Joao Felix’s next club – Barca or bust? – This is a vital season in the career of Joao Felix. At 23, he’s finally at a club where he appears to fit in and the early signs are very promising for the Portuguese international in Barcelona.
Having spent the second half of last season on loan at Chelsea and with his relationship frosty with Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone, a fresh departure was always likely this summer. Felix was adamant the only club he wanted to join was Barcelona and he finally got his wish on deadline day with a loan move agreed.
Significantly there is no option to buy though, and Felix actually agreed a contract extension at the Civitas Metropolitano before leaving. For financial reasons, that made it easier for all parties to push the loan deal through.
The situation does leave a fair bit of uncertainty when it comes to what happens at the end of the 2023/24 season though, and it remains unclear who Joao Felix’s next club will be for the 2024/25 campaign.
A flying start in Barcelona
Joao Felix’s market value has crashed in recent years following his €127m from Benfica to Atletico Madrid in 2019. However, a surge could be long overdue.
The 23 year old made his debut off the bench with a brief appearance at Osasuna a couple of days after his arrival. There were questions about whether it was a signing that Barca boss Xavi really wanted, but those doubts have been eased significantly with Felix starting every game since the international break.
He scored on his full debut for the club, a 5-0 win over Real Betis. However it was three days later against Antwerp in the Champions League where the talented winger truly showcased just what an asset he could be for Barcelona with a brilliant man of the match display that saw Felix score twice and contribute an assist:
We’ve already seen some excellent link up play between Felix and Robert Lewandowski, and the duo combined to spark a dramatic late comeback at the weekend. With Barca 2-0 down at home against Celta Vigo heading into the final ten minutes, Felix teed up the Polish striker on 81 minutes which started a stunning escape act from the Catalans who scored twice more to turn the game on its head and win 3-2.
Joao Felix’s next club – The Fati factor
Even if Joao Felix continues to do well at Barcelona, there are many potential obstacles to this deal becoming a permanent transfer next summer.
The biggest is the financial limitations under which the club continues to operate. Barcelona forked out just €3.4m on transfer fees in the window that has just gone, and will need to continue to be really careful with their spending for a number of years.
The curious nature of this situation means that the better Felix does this season, the harder it will become for Barcelona to finance a permanent transfer when his loan ends next June.
There is also the question of Ansu Fati who is currently on loan from Barcelona at Brighton. The exit of Fati, who reportedly earns around €230,000 per week, helped free up room under La Liga’s salary limitations which enabled Barca to sign Felix in the first place.
It’s hard to envisage a situation where Barcelona could afford or would want to have both Fati and Felix on their books next season. Therefore, the Catalan giants may ultimately have to come to a decision as to which of the two young wide forwards will be most useful to them in the long-term.
Fati also has the advantage of being an academy graduate, but his struggles in recent years suggest Felix currently looks the better option.
Bridges burned – Could Felix really go back to Atleti?
Joao Felix’s Atletico Madrid future is in real doubt given the events of the past few months and little should be read into his recent contract extension which in theory ties him down to Atleti until 2029.
The player made some extraordinary comments in the summer while still an Atletico Madrid player where he claimed Barcelona was his “dream”. His relationship with Diego Simeone was already past breaking point by that stage, but his comments further alienated himself at the Civitas Metropolitano and Felix was booed by Atleti fans while on the bench during a league game earlier in the season before his move.
Even the departure of Diego Simeone and the appointment of a more attacking coach may not be enough to salvage Felix’s Atleti future now. He appears to have burned all his bridges at his parent club and it may be a case of Barca or bust if Felix is to finally live up to his enormous early potential.