Soccer

Joao Felix’s shirt number frustration as Man Utd eye transfer

ten Hag comments on Man Utd's January transfer plans

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Manchester United are keen on landing Joao Felix in the January transfer window. The Red Devils know they need a forward to replace Cristiano Ronaldo and, with Atletico Madrid willing to let the 23-year-old go out on loan, the stars may be about to align. And, should a move take place, the Portugal international could get his dream shirt number – which isn’t the No 7…

Felix has worn the No 7 jersey at Atletico ever since his arrival from Benfica back in the summer transfer window of 2019.

However, upon arriving in Spain, he revealed he’d actually wanted to don his preferred No 79 instead – having previously worn that jersey during his time in his homeland.

“I wanted the No 79, but they didn’t let me here,” he said during the early embers of his time at La Liga.

“Then I wanted the No 10, but that was already taken, so I ended up with the No 7.”

It wasn’t necessarily Atletico’s fault that Felix wasn’t allowed to wear his favourite jersey, with Diego Simeone’s side forced to agree to La Liga rules.

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In Spain, all members of the first-team squad are required to have digits between one and 25.

Goalkeepers must wear No 1, No 13 or No 25 and, when players from the reserve team are selected, they’re given the chance to wear any number between 26 and 50.

Many would expect Felix to take the No 7 jersey if he moved to United given that’s the one he’s sported during his time at the Metropolitano Stadium.

Yet the No 79 is available at Old Trafford, so that means the Portugal international could instead get the number he likes the most.

Youngster Tyler Fredricson has the highest shirt number at United at present, with the centre-back yet to make his debut for the club.

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Alejandro Garnacho sported the No 75 last term but, to reflect his growing importance, changed to the No 49 for the current campaign.

Alvaro Fernandes, who is currently on loan at Preston, and Shola Shoretire have both been occupants of the No 74.

And Kobbie Mainoo and  Zidane Iqbal have donned the No 73 jersey, with the former wearing it at present as he looks to make his mark at United.

Regarding a deal for Felix, things are far from straightforward as the Red Devils target a blockbuster January deal.

Arsenal want the 23-year-old at a time when Gabriel Jesus is sidelined through injury, though Mykhaylo Mudryk remains their priority target at present.

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Chelsea can’t be ruled out either, with Graham Potter eager to acquire an upgrade on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he looks to turn his side’s poor form around.

Then there’s the small matter of Atletico’s demands, too.

Simeone’s team want a fee in the region of £18million to let Felix go, a fee that United consider far too high at the current moment in time.

Instead, the Red Devils would prefer to fork out close to £5m. For now, however, there’s no sign of Atletico changing their current stance.

Meanwhile, regarding Felix, Paul Merson recently expressed a belief he wouldn’t be the right fit for Chelsea amid links to United and Arsenal.

“It’s going to take Potter as much time to settle at Chelsea as it would a new player coming to a different league,” he said.

“He’s had a bit of bad luck too. They have a £100m player in Romelu Lukaku out on loan, and two of their best are injured. They need a striker because they can’t blow teams away at the moment.

“But even if they buy a striker in January, it’s a big ask to get in the top four now.

“I’ve seen Joao Felix linked with them but I think he’d be a bit lightweight in this league and a bit too similar to Kai Havertz.

“They need to find someone more dynamic who can bully defenders and score goals. But those are hard to find.”

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