a huge rebuilding process.
Now we are in the summer window and Félix is back in Madrid after there were no talks of making his Chelsea move permanent.
However, his club have made it clear he is still for sale and their stance on his future has not changed. Of course they will not be able to recoup all the money they paid to Benfica, but the hierarchy seem to think now is the time to cash out whilst Félix is still young.
How much is João Félix worth?
This question certainly does not have a simple answer for a multitude of reasons. The worth of any player will be different in the eyes of their club and the club wanting to purchase them.
Atlético will, in their eyes, see Félix as an asset that they spent €130m on and will be doing what they can to prove to any suitors that he is worth close to that.
However, if we are being realistic, Félix is four years older now, has not made much significant improvement, and is on a high wage per week. This means any club looking to buy him is unlikely to come anywhere near the valuation Atlético would be looking for.
Félix also had his contract extended earlier this year up until 2027, which adds a further layer of complications. Madrid likely made this deal to ensure a higher fee when selling the player, as any interested club is now buying a player out of a deal with almost four years left on it.
Which clubs are interested in Félix?
The final twist in terms of the value of Félix is the meteoric rise of the Saudi League this summer. In a “normal” transfer window, you could expect Atlético to be happy with getting €50m back for Félix, but the transfers to the Saudi League this summer have changed the entire landscape of the market.
All of a sudden, the big 4 in Saudi are offering huge fees and wages for some of Europe’s elite. The list of players who have headed to the Middle East this summer is astonishing, with European clubs taking advantage of these lucrative offers for their players.
Atlético will be seeing some of the fees paid by the likes of Al-Hilal and Al Nassr, who are both reportedly interested in Félix, and be rethinking their asking price. That is why a move to Saudi, and maybe even a potential link up with Portugal teammate Cristiano Ronaldo at Al Nassr, is the most likely destination for Félix this summer.
There are very few clubs in Europe willing or able to offer anything close to the €80-100m Atlético are wanting, and that leaves Saudi as maybe the only option.
However, latest reports have hinted at Félix’s desire to play for Barcelona, and with the Catalan club recently losing Ousmane Dembélé, you could see a world where that move happens. It would probably be a similar style loan as the one to Chelsea, with Barcelona still going through a host of financial complications. F
Atlético may be unwilling to allow a move to a direct rival when there is no fee coming the other way. Only time will tell, but if Félix does stay in Europe, Barcelona is the likely destination and is a team that you’d think would suit his play style much more. They play a far more fluid style than Diego Simeone's team, but it all comes down to whether Barca can somehow stump up at least €60m to offer the Madrid club.
In this crazy market we find ourselves in, João Félix could be worth €50m, €100m or anywhere in between. Whatever happens this summer, expect the Portuguese forward to be suiting up for a new team by the time the transfer window comes to an end. Whether that be in the familiar setting of Barcelona or a brand new start in the Saudi League, Félix is on the move.