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Why Chelsea’s loan deal for Joao Felix is not as mad as it seems

Chelsea will hope Joao Felix can solve some of their problems while on loan from Atletico Madrid. Photo: Getty Images© Getty Images

Mike McGrathTelegraph.co.uk

Joao Felix is set to undergo a medical ahead of his £9.5million (€11m) loan move to Chelsea to help revive their season and launch a bid to reach the Premier League top four in the second half of the campaign.

The Portugal forward (23) flew to London yesterday to complete the formalities over his move from Atletico Madrid until the end of the season, with his wages of more than £100,000-a-week (€113,000) covered by his new club.

Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly, when making the initial move for Felix last month, looked at an initial six-month contract before accepting Atletico’s next stage of the deal.

The Spaniards are now considering extending Felix’s contract at Estadio Metropolitano to keep their own options open for a player they signed in a £113m deal almost four years ago.

Chelsea see the deal as worth investing in to freshen up Graham Potter’s frontline and help ease their crippling injury list. While Felix has been out of favour at Atletico, he has also shown glimpses of why they smashed their club record to sign him from Benfica in the fourth biggest transfer in history.

He departed after four goals in as many games before the World Cup. Then, after four matches for Portugal in Qatar, he scored on his return to Atletico against Elche.

Potter has loose plans to field him on the left side of a front three, although injury problems could change his thinking.

Kai Havertz was seen as a false nine in the system, with Raheem Sterling on the right, although the England forward has a short-term injury which has forced more changes.

Even before Christian Pulisic’s recent injury, another winger was wanted at the club, so Felix’s signing was seen as a necessity rather than out of desperation to bolster Potter’s attack.

He can play across the front three if required as Potter looks to find a line-up to improve on one win in the Premier League since mid-October.

Felix has added numbers to Potter’s squad, with the manager getting to grips with the increased workload on the pool of players he works with.

At Brighton, there was no European football to contend with, while at his new Cobham HQ players can hit the “red zone” with their relentless amount of games. They are out of the FA Cup but have six games before facing Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League when the competition resumes in little over a month.

Felix played for Atletico in Europe’s elite competition, but UEFA has relaxed rules on players being cup-tied and the Portuguese forward could be involved in Chelsea’s last chance of silverware for the campaign.

His girlfriend, the social-media influencer Margarida Corceiro, revealed yesterday that she was flying to London ahead of Felix’s medical to complete his loan.

Felix had also been offered to Manchester United, although the terms of the deal were too expensive to join Erik ten Hag’s team, who are in the market for loans after going over their budget for the summer and recording losses in their financial results.

They have launched a bid to take over Besiktas’ loan for Wout Weghorst from Burnley.

Arsenal were also linked with Felix but are focused on signing Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykhailo Mudryk.

​Chelsea were also sidetracked in their pursuit in the last fortnight when they negotiated for Benfica central midfielder Enzo Fernandez. They remain in the market for a midfielder, given the uncertainty of Jorginho’s future at the club.

Right-backs have also been looked at as cover for Reece James, who is also sidelined.

But they moved swiftly for Felix this week, having already signed Benoit Badiashile from Monaco to add defensive options. David Datro Fofana and Andrey Santos have also arrived as players with huge promise for the future at Chelsea.

They were also one of the most busiest teams in the summer with Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Carney Chukwuemeka, Marc Cucurella, Wesley Fofana and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arriving in high-profile deals and Denis Zakaria coming on loan as the post-Roman Abramovich era began with sweeping changes to the playing squad.


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