Newcastle stick or twist | João Félix

The 23-year-old Portuguese star is said to be back on the radar screen on Tyneside as Chelsea are not guaranteed to make a permanent move for the Atlético Madrid loanee

What next for João Felix?

Once lauded as one of the top young talents anywhere in Europe, the 23-year-old Portuguese star has an uncertain future ahead of him after the current 2022-23 season that has seen him make his way to West London by way of a January loan to free-spending Chelsea.

Though his temporary move away from the Wanda Metropolitano was initially well received at Stamford Bridge, Félix has yet to come close to hitting the same level of performance that saw him star for SL Benfica as well as certain phases of his spell with Atlético Madrid.

With a permanent move to Chelsea hardly a summer guarantee, the £100m-rated forward may have another escape route from Diego Simeone’s Colchoneros; Newcastle United.

Reports from Spanish journalist Francisco José Delgado details concerns emanating from Atléti surrounding Félix’s loan spell and the notion that Chelsea is looking increasingly likely to avoid making a move for the Portuguese international, which would cause considerable issues for the La Liga giants who hoped to cash in on a player who now is viewed as a bigger issue than what he is worth.

The Viseu-born forward has found the back of the net twice in eleven Premier League appearances since his January arrival and has yet to register a single assist for the Blues, while also offering zero return in the final third across four appearances for the capital club in the Champions League.

Those numbers are worse than the paltry four goals in fourteen La Liga outings under Simeone before his winter move to Chelsea, while his five European appearances for Atléti before his loan also failed to yield a single goal.

While his talent remains considerable, Félix is clearly at a crossroads in his career. For a club in Newcastle, who were previously interested in the player before he made his move to the Bridge, there is scope to suggest that his level of ability and experience at the top level would suit Eddie Howe’s Magpies as the club edge closer to a return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign.

But would such a big-money move make sense for a Newcastle outfit that would require considerable investment in upgrades across a number of positions in the first XI?

Whether or not Atléti is capable of demanding the £100m fee they are sure to want, it is likely that they will have to accept a reduced fee if they are to add money to their coffers while erasing Félix’s wages off their books. Even if the Portuguese international was to leave for a figure somewhere between £70m-£80m, there are still far better options for Newcastle if they are to build a senior squad capable of coping with the rigors of a 2023-24 campaign that would feature commitments on four fronts.

When it comes to João Félix, Newcastle should certainly twist. But where would Howe and the club’s hierarchy turn to in order to improve the collective quality at St. James’ Park? Leicester City.

The Foxes, who currently sit nineteenth in the table and look like one of the real favorites to drop down to the Championship come May, have a number of senior figures that could collectively improve Howe’s outfit considerably, while Leicester would hardly be able to command high fees given the need to clear their own decks without access to the annual Premier League purse.

A number of positions are in need of reinforcement or upgrading if Newcastle is to once again become a perennial challenger for the top four while also giving a good account of themselves on the continent, namely center-forward, left-wing, central midfield, and left-back; something that Leicester City can certainly help with.

Regarding the left-wing birth, Allan Saint-Maximin’s future remains up in the air in the northeast of England amid poor performances and frequent injuries, while Anthony Gordon has hardly justified the £40m Newcastle shelled out for his services. This would open the club up to target a possible move for 25-year-old Harvey Barnes, who would almost certainly want a move to a top-flight club should Leicester fail to avoid the drop.

Midfield upgrades should also be a priority as well, with the Foxes boasting two players - James Maddison and Youri Tielemans - that would push the talent level at Newcastle up a notch while likely working their way into the starting XI with relative ease. The success surrounding the move for Bruno Guimarães and how vital he has been for Howe since his arrival from Olympique Lyonnais cannot be discounted, and the center of the park must be looked at for further quality upgrades.

How Newcastle intends to upgrade on the constantly injured Callum Wilson remains to be seen, though this is also a move that is necessary. Leicester, too, could help here, with both Patson Daka and Kelechi Iheanacho possibly available in the summer.

And finally, at left-back, the emergence of young Danish international Victor Kristiansen since his January arrival at Leicester from FC København may end in only a small spell at the KP Stadium, but could certainly be looked at by Newcastle as a player who could push the likes of Matt Targett and Jamal Lewis. Given his tender age (20), it would signal a smart long-term buy for a more than reasonable fee.

All told, for the possible £100m fee attached to Félix, the Magpies could sign all three of Maddison, Barnes, and Tielemans at that total price point, if not a reduced fee.

What Newcastle must avoid amidst their own considerable financial backing, is becoming like league rivals Chelsea; spending haphazardly in a bid to rush a project that hopefully will end in major honors. Shrewed decisions akin to what the club has already championed should remain at its core, and in that light, any move for João Félix must be frowned upon.

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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