LONDON – Portuguese striker Joao Félix joined Chelsea on loan from Atletico Madrid on Wednesday in a deal that will keep him at the Premier League club until the end of the season.
Felix also renewed his contract with Atlético for another year, until June 2027.
“Chelsea are one of the great teams in the world and I look forward to helping the team achieve their goals, so I’m really, really happy to be here and really excited to be playing at Stamford Bridge,” he said.
Félix became the third most expensive player of all time when Atlético triggered the €126m ($140m) release clause in his 2019 contract to sign him from Benfica.
Felix, 23, is no longer a guaranteed starter under manager Diego Simeone but Atlético still moved to extend his existing contract.
“From Atlético de Madrid, we wish João Félix every success in this new professional stage”, says the Spanish club in a statement.
Felix is hoping to rediscover his best form at Chelsea, who have struggled to find inspiration up front after a poor run of recent results has left manager Graham Potter under pressure.
Chelsea have already signed four players in January – Ivory Coast striker David Datro Fofana, Brazilian midfielder Andrey Santos and French defender Benoît Badiashile all joined this month – but Felix is by far the most outstanding.
Félix adds to the vast array of attacking options available to Potter, fitness permitting, with the Portugal international – who played in four of the country’s five World Cup matches in Qatar – competing with Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic, Pierre -Emerick Aubameyang, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech for a spot in the front line.
Félix never fully lived up to the expectations that came with his high-profile move in 2019 to replace Antoine Griezmann, who had left Atlético for Barcelona. Then 19 years old, Félix was considered by many in Portugal to be the successor to Cristiano Ronaldo and Atlético fans expected him to become one of the team’s biggest stars.
His lackluster first season was mostly attributed to him needing more time to adjust to playing in a major league. He won the Spanish league title with Atlético the following season, despite struggling with injuries and not playing a key role in their title campaign. Since then he has shown spurts of greatness but has not consistently played at the level fans have come to expect to see from him.
His departure comes amid reports that he was increasingly at odds with Simeone, who has repeatedly denied having any issues with the player.