Transfer news - Man City eyeing move for Joao Felix, Erling Haaland top target - Inside Football
In the latest Inside Football, Dean Jones explores Manchester City's intriguing options as they seek to replace Sergio Aguero in attack this summer. The Eurosport transfer insider believes it would not be at all surprising if City make a fresh push to sign Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid, while Erling Haaland remains the top target and Lionel Messi is still on their radar.
Joao Felix of Atletico Madrid during the La Liga Santander match between Villarreal v Atletico Madrid at the Estadio de la Ceramica
Published 12/03/2021 at 11:12 GMT | Updated 12/03/2021 at 11:22 GMT
There is a growing temptation for Manchester City to make a fresh play for Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix this summer.
City currently find themselves romping towards the Premier League title, even without record goalscorer Sergio Aguero as their main man. This season they have used other players in his central position with Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Ferran Torres and Gabriel Jesus among those spending time in the role.
It has worked well. So well in fact, that you could argue City have not missed Aguero while he has been sidelined through injury and illness. However, this summer the club are wondering what they do about their forward situation. They are exploring several options.
Aguero is being pursued by Barcelona, and while City are very open to keeping him for one more year on reduced terms, the player is not expected to make a decision until the end of the season. In the meantime, City recruitment staff are working on potential plans.
Haaland top target, Messi still on radar
An obvious one is Erling Haaland, who they have a long-standing interest in and are certain to pursue if he becomes available. He’s the number one target for many clubs and City are no different.
As we mentioned in Tuesday’s Transfer Notebook, a bidding war is possible if Borussia Dortmund become open to a sale. It’s Haaland’s clinical finishing and ruthlessness that is so impressive, but if City are not able to sign him they will, of course, look at other solutions.
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Lionel Messi is another figure they have an eye on, though it is now expected he will stay at Barca following the arrival of Joan Laporta as president. Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez and his striker partner Romelu Lukaku have both been looked at too as top-tier targets.
City have been long-term admirers of Felix though, and there is a growing feeling that a window may be opening for them to test the water with at the end of this season.
City were interested in him before he left Benfica to move to the Wanda Metropolitano in 2019 for 126 million Euros. It is believed they also touched base through third-party agents a year ago, to see how things were going and whether there was any chance of him becoming available.
They have not had any joy so far, but such is the admiration for Felix they are still watching, still wondering if he might become obtainable.
Image credit: Getty Images
It has been a strange season for the 21-year-old Portugal international over in Madrid. On one hand, things are great. Atleti are top of La Liga and closing in on the title as they hold a six-point lead over Barcelona.
On the other hand, he has not quite played the role in their success this season that he might have expected.
Luis Suarez became the focal point of the side after his arrival last summer and, while Felix undoubtedly seems to have benefited through some of the in-game guidance from his fellow forward, there has not been as much game-time as he would have hoped for.
Felix has made 13 starts in La Liga, with Angel Correa seemingly thought of as a better fit for how Diego Simeone sets out his side. Correa started instead of Felix in the recent Madrid derby and there were words from the manager at the time that indicate Felix will never win a place on reputation.
“We are a team, not just one player,” Simeone told reporters. “We need everyone’s contribution for the team to function as a team so that individuals and talent can excel. Without desire, talent is not enough. We seek to have the desire to achieve our goals and the natural talent that all our players have allows us to do that. And João is a very important player for our team and he will surely do very well from here to the end.”
In total, Felix has 19 goals from 67 appearances and that is not quite the output the club had in mind when he arrived to fill the boots of Antoine Griezmann.
It is with all this in mind that Man City ponder a move. There is no doubt that in the right set-up, with the right coach, Felix can compete with Kylian Mbappe and Haaland as the outstanding player of the next decade.
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Felix a unique talent
It may simply be that in Atleti, and with Simeone, Felix has not found the right match. There are certainly figures back in Portugal who believe as much.
At City there are various roles that could suit him but, as a number nine in Pep Guardiola’s set-up, he is viewed as an ideal candidate to accommodate the other attacking players and finish off their slick moves. He’s not of the same style of Haaland, but he is equally special.
Of course, none of this will be straight forward. Felix has a contract until 2026 and there has been no suggestion yet that Atletico Madrid would sell. It would also take City to break their transfer record to get him through the door.
But, equally, a player of this level can help them maintain high standards and push the rest of the squad to new levels. And whoever eventually comes in to fill Aguero’s role is not going to come cheap.
Felix is a unique talent and if City get any hint of a sign that he could be bought, do not be surprised to see them try.