Man City can give Joao Felix what he wants amid Atletico doubts but Erling Haaland query remains – Alex Brotherton


Manchester City will look to sign an elite striker in the summer and that man is likely to be Erling Haaland. City look set to battle Real Madrid for the signature of the Borussia Dortmund forward but, according to some reports, the Spanish giants will pull out of the running.

If Pep Guardiola gets his man, then City’s search for a successor to Sergio Aguero’s throne will finally be over. However, even if they do sign Haaland, there is another young attacker who could make a rather nice addition to Guardiola’s squad.

City know all about Joao Felix, having been keen on signing him in the summer of 2019. As it happened Atletico Madrid signed the Portuguese sensation from Benfica for £113m but things haven’t exactly worked out as he or manager Diego Simeone would have hoped .

Felix’s time in Madrid has been punctuated by patches of injury and poor form, with flashes of brilliance shining through every few months. Just when he has looked to have found a rich vein of form, the brakes have been slammed on and his frustration has been obvious.

Speaking to The Athletic in a recent interview, the 22-year-old – who still has four years left on his current contract – shed some light on how he likes to play the game and what he wants to achieve.

“I always try to have as much fun as I can, of course with responsibility,” he said. “I like to make other people enjoy my football. The biggest games are the most fun to play in, where I can show my ability.” This may seem blunt but Atletico Madrid is not the obvious destination for someone looking to express himself and entertain.

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Manchester City are said to prepare to hijack Real Madrid's pursuit of Erling Haaland.
Manchester City are said to be preparing to hijack Real Madrid’s pursuit of Erling Haaland

Diego Simeone is a tactically-rigid kind of manager, synonymous with defensive tactics and disciplined attacks. The signing of Felix appeared to herald a transition to a more attacking and creative approach but, by and large, that has not come to pass.

What Atleti – whose title defense has fallen apart – resemble right now is a team playing the defensive tactics of six years ago but without the quality of defense to go with it.

If City were to make an approach for Felix, then you can be sure that he would relish the idea of ​​a move to the Etihad Stadium. Of course, Guardiola employs a strict and complex system but fundamentally it is centered around keeping the ball and attacking as much as possible.

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“My best position is as the second forward,” Felix said, “playing like a number 10, with a guy in front of me.” If he came to Manchester then Haaland could be that guy. But even at a striker-less City , Felix could fit in well.

The Blues have a team full of number 10s, it’s just that none of them actually play there. His excellent close control, dribbling ability and passing intelligence would allow Felix to adapt to Guardiola’s system.

On the other hand, would a move for Felix upset the balance of the team? There’s no denying that a move for Felix would necessitate the departure of another attacker. Given their current contractual situations, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling would be the prime candidates.

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Signing Felix could also limit the opportunities that would otherwise come the way of Cole Palmer and James McAtee, young players who have been brought up on City and Guardiola’s style. Would it be worth it?

With Felix, it seems very much a case of the right player, right club, right manager – but the wrong time. There is no doubt that Felix is ​​the archetypal Guardiola player but it would take some serious reshuffling of the pack to create space for him in a starting lineup already stacked with attacking talent.

In his interview, Felix said he wants to “win the Champions League, win a World Cup or a Euros with Portugal, and of course, the Ballon d’Or.” City would give him a better platform to do that than Atletico but whether he would be perfect for City at this moment in time is another question entirely.

Would you like to see City sign Joao Felix? Follow our City Is Ours writer Alex Brotherton on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.




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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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