Arsenal have been rocked by the recent injury to talisman Gabriel Jesus, with the club confirming that he has had surgery and will face an extensive spell on the sidelines.
And with the World Cup in Qatar preceding the January transfer window, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta might just now turn his attention toward signing a replacement up front.
With The Sun reporting earlier this season that Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke would grant the funds necessary to bolster the ranks during the winter window, Portugal ace Joao Felix emerges as a potential, if lucrative, option for the club.
Indeed, Spanish outlet Relevo have reported this week that the north London outfit are set to rival the wealth of top European clubs in securing his signature.
Should Arsenal swoop for Felix after the World Cup?
Felix, signed for an eye-watering £113m from S.L. Benfica in 2019, has not quite lived up to the hype at the Wanda Metropolitano, only scoring 33 goals and providing 18 assists across 129 outings for the Spanish giants.
But his talent has never been in question; Spanish outlet AS recently reported that tension surrounding manager Diego Simeone and the Portuguese ace threatened to boil over, and factors surrounding the club’s style of play and polarising opinions contributed to an acrimonious atmosphere.
As evidenced on World Cup duty in Qatar, Felix possesses all the qualities required to flourish for any of Europe’s largest, most prominent outfits, with his slick, gliding movements and ability to knit the midfield and offence together offering a unique dimension to the team that most sides scarcely see.
As per Sofascore, the 23-year-old has recorded an impressive average rating of 7.33 in Qatar, offering two shots per match, completing 79% of his passes in his offensive role, and registering a goal and two assists.
With this impressive host of skills, there is certainly a resemblance to Dennis Bergkamp, one of Arsenal’s most beloved and devastating creative outlets in their distinguished history.
Bergkamp’s ability to sit behind the likes of Thierry Henry and selflessly provide assists and attacking support was a defining factor behind the Gunners’ success during that period.
Knocking up 115 goals and 95 assists throughout his time at the Emirates Stadium, winning three Premier League trophies and four FA Cups, Bergkamp cemented his legacy as one of the greatest to ply their trade at the club.
Like Bergkamp, Felix thrives in crafting openings for his teammates, drawing defenders haphazardly across their defensive third and unlocking backlines with a mixture of creative and direct efforts.
The Portuguese “sensation” – as journalist Sacha Pisani once dubbed him – would certainly not come cheap, with Atletico likely looking to recuperate much of the £113m that they signed him for, with Bayern Munich allegedly bidding £86m for the player previously.
As per FBref, the 27-cap phenom ranks within the top 11% for assists and progressive passes this past year, when compared to positional peers across Europe’s big five leagues.
Felix is immensely talented, and he would give the Gunners a new dimension to their offensive play, one that could pay dividends in the race to clinch their first league title in nearly two decades, serving as a creative focal point, much like Bergkamp for Arsenal’s ‘invincibles’.
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