Barcelona signed Joao Felix – alongside his Portuguese compatriot Joao Cancelo – on deadline day of the summer transfer window after weeks of intense speculation.
Felix’s future at Atletico Madrid was hanging in the balance after falling out of favour with manager Diego Simeone.
Barca were never in the frame until he revealed that he dreamt about playing for the Catalan giants.
Club president Joan Laporta – who is a huge admirer of the Portuguese forward – stepped up the efforts to land Felix, although head coach Xavi didn’t favour his arrival.
Aware of their financial limitations and the conflicts with Financial Fair Play, Barca bided their time and worked on several sales to facilitate Felix’s arrival.
The move wouldn’t have been possible without the former Benfica star’s personal efforts, as he accepted a massive wage cut to complete his season-long move to Barca.
Felix has landed in Barcelona with the hopes of leaving behind his troubled past and breathing a new life into his career.
With Ansu Fati and Ez Abde leaving, Felix is expected to play a prominent role this season. Here are the ways Xavi can unlock his potential.
Felix – a rough diamond with a high ceiling
It is quite a surprise how a player of Felix’s talent has been unable to find his feet for around four years at the highest level.
His sensational breakthrough at Benfica raised enormous expectations about where his future would lie, and Atletico forked out a club-record fee for his signing.
As his spell at the Spanish capital club progressed, it became clear that the 23-year-old was a mismatch for Los Rojiblancos.
Failing to gain a regular role coupled with a fragile relationship with Simeone, Felix opted for greener pastures and joined Chelsea on loan at the start of this year.
His time in the Premier League coincided with the Blues’ heavy decline, and his efforts to rejuvenate his career ended in vain.
While it raises the doubt whether Felix may not be worth the hype, some of his performances have proved otherwise.
He nagged nine goals and three assists for Atletico and Chelsea last term – a decent record for a player who has struggled to play regularly.
His statistics, especially the passing and creative output, belong to the elite list meaning he is not as bad as he is portrayed.
Can Felix revive his fortunes at Barca? Xavi holds the key
Barca had been notorious for their policy of splurging too much on players who flopped, such as Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho.
However, that has changed since the arrival of Xavi, who holds superior power in the transfer dealings.
His handpicked targets, including Robert Lewandowski, Andreas Christensen and Jules Kounde, Ilkay Gundogan and Oriol Romeu, have proved productive.
His trust in academy players, who form the core of the first team, has improved Barca’s fortunes.
Although Felix wasn’t Xavi’s first-choice target, the Spanish legend can still help the Portuguese youngster revive his career, as he previously did with Ousmane Dembele.
Xavi could deploy him on the left wing while Robert Lewandowski and Lamine Yamaal complete the front three.
A heavily ball-oriented player who loves to drop off, Felix can help other players make runs behind the opponent’s defence.
His exquisite ball-carrying and dribbling qualities will see him take on the defenders at will, while his ball-striking ability is one of his most underrated weapons.
Felix can also play as a false nine and a second striker, and his flexibility will help Xavi this season.
His confidence level could be questionable, but he went all out to secure a move to Barca and will be eager to make a name for himself.
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