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Joao Felix to Liverpool? Transfer news abounds but Atleti pours cold water

Inspired by the Jurgen Klopp-Mikel Arteta dust-up during last month's showdown between Liverpool and Arsenal, Rog and Davo take a look back at the history of Premier League managers getting into it on the sideline.

Joao Felix’s future at age 22 is looking quite a bit like Joao Felix at age 19: Full of promise and promising a big price tag.

The Portuguese player’s limited usage under demanding Diego Simeone, who has in the past implored more “desire” from the youngster, has seen a lowered price tag floated and plenty of mooted Premier League interest.

[ MORE: Liverpool runs past Newcastle ]

The name most often linked is Liverpool, and perhaps Jurgen Klopp can pull more out of Felix if Simeone is not going to get the appropriate desire out of the player.

That, however, is a pretty big “perhaps” given Simeone and Klopp are not disparate personalities (Klopp’s been more public with his arms around players, but Simeone is well-liked in training rooms, too). That said, Diogo Jota is a countryman who could help Felix adjust to the PL...

So what’s the scoop?

Joao Felix to Liverpool

Reports linking Joao Felix to Liverpool are nothing new, but Atletico Madrid is pouring cold water on the Reds’ hopes of signing the Portuguese wonderboy.

Well, parts of Atletico Madrid.

Atleti boss Diego Simeone has not returned Joao Felix to regular starter status after a cold patch this season and would seemingly welcome what could return to the club for an exciting, young, expensive player.

But president Enrique Cerezo says that Felix is not going anywhere and compared the club’s feelings on the player to recently-retired Sergio Aguero.

“He is a magnificent player. I think he does not want to go. For us he is non-transferable. We bet on him as in his day we bet with Agüero.”

Quite a difference of opinion between two very important figures in Atleti’s hierarchy.

Simeone called Felix an “important player of the team” but everything is possible for the player’s future after publicly imploring the 22-year-old forward to repeat his strong showing from a derby loss to Real Madrid.

Real Madrid CF v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Santander

Joao Felix of Atletico Madrid and Daniel Carvajal of Real Madrid compete for the ball during the La Liga Santander match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 12, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Is Joao Felix living up to the hype?

The $130-plus million price tag Atleti needed to win Felix’s signature over a host of suitors has put the youngster under the microscope since his move from Benfica in 2019.

Felix has been moved around the Atleti formation this year and has a goal and two assists in 13 appearances, getting limited minutes due to a pair of injuries.

The young star, however, is first in expected assists per 90 minutes for Atleti in La Liga play, second in shots per 90 minutes, and also has a rich contract that runs through the 2025-26 season.

Felix has delivered goals in each of his first two seasons at Atleti after scoring 15 with 10 assists in his final league season at Benfica.

How would he fit at Liverpool? Or anywhere?

In a league that could well see plenty of center forward movement in January, Felix could fetch big dollars even with a makeweight attached from PL suitors.

The reported price tag of $80 million would see Atleti sell low relative to his arrival cost, but the Madrid side also has received 2.5 seasons of service from the still-young forward.

Diogo Jota is in good form and Roberto Firmino, too, so it’s difficult to see Liverpool splashing big money to land a player it could not use in the Champions League until last season.

The same is true for Man City and Manchester United, but what about Arsenal?

Alexandre Lacazette has often been linked with Atleti and the Gunners look set to offload Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sooner rather than later. Would Mikel Arteta trust the 22-year-old Felix to adjust to the PL and lead the line for a half-season? He fits the Arsenal transfer profile.

Otherwise it feels likely that we’re talking about a summer transfer and then all bets are off as to whether Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Ralf Rangnick, or another boss will push for the Portuguese phenom.

Follow @NicholasMendola