With João Félix poised to depart Atletico Madrid this winter, Manchester United have been incessantly linked with the Portuguese star.
Only able to conduct loan deals, Erik ten Hag has almost demanded that football director John Murtough and CEO Richard Arnold acquire for him a feasible striker.
Unlike the majority of loan moves, Félix presents a more attractive, youthful, and marquee transfer. The main question is how United could line up with him in the side?
More acquainted with the role as second-striker, Félix would not exactly fill the goal-getting, ruthless, out-and-out striker-shaped gap in the team.
He has only scored five times for Atletico in all competitions during this campaign and finished last season with ten goals.
With such a purchase, Ten Hag would have to adapt his eleven to suit Félix’s talents.
But, with Anthony Martial’s goal-shy and placid nature in the centre-forward role, Ten Hag may be willing to test out Félix in this position.
This would serve as help to the Dutchman’s goal of creating a multi-functional, dynamic, and unpredictable attack.
Lining up in a 4-3-3, the Portugal international comes in directly to replace Martial.
Although many may scorn at this suggestion of swapping one out-of-position forward for another, Félix’s proactiveness may thrive in Ten Hag’s front three system.
Félix would, however, drag the formation back in following his natural instinct to play as a false nine.
This would, therefore, still present the same problem that currently exists in the opposition box – that there is an insufficient presence.
There would most likely be confusion as Bruno Fernandes operates in similar positions. Félix’s introduction into the side could lead Ten Hag to experiment and adopt interesting tactics.
In a defensive shape of 4-1-3-2, the option to field Félix and Fernandes together without convoluting key spaces in the final third could be realised.
This formation fields Rashford and Félix as striking partners – but split to avoid congestion and to fit their skillset: penetrating the half-spaces.
With Garnacho as an example on the wing, there would be the opportunity for Félix to join in on interplay allowing Rashford to attack the box, or to let the youngster go by himself and instead be an extra body around the penalty spot.
It is perhaps unlikely that Ten Hag would be comfortable with changing his tactics so drastically at this mid-point in the season – especially with the side performing well after five months on the training ground with the Dutchman.
Félix would be an appealing signing due to his undeniable quality and potential to fit Ten Hag’s desired Total Football style of play.
As presented, the side could be shuffled around to adhere to him. But the manager himself admitted a purchase would be made to supplement centre-forward options “only when we find the right player.”
And with Félix’s nondescript positioning and the fact he is not a clinical no. 9, it is unlikely that he will be the “right” striker for United this January.
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