João Félix Barcelona transfer: What’s the latest?

After a loan spell at Stamford Bridge last season which Chelsea decided not to make permanent, and various comments to the media this season, it looks like João Félix’s days as an Atletico de Madrid player are numbered. 

Reports broken by Helena Condis Edo on Partizado Cope, and translated by Football España, have suggested that Barcelona are going to try and tempt Félix to the club in the final days of this transfer window.

But how would they be able to do so, and how would he fit in with Xavi’s Blaugrana?

Could former Chelsea loanee Joao Felix end up at Barcelona?
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Joao Felix to Barcelona: What's the latest?

No future at Atleti?

Félix last appeared in an Atleti squad as an unused substitute in the club’s first pre-season game against a K-League XI, before being dropped from the squad completely for fixtures against Manchester City, Real Sociedad and Sevilla. 

Atleti improved heavily in the second half of last season, finishing strongly to secure a Champions League spot with relative ease in the end. Much was made of this improvement coinciding with Félix’s departure from the club on loan – and the power struggle that had taken place between him and coach Diego Simeone. 

Diego Simeone and Joao Felix at Atletico Madrid
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He returned to the Wanda Metropolitano at the conclusion of that loan spell, but soon upset the hierarchy at Atleti again with his comments to Fabrizio Romano, where he stated that “Barcelona has always been my first choice and I'd love to join Barca. … It was always my dream since I was a kid. … If it happens, it will be a dream come true for me.”

Atleti were reportedly surprised by the comments, being unaware that Félix was about to speak in such a public setting, and his subsequent omission from pre-season squads is said to have come from strained relationships with both Simeone and the group as a whole. 

Further reports from Marca now suggest that he has been frozen out of Atleti training and was not included in a full-squad training game ahead of Los Colchoneros’ opening La Liga game against Granada. 

Can Barcelona afford him?

With reports of continued financial difficulties affecting Barcelona, there remains a question if the club could seriously pursue a player who would demand the kind of fee that Félix would – although relations between Barcelona and Atletico, previously frosty, have been thawed somewhat by the deal to bring Antoine Griezmann back to the Wanda, and that for Memphis Depay also.

Joao Felix playing against Barcelona for Atletico Madrid
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The latest reports suggest though that Barcelona might be willing to offer Ansu Fati as part of an exchange deal to land Félix. The Barcelona No. 10 has looked sharper again in this pre-season, but still feels down the pecking order for Xavi – Fati only got given the last 10 minutes as a substitute against Getafe, even with his team needing a goal. 

With Ousmane Dembele leaving the club, Barcelona will have a little bit more room for manoeuvre regarding their wage cap, but Xavi is still said to want a right-back and an attacking midfielder before he signs another forward. 

Constraints regarding that wage cap meant that Barcelona had to wait until the day before their opening game in order to register a number of players – including Ilkay Gündogan and Iñigo Martinez, but the fact they were all successfully registered in time for the game suggests that Barcelona might now be in a better place from which to work. 

Whether that would be enough to get Félix through the door on a wage he’d find acceptable, remains to be seen. 

How would he fit?

Another factor in this is if Xavi would actually want Félix at the club – with numerous sources this summer suggesting that the Barcelona manager is not actually keen on working with the Portuguese youngster. 

That said, Félix’s agent Jorge Mendes is desperate to get his man out of the situation he finds himself in at Atleti, and with Barcelona trying to sign João Cancelo from Manchester City, and with numerous other Mendes clients on the books, Barcelona President Joan Laporta will be trying his utmost to keep the agent happy. 

And with Barcelona’s toothless display against Getafe on the opening weekend of La Liga, Xavi might need to increase his options for breaking down teams that look to sit deep and frustrate his side. 

Reports suggest that Barcelona manager Xavi would not be all that keen on bringing Joao Felix to the club
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Félix’s move to Atleti hasn’t been a success, but there can be no doubt that he remains a remarkable talent. Capable of operating on either flank, through the middle, or as a Number 10, there’s a future in which Félix would be the perfect support foil for Lewandowski. 

Xavi’s preferred system involves a 3+1 midfield, in which either Gavi or Pedri nominally plays as a winger, but in reality they hold a more central role and leave Robert Lewandowski up top alongside one other – Raphinha started in this other role against Getafe. 

Felix’s versatility and ability to make things happen in the final third could be the final piece of the puzzle. His workrate has always remained excellent, and adding his directness and ability to beat a man might just be the tonic to the struggles that Barcelona endured in front of goal at the weekend. 

An intriguing alternative

The other card that remains on the table is a surprise link-up with Unai Emery at Aston Villa, after the Birmingham club’s interest was revealed earlier on in the summer. 

A huge factor in this deal is Villa’s appointment of Monchi as their Director of Football earlier on this summer. 

Joao Felix playing against Aston Villa for Chelsea in the Premier League
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Journalist Rudy Galetti, speaking to GIVEMESPORT, stated that “the player would like to play again in the Premier League and the project that Unai Emery and the new sporting director Monchi are carrying out could facilitate his move to Aston Villa.”

Felix is said to have enjoyed his time in the Premier League, and is reportedly intrigued by the team that Emery is building at Villa Park. 

The club can offer European football after qualifying for the Conference League last season, and their ownership means that they are one of only a few clubs that could afford to pay the price Atleti are looking for.

It’s still probably a long-shot, but if Barcelona’s financial situation stops them from making their move, it’s one to keep an eye out for in the final days of the transfer window.