Man Utd have “moved on to other targets” after ruling out a January move for Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix, according to a reliable Sky Sports pundit.
This leaves the path clear for Arsenal to seal a deal, who remain the most likely team to sign the Portugal international as Mikel Arteta eyes attacking reinforcements.
United are now looking elsewhere for a new centre-forward, as Erik ten Hag looks to finally find a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo who left the club by mutual consent in November.
As reported by TEAMtalk, United were interested in a loan deal for Felix. However, Atletico demanded a total package worth €21m (approx. £18.5m). That equates to a loan fee of around £13.2m along with the cost of Felix’s wages – roughly £5.3m – for just six months.
Due to their hefty price tag for a temporary deal, the Red Devils are now pulling out of the race for the Rojiblancos player.
United are currently fourth in the table, thanks to some fine form from Marcus Rashford, who in 17 Premier League appearances has scored seven goals and created three.
However, the likes of Jadon Sancho, Antony and Anthony Martial have so far struggled to find consistent goal-scoring scoring form.
Furthermore, Anthony Elanga has been heavily linked with a potential move to Everton, so there is a clear need for Ten Hag to add attacking firepower, but it seems Felix won’t be the answer.
Loan deal for Felix in excess of Man Utd budget
This was revealed by Sky pundit Dharmesh Sheth, who said: “It is no secret Man Utd’s priority is to bring in a number nine.
“A long-term number nine is what Erik ten Hag is after, but I don’t think they will necessarily get that in January, simply because of budgets and unless a long-term target becomes available.
“When you are looking at players that United are looking at they are normally with big clubs, they are normally in the Champions League and clubs are normally very reluctant to allow players to go mid-season.
“If they do the price would be much higher than if it would be in the summer.
“Therefore, I think United are looking at the loan market. The idea of Joao Felix works because it would be a loan deal but as of Monday, the information I’m getting is that United had moved on to other targets.
“I was told that a deal for Joao Felix was not on the agenda at all based on the terms quoted. There were no live negotiations.
“That of course can change if the figures quoted come down and the £3.5m being reported can be agreed upon. However, that is a big reduction from what Atletico are after, but the Spanish club’s terms are well in access of what United’s transfer budget is for this month.”
As a result, Ten Hag will have to look elsewhere for more affordable options, with the Dutch boss now eyeing an exciting attacker from his former club Ajax as an alternative.
Arsenal only serious candidate to sign Felix this month
As reported by TEAMtalk, Arsenal are now the big favourites to sign Felix, with Mikel Arteta a huge fan of the attacker.
The Gunners’ January strategy is understood to be biding their time ahead of a move in the latter stages of the window. At that stage, they hope Atletico will get desperate and lower their demands.
They may also be helped by the fact that the Gunners have a ‘secret weapon’ in negotiations thanks to Thomas Partey being good friends with the 23-year-old following their time playing at Atletico together.
Despite being deemed surplus to requirements by Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, Felix has scored 34 goals in 130 appearances for the Rojiblancos, also contributing 18 assists, giving him an impressive average of 0.39 goal contributions per match.
Arsenal currently sit eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table )prior to Man City’s clash with Chelsea on Thursday) after enjoying a fantastic first half of the season.
But with Gabriel Jesus picking up an injury that could rule him out for up to 12 weeks, Arteta is in need of attacking reinforcements.
Failing to unlock Newcastle’s stern defence on Wednesday was the first indication of how much Jesus’ absence up front could be felt.