£113m striker snubbed chance to join Aston Villa and Manchester United to secure fairytale loan move

Aston Villa were one of the frontrunners to sign a former Benfica prodigy

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A former Golden Boy winner snubbed the chance to join Aston Villa this summer as he pursued a dream loan move, according to reports in Spain.

Portugal attacker Joao Felix was thought to be a target for a number of English clubs including Aston Villa, Liverpool and Manchester United.

Unai Emery was reportedly keen to bolster his attacking options with Ollie Watkins, Leon Bailey and new recruit Moussa Diaby all leading the line.

Felix rose to prominence as a teenager at Benfica and his impressive form in the 2018/19 season caught the attention of Atletico Madrid who signed the player for a club-record fee of £113m, which remains the fourth most expensive transfer fee in history for a footballer.

The young forward was a member of Diego Simeone’s title winning team in just his second season at the club, but he gradually fell down the pecking order in the following two seasons and he was loaned out to Chelsea for six months at the end of last season.

Felix showed signs of promise at Stamford Bridge but struggled to settle in a disjointed team that fell to a 12th place finish in the league. New Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino opted against signing the player in favour of a move for Villarreal striker Nicolas Jackson, while Cole Palmer and Christopher Nkunku were also added to the frontline.

The 23-year-old remains out of Simeone’s plans at the Metropolitano Stadium and the footballer will try to revive his career in a loan spell at Spanish giants Barcelona.

Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo reports that Felix forced the move to the Nou Camp and turned down several offers from England and Saudi Arabia.

Reports also suggest that the player has taken a pay cut to make the move happen and he is expected to receive around £342,000 for the whole season.

Felix is hoping to maintain his place in the Portuguese set up ahead of Euro 2024 and the team will be led into the tournament by former Belgium boss Roberto Martinez.