Chelsea’s struggles this season have been well-documented, and even resulted in the departure of their head coach Thomas Tuchel earlier this season.
Incoming manager Graham Potter, too, has not been able to solve that problem.
New players like Sterling and Aubameyang have joined incumbents in Pulisic, Havertz, Ziyech and co. in being unable to provide a consistent goalscoring threat.
In the Premier League, Chelsea’s leading goal scorers are Havertz and Sterling at 4 each, followed by Mount at 3 and then Jorginho, a midfielder, and Koulibaly, a defender, at 2.
In contrast, local rivals and league leaders Arsenal have four players who have scored more than 4 goals, Martinelli (7), Odegaard (7), Saka (6) and Jesus (5).
Teams such as Leicester and Leeds have outscored Chelsea’s 21 goals in the PL this season, such is the state of attackers at the club.
Given such an obvious hole, Potter and the management were always going to use the winter window to rectify the situation.
And rectify they have, or at least attempted to, anyway.
In came on loan Joao Felix, a highly rated youngster from Atletico Madrid.
Felix’s preferred position
The six-month loan move came after the 23-year-old signed a new contract in Madrid, and would cost the London club €11m plus wages.
Felix first shot to fame when playing for Benfica, where he scored 20 times in 43 outings, before moving to Atleti for a club-record €126m.
However, he failed to flourish under the defensive-first Simeone, scoring only 34 times in 131 appearances, a fair few of which came off the bench.
One could say that this move comes at a good point in time for the player and the new club, given one offers goals while the other needs a striker who gets them.
We can only assume that’s what Potter wanted the new man in for, to play as a striker.
But if Felix’s own words are anything to go by, it seems that is not the position the player sees himself in.
Speaking in February 2022, Felix said, “My best position is as the second forward,” he says. “Playing like a No 10, with a guy in front of me.”
In previous seasons, the Portuguese has been used as a centre-forward, as a winger and even as a false 9, but he is firm that his best position is a Number 10, meaning a sort of a CAM.
The last two goals also came when he played off a main striker, with Morata for Atletico and with Ronaldo for Portugal.
Trouble for Potter and Chelsea
Now, we are assuming that Potter wanted to sign a striker and got Felix to fill in. It is entirely possible that the agenda was not that.
After all, Felix played on the wing in his debut game against Fulham, where he did show glimpses of quality but then got sent off in a dim-witted moment.
But then we have to ask, what problem does Felix solve?
He just adds to a plethora of players who can’t do what he wants to do. Mount, Ziyech, Pulisic and even Gallagher are there to play that way.
Chelsea actually needed a striker, which they are yet to get.
Did the club get this wrong? And if so, how was that allowed to happen?
Or do they have different plans that we laymen people cannot see yet?
Whatever the case, for the next three games, Potter will have to make do without him thanks to his suspension following the red card.
With the six-month loan already turned into a five-month deal, Potter will hope Felix can provide goals and assists from whatever position he can to lift the side up to European places.