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Joao Felix return can cure Chelsea attack as £124m transfer question lingers


oao Felix could be the man to unlock Graham Potter’s stagnant Chelsea attack when he returns from suspension this weekend.

After serving a three-game ban for his red card on his debut against Fulham, the 23-year-old is in line to start at West Ham when Saturday kicks off at noon.

Before being sent off at Craven Cottage, Felix looked good, and manager Potter will be hoping he can unlock a forward line who has managed just five goals in eight games since the World Cup.

He ranked first against Fulham for shots, dribbles and duels won in a promising display, despite being sent off in the 58th minute for a two-footed tackle on Kenny Tete.

The reckless challenge cost Chelsea and ruled out Felix for a month, just a day after joining Chelsea from Atletico Madrid on a £9.7million loan, plus his £5.3million salary .

Without him, Chelsea lost 2-1 and then managed just one win and one goal in their next three games.

Return imminent: Joao Felix will be back from suspension when Chelsea travel to West Ham

/ Chelsea F.C. via Getty Images

Other big signings have arrived, and fast Ukrainian winger Mykhailo Mudryk, skilful striker Noni Madueke and record British transfer signing Enzo Fernandez have been thrown into the mix.

Potter is showing he believes in his new signings, introducing Benoit Badiashile in a key defensive role to impressive effect, in some way justifying a record spending of over £300m in January.

Most newcomers are about building for the future, but Felix was brought in to make an immediate impact, arriving on a six-month contract with no option to buy included.

Potter included him in their Champions League squad ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Badiashile.

With just 17 Premier League games to play, including Felix in the Champions League squad to face Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 was a must, especially given his competitive experience with Atletico.

An average of just 1.05 goals per game means Chelsea are one of the less clinical sides in the Premier League this season, and Felix will help both in terms of creating chances and having an extra finisher on the ground.

Felix’s remaining games are an audition for his future as he seeks to leave Atletico, preferably staying at Stamford Bridge.

Felix’s remaining games at Chelsea are an audition for his future as he seeks to leave Atletico

His relationship with Atletico manager Diego Simeone remains strained and both sides privately blame each other for the striker’s lack of impact since joining for £113m in 2019.

Simeone’s rigid, defensive approach has worked for his teams in the past, but isn’t productive for Felix, who wants plenty of ball and freedom on the pitch.

The Atletico board hope Felix’s loan spell in England goes well to create a market for him this summer.

Reports in Spain this week suggest Atletico will demand £124m from Chelsea to make their loan deal permanent, but it is understood he is more likely to cost between £70m and £80m.

Chelsea’s hand is bolstered by an increasingly close relationship with influential super-agent Jorge Mendes, and Atletico are keen to withdraw Felix’s £250,000 weekly salary. A feasible future transfer motivates Potter to play Felix and the versatile striker to deliver right away.

If he can help Chelsea qualify for Europe, the club will have more money to play with this summer.

After spending more than £600million this season, they are taking a risk with tougher new Financial Fair Play rules from next season.

Felix could be crucial for Chelsea in the second half of the season. This time at the London stadium, however, he must manage a London derby atmosphere and avoid losing his mind.

Sports standard

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