Todd Boehly hasn’t been slow to open his chequebook since becoming co-owner of Chelsea.
Having forked out significant fees for the likes of Wesley Fofana, Raheem Sterling, Marc Cucurella, Kalidou Koulbaly and others, the American businessman has now authorised a £9million outlay to acquire Joao Felix’s services for just five months.
The Blues’ confirmed the arrival of the Portugal international on loan from Atletico Madrid yesterday and Dream Team gaffers can now recruit him for £4million if they so desire.
Felix’s natural talent is undeniable but the move has prompted those who were already sceptical of Boehly’s transfer strategy to double their concerns.
At present, it’s a dysfunctional midfield and the absence of a sharp No9 that seem to be hindering Graham Potter’s side.
Felix, while an exciting addition, doesn’t really address either of those problems.
The 23-year-old plays best as a second striker where he can work off a dynamic No9 and exhibit his playmaking as well as his eye for goal.
This was evidenced recently on the grandest stage of them when he was one of Portugal’s better players in Qatar, particularly when he combined with Goncalo Ramos.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looking lethargic, Chelsea don’t have a specialist in-form striker for Felix to bounce off from the get-go.
In fact, the Portuguese forward likes to operate in the same areas as those preferred by Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic – granted the latter pair are nursing injuries but the point is Felix is not somebody who can come in and plug a hole.
While we’re on the subject, it’s worth noting that Christopher Nkunku, bound for Stamford Bridge in the summer, is also more of a second striker than an out-and-out front man.
Of course, the nature of Felix’s profile and role is a separate conversation to one regarding his potential to have a positive impact.
If he comes in and proves to be more inventive and creative than his positional arrivals then he will surely improve the Blues’ performances.
Truth be told, Felix’s play style jars with Diego Simeone’s approach and four years on from his big-money transfer from Benfica it’s probably fair to say that Atletico has been a bad fit for him – half his La Liga appearances this term have come as a substitute.
He’s a forward who values freedom, expressionism and unpredictability while Atleti’s grizzled coach believes in hard work, identifiable structures, and plenty of dark arts.
Simeone’s approach has been justified many times over – he delivered a league title as recently as 2020/21 – but there can’t have been many attack-minded players who have enjoyed their football under his watch and there’s a sense that Felix hasn’t been utilised to his full potential..
In theory, Potter’s tactics should be more compatible with how the youngster sees the game, at least those we saw during his Brighton tenure.
The English tactician hasn’t yet implemented the same easy-on-the-eye approach in west London but he’s surely working towards a more aesthetic brand of possession – Felix will try unlock defences and won’t settle for many slow sideways passes.
Still, the Stamford Bridge faithful should be aware that their new recruit operates in the space between their two problem areas, though that’s not to say he’s an unnecessary luxury.
It will be interesting to see how Potter uses Felix, with Sterling sidelined it may be that the youngster is deployed from the left wing though he is not inclined to provide constant width.
Or Felix may be thrust straight in as a centre-forward, a role he’s occupied plenty of times in the past, but he’s not a traditional penalty box poacher so Chelsea may run into similar issues they’ve experienced when Havertz has led the line.
Either way, Dream Team bosses would probably be wise to wait and see how Felix is integrated before making a decision but he’s one to monitor at the very least.