Bad news for Chelsea as loanee Joao Felix reveals ‘important’ factor in deciding future

Jason Soutar
Joao Felix smiles during a press conference

Chelsea loanee Joao Felix has admitted that Champions League qualification will be “important” in deciding his future at the end of the season.

In January, the Blues paid a £9.7million loan fee to sign Felix from Atletico Madrid until the end of 2022-23.

This was seen as a hefty price to pay for a player who would only spend six months at the club.

Felix showed what he is all about on his debut, running the show against Fulham before his Atletico Madrid mentality came out and he was shown a straight red card and suspended for three matches as a result.

He has impressed in a pretty poor Chelsea side and fans are hoping to see his move become permanent in the summer.

However, the Portuguese international signed a contract extension with Atletico before completing his temporary switch to the Blues, meaning the La Liga side will likely ask for a humungous transfer fee to let him leave.

Signed for £113m from Benfica in July 2019, Atletico are reportedly reluctant to make a loss should he depart.

The only thing that hints Felix could leave the Spanish side is his poor relationship with manager Diego Simeone.

They apparently do not see eye to eye, though the player’s recent contract extension does suggest that Simeone will not be in charge next season.

It already looks unlikely that Chelsea will be unable to sign Felix on a permanent basis this summer, and the player has now admitted that Champions League football will play a big part in his future plans.

The Blues are currently 10th in the Premier League, 11 points off the top four, and have scored fewer goals than every single team above them and the same or less than four of the sides in the bottom half.

So it is safe to say that it will be very difficult for Graham Potter to guide his side into Europe’s premier competition.

Another route into the Champions League is by winning the competition this season.

Chelsea are 1-0 down on aggregate to Borussia Dortmund and host the German side in their last-16 second leg on Tuesday.

“Yeah, playing in the Champions League is always different,” Felix said on Monday. “It’s a competition that everyone wants to play.

“But now I’m focused on this Champions League, on the game. We have a lot of games yet to try to reach the Champions League in the league.

“It’s not over. But, yeah, playing in the Champions League is an important decision, but the future no one knows, so let’s see what happens and then we’ll see.”

There is some hope, however, as Felix admitted: “Chelsea is a team who likes to attack, who likes to have the ball, who likes to dominate the game, so that’s the game I like to play.

“I feel very free to play here, to play as I like. I’m loving it.

“When I left Atletico, I thought it was good for me and for them. So I think it was the perfect deal.

“So I think it’s important for me, this loan, and I’m very happy to play here.”

READ MORE: A Chelsea win buys Potter some time but this one won’t change any minds

Meanwhile, Potter admitted on Monday that he will not rush N’Golo Kante back after the French midfielder returned to full training following a lengthy hamstring injury.

Kante has been unavailable to Potter since his appointment in September, and had surgery in October on the injury he sustained during Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham seven months ago.

Ahead of the visit of Dortmund, Potter described how Kante’s progress and imminent return have lifted the rest of the squad.

“N’Golo is a complex one,” he said. “He’s been a long time out. There’s back in full training, but then it’s ‘how do you get him back to speed to play Champions League or Premier League football?’.

“He needs time with the group, a bit of time in full training, then we need time to build his minutes up.

“He won’t be able to play 90 minutes any time soon but the fact he’s training, and with us and getting closer is exciting for everybody.”

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