FC Barcelona are among the frontrunners to capture Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund in the summer. Yet listening to the press in Norway and the UK would have you believe that Manchester City have pulled out ahead and are currently leading the way while their endless riches allow them to offer the player, his agent Mino Raiola and ex-City defender father Alfe-Inge mammoth signing-on fees and commissions.
This forces Barca to look elsewhere and devise a Plan B, with names such as Robert Lewandowski, Alexander Isak and Lautaro Martinez apparently forming part of their shortlist.
According to Goal on Saturday, though, Atletico Madrid’s €126mn ($137.5mn) wonderkid Joao Felix joins them there after recovering his form and scoring important goals as of late such as a bullet header against Manchester United in the Champions League last 16 first leg and the opener against Cadiz in La Liga last night.
Barca could perhaps reduce Felix’s asking fee by knocking some money off what Atleti have to pay them to make Antoine Griezmann’s loan move permanent in the summer. Barca reportedly know that Diego Simeone’s men will be reluctant to sell the 22-year-old tipped as a next generation star akin to the likes of Haaland and Kylian Mbappe.
But with the Blaugrana pipping them to fourth place under Xavi Hernandez, however, defending Spanish top flight champions Atleti are in a dogfight for Champion League football next season given the unlikelihood of winning the competition still manned by the likes of City, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
Should they fail to seal qualification for Europe’s premier club competition, Atleti might be forced to listen to offers for a prodigy that despite his undoubted potential has never been able to fit his coach’s style of play.
The fact that the Portugal international is signed to a seven-year contract means he is tied down until 2026 and cannot talk to other clubs as per a free transfer for almost a full four terms. But Felix being represented by superagent Jorge Mendes, with whom Barca have a good relationship, potentially opens the lines of communication between the club and the forward’s representitive.