Premier League • England

Major climbdown tees up £80m Chelsea transfer that’ll give Potter new version of Hazard and Zola

Chelsea manager Graham Potter

A vastly reduced price tag has given Chelsea the perfect chance to bring an attacker drawing comparisons to club icons Gianfranco Zola and Eden Hazard to Stamford Bridge, per a report.

The Blues have been world football’s biggest spenders over the last two transfer windows, though a handful of issues remain unsolved.

Fabrizio Romano recently confirmed signing a new number six is among the club’s top priorities this summer. N’Golo Kante is poised to sign a contract extension, though now aged 31 and increasingly injury-prone, a more reliable partner for Enzo Fernandez is required.

Sky Germany’s Florian Plettenberg stressed Chelsea will go all-out for priority Arsenal target, Declan Rice. The Blues may well prove Arsenal’s worst nightmare in the market once again after hijacking their move for Mykhailo Mudryk in January.

Elsewhere, a new centre-forward is wanted with Kai Havertz’s future role as the No 9 uncertain. Joao Felix has occasionally played up top under Graham Potter, though only arrived on loan – not outright – from Atletico Madrid two months ago.

Recent reports claimed Chelsea and Todd Boehly are desperate to bring the 23-year-old back on board at season’s end. Despite only notching one goal so far, Felix has hit the woodwork three times and has looked a class above most Premier League attackers.

He’s wasted no time adapting to the English top flight, though despite Chelsea’s concrete interest, a move will hinge on Atletico Madrid.

Atletico signed Felix for a monstrous £113m back in 2019. Given Felix is only 23-years-old, they were understood to be hopeful of recouping most if not all of that fee in the event they do cash in.

But according to a fresh update from the Athletic, a major climbdown has seen Atletico drop their demands to £80m – a figure that is sure to rouse Chelsea’s interest.

EXCLUSIVE: Guardiola gunning for Chelsea ace to replace fallen star who’ll never play for Man City again

Felix can be next Zola or Hazard

The outlet’s Simon Johnson reports his understanding is Atletico ‘will be prepared to accept a figure in the region of £80m’ for the Portuguese.

Part of the reason they’re willing to incur a sizeable loss is the fact Felix’s relationship with Atletico boss Diego Simeone is in shambles. Indeed, the outlet rather amusingly term it to be ‘Thomas Tuchel-Romelu Lukaku levels of broken’.

It’s claimed Felix may even be prepared to accept a decrease on his current £200,000-a-week wages to help seal his Atletico exit. The player has also made it clear to those around him how happy he is in west London.

Of course, Chelsea cannot keep sanctioning massive outlays each window without eventually falling foul of Financial Fair Play.

A major sale or two could be required to free up funds for Felix. On that front, a bombshell update on the future of Mason Mount has strongly suggested he’ll be among those leaving this summer. Man Utd, Liverpool or Newcastle could be his next stop.

Simon Johnson claims Felix’s class and trickery puts him in the same category as Chelsea greats Gianfranco Zola and Eden Hazard.

While that’s clearly an enormous claim to make, the only way Felix will be able to justify it is by signing for the club outright and showing what he’s made of year after year.

Given Atletico have dropped their demands, Felix may well get that opportunity. His arrival would also offset the need to sign a new centre-forward if Graham Potter is content with fielding either Felix or Havertz as a false nine.