Rumour Has It: Man Utd given 'first option' in pursuit of Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix

By Sports Desk January 09, 2023

Negotiations are continuing as Manchester United seek to secure out-of-favour Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix on a loan deal this month.

Joao Felix became Atletico's club-record signing back in 2019 when they purchased him from Benfica for €126million, but he has failed to live up to his potential under Diego Simeone.

The Portuguese international with 28 senior caps has only started seven of the 15 LaLiga fixtures he has been available for this campaign, but has recently hit some form, scoring four goals in his past three appearances prior to Sunday's 1-0 loss to Barcelona.

Joao Felix's performances at the World Cup, coupled with his rediscovered nose for goal, have begun to rehabilitate a depressed transfer value – and he is said to be United's for the taking.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED IN THE BOX SEAT FOR JOAO FELIX

According to the Mirror, United have been given the "first option" on any Joao Felix deal, meaning they will have 48 hours to match any bid Atletico perceive to be acceptable.

United are understood to have submitted a loan offer, inclusive of a £3m (€3.4m) fee, while also covering the 23-year-old's wages, but this was rejected.

As a counter, Atletico proposed a £9.5m (€10.8m) loan fee as well as a commitment to a mandatory £70.5m (€80.2m) transfer fee at the end of the season.

The report also included information that the Spanish side are expecting a bid from Arsenal, while Fichajes add the Rojiblancos have strong interest in United youngster Alejandro Garnacho – a former member of Atletico's youth academy.

ROUND-UP

– According to the Daily Mail, Chelsea will turn to versatile RB Leipzig attacker Dani Olmo if they are unsuccessful in their pursuit of Shakhtar Donestk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk

Tottenham have locked in on Everton and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as their desired replacement for captain Hugo Lloris, per the Mirror.

– ESPN is reporting Arsenal, Chelsea, United, Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Bayern Munich and Milan are all competing for Borussia Monchengladbach striker Marcus Thuram as he enters the final six months of his contract.

– According to Sky Sports Germany, Leeds United are taking a close look at Hoffenheim forward Georginio Rutter. The Bundesliga club have confirmed there is Premier League interest, having elected to leave Rutter out of their upcoming friendly against Servette. 

– Diario Sport is reporting Arsenal and Newcastle are the two main sides monitoring Barcelona left-back Alejandro Balde, who could become available at the end of the season if he decides to not extend his contract beyond 2024.

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    Defeat for second-placed Girona and Real’s draw at Valencia opened up an opportunity for Barca but they were held to a stalemate at San Mames and sit eight points off top spot.

    Worse yet, they lost midfielders De Jong and Pedri in the first half, with the latter unable to hold back the tears as he contemplated the latest in a series of fitness setbacks.

    Ernesto Valverde’s side struggled to get time on the ball in the opening stages, with his former club Barcelona enjoying plenty of possession as Joao Cancelo established himself as the liveliest outlet on the park.

    Hanging on to the ball did not translate into obvious openings, though, with a pair of set-pieces the closest they came to an early breakthrough.

    Andreas Christensen headed over Ilkay Gundogan’s free-kick and Jules Kounde’s ambitious flick off a corner also cleared the crossbar.

    For their part, Athletic were feeding on scraps and largely unable to make use of the ball when they made it into the final third. Barca’s flow was disrupted when De Jong went over on his ankle in the 26th minute, clearly unable to shake off the pain as Fermin Lopez took his place.

    They almost grabbed an opener out of nowhere shortly after the half-hour when Cancelo tried his luck from long-range after Unai Simon’s punt up-field and caught the keeper out of position. Simon managed to back-track and get a hand on it but still needed Yeray Alvarez to clear up on the line.

    With time running down on the first half Pedri went down with nobody else involved, forced out of the match and letting his emotion get the better of him as he returned to the dugout.

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    Alex Berenguer had a couple of promising breaks but floundered when it came to an end product while 16-year-old Lamine Yamal, Pedri’s replacement, saw a penalty shout waved away at the other end.

    The hosts almost made Barca’s night even worse in added time when Dani Garcia arrived unmarked at the far post from a corner but failed to direct his header on target.

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    “He is right now this season (one of the best players in the Premier League),” the City boss said of man-of-the-match Foden.

    “He’s been the best so far. I always had the feeling he would score goals, in training sessions, always I had the feeling but now he is winning games.

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    United bowed out of Europe before Christmas so there are no distractions before Saturday lunchtime’s return to Premier League action at home to embattled Everton.

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