Ten Hag given renewed hope as reasons behind Man Utd target’s push for winter exit emerge

Joao Felix Atletico Madrid 2022 TEAMtalk1

Manchester United may move for star forward Joao Felix early next year after reports he is eager to leave Atletico Madrid.

The 22-year-old joined Los Colchoneros in July 2019 when they paid Benfica £113m for his signature. That figure remains the fourth highest transfer fee and much was expected of the Portugal interantional. However, he has failed to hit the expected heights and been tipped to leave despite inking a seven-year deal.

Capable of playing multiple attacking positions, Felix scored 20 goals from 43 appearances in one season for Benfica. But he has found the net on just 29 occasions from 123 outings with the Spanish club.

Manager Diego Simeone handed him 21 starts among 27 LaLiga appearances in 2019-2020.

A mixture of injuries plus a dip in form saw his starts reduced to only 14 the following campaign. And he was given the nod just 13 times in the league last term.

He has seen plenty of action in the Champions League but things now appear to have come to a head.

The man with 23 international caps has made five league starts and seven in all competitions. But he has completed 90 minutes just three times and not since early September.

He has failed to score in 2022-2023 and registered only three assists. The Viseu-born ace played no part in Atletico’s 0-0 Champions League draw with Club Bruges on October 12.

That was despite being asked to warm up on three separate occasions.

Felix and Simeone have history

Atletico currently sit third in the Spanish top-flight standings, six points adrift of table-topping Real Madrid.

However, they have struggled in Europe and are third in Group B and with work to do to advance to the knockout stage.

They need their best players to be at the top of their game. But it is open to question as to whether Felix is now viewed in that category.

He is said to have fallen out with his manager before and the report in A Bola adds that relationship is now ‘irreparable’.

The skilful playmaker would reportedly rather leave in January than continue to warm the bench. And that is despite being part of the side that won the 2020-2021 LaLiga title.

Man Utd set to revisit Felix chase

There is no question that a number of clubs would love to have Felix on their books. He has not become a bad player and a change of scenery may be all that is needed to unlock his undoubted potential.

Manchester United are said to have looked into the possibility of signing him during the summer transfer window. Back in September, he made it clear he had not heard anything from the Red Devils during the off-season.

And the former Porto youth star went as far as praising Simeone for the help he had given in developing the youngster’s career.

It seems unlikely that he would repeat those sentiments at present after falling down the pecking order.

Whether speculation about United’s overtures towards Felix is true is unknown. But, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s future very much up in the air, they may be looking for a replacement in the winter window.

Felix still has more than three-and-a-half years of his contract remaining and would not come cheap. But there is no suggestion that the Metropolitano Stadium outfit would be looking for anything like the fee they paid three years ago.

Real are also known to be keen on the Portuguese. But a move across the city would not go down well with fans.

Erik ten Hag is working hard to try and get the best out of his current crop of stars.

Ronaldo has mostly been on the bench this season but may start to see more game time after opening his goal account against Everton. It remains to be seen if Felix is indeed the man to fill his boots if he does opt to jump ship.

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