Arsenal Lead Felix Transfer Race
Arsenal have moved to the top of the queue for Portugal‘s Qatar 2022 World Cup star forward Joao Felix, the Mirror reports.
Aston Villa had emerged as a surprise potential destination for the 23-year-old, who joined Atletico Madrid for a club-record £113million in 2019.
Felix has been tipped to leave the Spanish capital in January after falling out of favour with manager Diego Simeone, but is thought to have no intention of moving to Villa Park despite the arrival of Unai Emery as manager.
Felix’s agent, Jorge Mendes, was reportedly involved in Emery’s return to the Premier League, prompting speculation he was pushing to also send the Portugal forward to the Midlands. However, as Felix has other plans, league-leaders Arsenal appear to have stolen a march.
According to Spanish outlet Marca (via Sport Witness ), Mendes has ‘accelerated’ the search for a new club for his client. Ahead of the World Cup quarter-finals, Felix claimed to be “100 per cent focused” on his country’s World Cup campaignamid transfer rumours, but their elimination at the hands of Morocco has seen that obstacle removed.
Arsenal are reported to have taken the lead due to their lofty league position. Mikel Arteta’s side sit five points clear at the top of the table but could be in the market for attacking reinforcements after Gabriel Jesus suffered an injury at the World Cup which will keep him out until the new year.
While a Villa move looks to be off the table, Arsenal aren’t out there on their own. Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester United remain in the mix, with the latter after new blood following the termination of Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract.
Arteta noted there were “things we can try” in terms of finding a solution to the Jesus injury within Arsenal’s squad. Eddie Nketiah started and scored in a midseason friendly victory over Lyon, while some have suggested Emile Smith Rowe – on the road back from injury himself – might be used as a false nine
“We look at the squad and see what the options we have our with the players we have available,” Arteta said. “There are things we can try, we have the need to do so.”
Miguel Angel Gil Marin, Atletico Madrid’s president, had earlier given hope to Felix’s potential suitors with an update on the forward’s future. “I think he is a top, world-class player, but because of the relationship with the coach, his playing time, his motivation… it’d be reasonable to analyse an option for him to depart if one arrives,” he told TVE.
“It’s reasonable to think that he might leave, although I’d love him to stay. But, that’s not the player’s plan.”
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