Mauricio Pochettino could take charge of a weakened Chelsea team this summer after one of the club’s best stars decided he wants to play Champions League football, with Manchester United the best-placed team to snap him up.
On Monday, David Ornstein of The Athletic revealed Chelsea are finally close to ending their hunt for Frank Lampard’s long-term replacement. Pochettino, who was in charge of Chelsea’s London rivals Tottenham between 2014 and 2019, will be appointed by Todd Boehly ‘in the coming days’.
Pochettino has a big job on his hands as Chelsea look set to finish this season in mid-table. Lampard’s predecessor, Graham Potter, struggled to deal with the size of the job and the size of the squad, as Chelsea have spent lavishly on a host of new players under Boehly.
According to a recent report from the Daily Mail, Pochettino has handed Chelsea chiefs a five-man transfer wish list. The first problem he is looking to solve is in goal, with Andre Onana wanted as a replacement for Kepa Arrizabalaga.
But the tactician may lose one of Chelsea’s most important players to a fierce Premier League rival. Spanish source Cadena Cope have provided a big update on Joao Felix’s future at Stamford Bridge.
The forward is on loan at Chelsea from Atletico Madrid. While his record of three goals in 17 appearances does not sound blistering, he was one of Chelsea’s main sources of creativity during the final few months of Potter’s time in charge. If Felix were to be given another season at Chelsea under Pochettino, it is likely he would shine.
But that might not happen. Cadena Cope write that Felix ‘wants to continue in England, though not necessarily at Chelsea’. His priority is to play in the Champions League with an English team next season.
As Chelsea are languishing in 11th place, there is no way they will be able to offer Felix such an opportunity. Instead, the report notes how Felix is intrigued by the prospect of playing at Manchester City, Arsenal, Newcastle or Man Utd, the teams who are expected to qualify for the Champions League.
Chelsea star considers shock Man Utd move
Out of these, it is Man Utd who are frontrunners to sign Felix. They were linked with the Portugal star before his Chelsea switch and have been keeping tabs on him ever since.
Plus, there have been a few instances where Erik ten Hag has been tipped to hijack Chelsea’s permanent signing of Felix.
Man Utd officials will have been impressed by some of Felix’s performances in England, even if he has not exactly lit the Premier League up. If he was playing in a more stable and in-form team, like Man Utd, then he would be able to perform better.
The one stumbling block for Man Utd is Atleti’s asking price. They have repeatedly told Chelsea they will only do business at €100million (£88m).
Chelsea do not want to pay such a fee outright and have therefore been looking at other ways they can afford the 23-year-old. One solution that has been talked up is including Marc Cucurella and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a deal for Felix.
Man Utd could steal this strategy and offer a couple of unwanted stars to Atleti to drive Felix’s £88m fee down.