Arsenal report: Gunners are now leading race for Joao Felix

Arsenal target Joao Felix celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group H football match between Portugal and Ghana at Stadium 974 in Doha on November 24, 2022.
(Image credit: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Arsenal are at the front of queue for Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix, with the unsettled forward looking to leave the Spanish capital imminently.

Felix joined for a nine-figure sum in 2019 to replace the Barcelona-bound Antoine Griezmann – but has found life in La Liga tougher than expected. Rumours that he doesn't get on with manager Diego Simeone have been a constant during his career in Madrid, with plenty of rumours linking him away during his three-and-a-half-year stint.

Performances at the World Cup – particularly in Portugal's 6-1 win over Switzerland – have shown exactly what the 23-year-old is capable of, however. With Atletico finishing bottom of their Champions League group in the autumn, Felix could well be persuaded to leave – and Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is a reported fan of the player. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta during a training session at Al Nasr Leisure Land Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Mikel Arteta is apparently a fan of Atletico Madrid star, Joao Felix (Image credit: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

According to Spanish outlet Marca (opens in new tab), Arsenal are now in the best position to try and sign Felix. Aston Villa and their new manager Unai Emery, formerly of Arsenal, were also said be interested but can't offer a deal as attractive as the north Londoners. 

Patricia Cazon (opens in new tab) of Diario AS says the Gunners are now in a league with the likes of Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain to make the signing – ESPN (opens in new tab), however, says that United are concerned by the transfer fee, while PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has explained that his club won't be signing Cristiano Ronaldo (opens in new tab) – so Felix seems wholly unlikely.

That leaves Arsenal, who attempted to sign a left-winger in the summer as cover for their attacking options, spending the last few weeks of the transfer window pursuing Pedro Neto. With Gabriel Jesus sidelined through injury right now, it's possible that Felix could be an option either on the left wing or at centre-forward.

The one sticking point might be who Arsenal have to negotiate with. The club signed defensive midfielder Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid in 2020 – and severely angered los Colchoneros in the process. 

Thomas Partey

Arsenal's move for Thomas Partey upset Atletico Madrid (Image credit: PA)

Arsenal attempted to talk Atletico down from their valuation of Partey, though the Spanish side wouldn't budge in the slightest. In the end, the Gunners activated the release clause in the final hours of the transfer window, leaving Atleti without a replacement and upsetting them in the process. 

The current Premier League leaders might find that they're hard-balled by Felix's employers if they try to move for him in January – and might want to pursue an easier deal like Mykhailo Mudrik from Shakhtar Donestk. 

Felix is valued at €50 million by Transfermarkt (opens in new tab)

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With Gabriel Jesus out of action for a while, plans to land Myhailo Mudryk may well be shelved, however. Arsenal are considering re-signing Yunus Musah, while Cody Gakpo is an option, too. Joao Felix has emerged as a potential superstar signing at the Emirates Stadium. 

Gabriel Martinelli's contract situation is being watched by Barcelona, meanwhile.

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