Manchester United have failed with an astonishing late summer move for Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix. The Red Devils were told Felix isn’t for sale after attempting to make him their record signing as Erik ten Hag scrambles for attacking reinforcements with two weeks of the transfer window remaining.
According to Marca, and since confirmed by several other Spanish outlets, Atletico have rejected a £114million offer for the 22-year-old. When tabled the mammoth bid, which exceeds the £113m fee Los Rojiblancos paid Benfica for his services in 2019, club CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin made it clear that he wasn’t for sale.
The report claims that United first made their interest known on July 31, one day after facing Atletico Madrid in Oslo in pre-season. But Marin ‘didn’t flinch’ after being told to expect an incoming offer worth similar to what they splashed for his signature three years ago.
United’s pursuit of Felix has been labelled ‘desperate’, and due to his significant role in the Portuguese star’s arrival, Marin snubbed any negotiations and referred to the £296m release clause in his contract. The Atleti chief believes that, after initial struggles, Felix will become the world’s best player.
Ten Hag is desperate to bolster his attacking options this summer after inheriting a lean department after Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, and Edinson Cavani left the club on free transfers. But he’s faced frustration so far, missing out on Darwin Nunez to Liverpool, Ajax pricing him out of a move for Antony and United showing hesitance to sanction a reunion with Hakim Ziyech.
Concerns over Cristiano Ronaldo’s future haven’t helped the Old Trafford club’s depth issues, worsened by Anthony Martial’s early-season injury and Mason Greenwood’s ongoing suspension. But United’s football director John Murtough will have to turn his focus elsewhere after being firmly turned away from the Spanish capital.
The Red Devils are also understood to have been denied in talks for Atleti’s Matheus Cunha, while interest in PSV Eindhoven winger Cody Gakpo could rely on whether they win their Champions League play-off against Rangers.
Christian Pulisic is the latest forward to be linked with a move, but Chelsea are thought to be unwilling to loan him to a direct rival. With September 1 growing ever close and Ten Hag still wanting a goalkeeper, right-back and central midfielder on top of a versatile forward, United are running out of time.