Spunking £100m on Joao Felix could be the most humiliating forward signing yet by Chelsea
Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner were terrible, but Chelsea could at least claim ignorance. They know Joao Felix doesn’t create or score goals, and yet still want him?
It’s one thing to sign a forward when in desperate need of goals and assists, to then find out they’re not productive; Chelsea are industry leaders in that regard. It’s quite another to sign a forward when in desperate need of goals and assists after you’ve experienced said player’s lack of productivity first-hand.
What we’ve seen of Felix thus far should be putting Chelsea off signing him on a permanent basis, not strengthening their resolve to spunk another £100m.
Nobody can deny his talent. He’s a beautiful player to watch and if football was about pure entertainment, Chelsea should sign him come hell or high water. But close control, quick feet and half-turns count for very little when there’s no end product, and while those clippable moments of wonderful skill loom large, scratch beneath that polished surface and you’re left with a player whose impact has been insignificant.
Felix has scored two goals and is yet to register an assist in nine Chelsea appearances. His 2.79 shot-creating actions per 90mins makes him the 11th best at the club. He’s played 0.88 key passes per game, which is the 14th best. He doesn’t create opportunities and, thus far, hasn’t scored many goals.
Joao Felix does not want to go back to Atletico Madrid. pic.twitter.com/Eu8tR07T1S
— Frank Khalid OBE (@FrankKhalidUK) March 23, 2023
That could change. He’s hit the woodwork on four occasions and has often opted for the best method to finish a chance without pulling it off, which is more than can be said for Chelsea’s other misfiring forwards. But he’s never been prolific.
Perhaps the greatest benefit to having Felix in the side is his ability to draw defenders towards him to open up space for others. But the question Todd Boehly and the various Chelsea directors should be asking is: Is an ability to create space for others to assist and score goals worth £100m? And wouldn’t that money be better spent on the players that do the actual assisting and scoring?
If Chelsea have the money for Felix as well as another £100m+ for a guaranteed source of goals then you might think: fair enough. But then why not buy a more creative second striker who can also chip in more frequently than Felix?
Because although the praise of Felix has been pretty glowing this far, there’s no doubt the knives will be out if he doesn’t increase his number of goal contributions. It’s a shame that forwards are judged almost entirely in this way, but that will definitely be the case at Chelsea, who have spent ludicrous sums of money on players that have failed to create or score as expected, and have previously won titles through a machine-like efficiency to score goals, without any thought given to looking good while doing it.
A club as big as Chelsea can’t score 29 goals in 27 Premier League games – it’s unacceptable – and they therefore can’t allow space in their team for more pretty but ineffective footballers. From what we’ve seen since he joined in January, that’s Felix in a nutshell.
He may well increase his output, in which case Chelsea should indeed consider his permanent signing. But to be pondering it now makes little sense given Felix is yet to illustrate he can contribute what they need above all else.
The signings of Lukaku and Werner didn’t work out, but they weren’t deemed daft at the time. Chelsea had every reason to believe they would thrive at Stamford Bridge; any embarrassment has arrived with hindsight.
But they know exactly what they’re getting with Felix. There will be no questions about how he might adapt to English football, bond with his teammates or fit in the Chelsea system.
And while the evidence we have suggests Felix would be a better addition than the aforementioned duo, that same evidence – that the club didn’t have when signing Lukaku or Werner – suggests the Portugal international is no more the answer to Chelsea’s persistent problem than they were.
Signing an unproductive player in the hope he will become more productive, but doesn’t, would be more humiliating for Chelsea than previous forward arrivals, no matter how bad they were. At least with them Chelsea could claim ignorance.