As rumours of a potential summer transfer continue to gather pace, Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix was slated by his own supporters in the club's opening league fixture
A certain section of fans at the Metropolitano have made it clear they want Joao Felix out of Atletico Madrid.
The Portuguese talent was once hailed as the second coming of Cristiano Ronaldo but has struggled to meet expectations in Spain. That same struggle saw Felix spend the second half of last season on loan at Chelsea, where he scored four goals in 16 appearances and was sent off in his Premier League debut against Fulham.
Signed from Benfica in 2019 for a club-record sum of £113million, the 23-year-old is now back in Spain's capital and was an unused substitute in Monday's season-opening win over Granada. Memphis Depay and Marcos Llorente each got on the score sheet, along with another Chelsea alumnus in Alvaro Morata.
It appears Felix has slipped down the pecking order with manager Diego Simeone, and plenty of fans made it clear he's also not in their good books. That's after a portion of home supporters could be heard chanting at the forward prior to kick-off: "That Portuguese, what a son of a b***h he is!"
Felix has spoken positively of his short-term stay at Chelsea and said earlier in the year that he 'really liked' being at Stamford Bridge, adding he was unsure of his future. A potential swap with Barcelona involving winger Ansu Fati has been mooted more recently in Spanish media reports, though it's understood Atletico rejected the offer.
Simeone, 53, commented on Felix's situation after La Liga got underway for Atleti and suggested the player has a tough fight ahead. There's pressure on Los Rojiblancos to get value out of their record signing - who is contracted until 2027 - but the current situation paints a dire picture.
|The footage showed fans in strong voice slating their record signing (Image: Gol Play)|
“I see that the La Liga has started, he is with us, he knows what we need and want, what we are going to demand of him, he told AS after Monday's result. "He has to compete with Memphis, Griezmann, Morata and Correa and if he is better than them, he will play."
Murmurs of tension between Felix and the rest of his team-mates was spurred on when he was seen sitting separately from his colleagues on the bench. Former squad-mate Cesar Azpilicueta - who joined Atletico on a free this summer - also addressed the current climate and offered his two cents as to what's required of the prospect.
“It’s a complicated situation, I was his teammate at Chelsea, now at Atleti," the former Blues skipper told AS. "Giving the maximum is what we have in our hands, giving the maximum for the club we represent, in this case Atleti. Grit your teeth and keep fighting, there is no other secret in football."
🇪🇸 Sad situation as Joao Felix sat separately and his name was booed when it was read out.— TheSecretScout (@TheSecretScout_) August 14, 2023
Reports Barcelona will offer Ansu Fati to sign Joao Felix.
Hopefully issues resolves itself soon pic.twitter.com/DRGxVhtbIy
Felix has scored 34 goals in 131 appearances for the Madrid giants to date, far from the return fans might have expected of a player who bagged 20 times in his only senior campaign with Benfica. Few might have guessed the player would be completely out of the XI at this stage in his career, and some fans are refusing to keep their frustrations to themselves.
It's likely only a select crop of clubs that could afford to make a move for Felix given the financial implications of a deal. However, Atleti face a conundrum in regards to what they're willing to accept for a player whose current situation looks untenable.