The João Félix soap opera reached a new level on Tuesday night, as the player confirmed to Fabrizio Romano his intention to join FC Barcelona this summer.
EXCLUSIVE — João Félix statement on his future: “I’d love to play for Barça”.— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 18, 2023
◉ “Barcelona has always been my first choice and I’d love to join Barça”.
◉ “It was always my dream since I was a kid”.
◉ “If it happens, it will be a dream come true for me”. pic.twitter.com/3zg9BiCDgO
The shocking quotes are the newest and most significant developments yet in João’s war with Atlético Madrid. The club’s record signing is determined to leave for good this summer, following the breakdown in his relationship with Diego Simeone and a loan spell at Chelsea so disappointing that the English club refused to purchase him.
João, who has a contract to 2027, has been training with Atlético since preseason preparations began 10 days ago. But awkward scenes have abounded since the 23-year-old’s return from London, and no move has materialized yet for the disgruntled forward. Now he is trying to engineer one himself, to a club of his choice.
Barcelona have admired João for years. Former president Josep María Bartomeu attempted to acquire the Portuguese in 2020, while current president Joan Laporta spoke glowingly of João in an interview last year. While financial problems haven’t scared off the Blaugrana before, signing João would be difficult to pull off for Laporta and director of football Mateu Alemany.
Despite Laporta’s strong connection with João’s agent Jorge Mendes, Atlético will require at least €55 million for a permanent transfer. That amount is equivalent to how much Atleti still have to amortize for João’s signing from Benfica in 2019, and the reason he signed a seven-year contract in the first place.
These declarations from João Félix are indefensible, and they show a galling level of disrespect for Atlético. The less said about them, the better. All parties — the club, its head coach, its €126 million forward, and his agent Mendes — want the same outcome, but no other club has stepped up to entice Atlético financially or João sportingly.
João is clearly trying to speed the process along with these explosive and unprofessional remarks, but while he may want to take this opportunity to move to his “dream club,” said club is having yet more difficulties ensuring its new signings are able to play when the season kicks off next month. Craftily completing this transfer through GestiFute is one thing — tangling with LaLiga over its player registration rules is another.
There’s more drama and uncertainty ahead here, folks. But what is certain is that João just burned whatever bridge he had left standing with Simeone and the club.