'The artist has arrived': Misfiring Chelsea bank on Joao Felix to spark revival

Blues manager Graham Potter says Atletico Madrid forward's arrival on loan 'gives everyone a lift' at club

Atletico Madrid's Portuguese forward Joao Felix has joined Chelsea on loan for the rest of the season. AFP
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Chelsea manager Graham Potter hailed new signing Joao Felix as a player who could "make a difference" after the Atletico Madrid forward joined the struggling Premier League club on loan on Wednesday.

The Portugal international signed for the injury-hit Blues until the end of the season for a reported fee of $12 million as Potter seeks to narrow the gap on the top four, which is already 10 points.

Chelsea tweeted "the artist has arrived" as they welcomed the 23-year-old, who had also been linked with Arsenal and Manchester United.

"Chelsea is one of the great teams in the world and I hope to help the team reach their objectives, so I am very, very happy to be here and very excited to play at Stamford Bridge," Felix said in a club statement.

Potter said Felix would boost his side's attacking options – Chelsea have scored just 20 goals in the Premier League, less than half of Manchester City's tally.

"He's a quality player. He can make a difference in the final third of the pitch," Potter said.

"He's young but has still had a lot of really good experience. He's just a quality player that gives everyone a lift.

"We've been aware of him for a while – these kinds of things don't happen quickly. The injuries have sharpened the focus a little bit."

Chelsea are waiting to hear whether Felix was registered in time to feature against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Thursday.

Felix joined Atletico from Benfica in 2019 for €126 million and has scored 34 goals in 131 appearances for the club, winning La Liga in 2021.

He also featured in Portugal's run to the World Cup quarter-finals in Qatar last month, scoring in the 3-2 victory against Ghana in the group stage.

Also on Wednesday, Atletico confirmed that Felix had extended his contract with the Spanish club for one more season, until June 2027.

"From Atletico Madrid we wish Joao Felix every success in this new professional stage," the Spanish club said in a statement.

Atletico chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin last month described the forward as a "world-class talent" but said a number of factors, including his troubled relationship with the club's manager Diego Simeone, meant they should look at other options.

"Personally, I would love him to continue but I think that right now the player has other ideas," he said.

Felix becomes Chelsea's fourth signing of the January transfer window after the arrivals of Benoit Badiashile, David Datro Fofana and Andrey Santos.

Potter said there was there was still time for Chelsea to do more business if the right players became available.

"There's time [for more signings]," he said. "Whether we'll find the right players or not is another thing.

"You have to look in this window to make the right decisions, but it's complicated. We're happy with what we've done so far."

Fulham manager Marco Silva has “no doubts” over Chelsea’s high quality despite their recent poor form ahead of Thursday’s derby at Craven Cottage.

Silva’s side head into the match seventh in the table having won all three Premier League games since action resumed in December following the World Cup, and having already equalled the points tally from their last top-flight campaign (28), when they were relegated under Scott Parker in 2020-21.

“Even with some injuries they are always Chelsea,” the Portuguese said. “And I think it is clear that two seasons ago they won the Champions League, this season they spent more than £300 million, we cannot talk about all these things.

“I think it is clear the high quality they have in their squad, for me there are no doubts about it. It’s more for Potter to decide who will be in the XI and I will do the same with my squad.”

Updated: January 11, 2023, 5:33 PM