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Why Mauricio Pochettino’s £88m transfer decision shows he’s in charge at Chelsea



(Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

One of Mauricio Pochettino’s first key transfer decisions was made official on Tuesday after it was confirmed Joao Felix would return to Atletico Madrid this summer.

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo said: “Yesterday (Monday) we had the news that the new Chelsea manager does not (want) Felix.

“We’ve known for less than 24 hours. He’ll come back here and we’ll see. We don’t have anything planned.”

Joao Felix netted four goals in 20 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea after arriving at Stamford Bridge in January for a £9.7 million loan.

The Portugal international settled into his new surroundings quickly and well, with the club liking the forward, as well as Felix admitting he was happy in the English capital.

But his long-term future always remained unclear. He left Atletico for a fresh start due to a strained relationship with boss Diego Simeone, but his valuation was always going to prove to be a stumbling block.

Atletico were continuing to hold out for £88 million, as per reports, if he was to be sold on a permanent basis, while another loan would likely command a similar fee to what was paid in January.

However, ultimately, Felix’s stay at Chelsea was down to one person: Mauricio Pochettino. The newly-appointed head coach, who will officially start on July 1, has started work on the look of the squad and following confirmation of his arrival on Monday, he made the first call quickly.

Pochettino decided he didn’t see Felix as part of his plans, a sign of who is in charge in west London over the squad. The Argentine is.

Despite the club’s feeling on Felix and the Portuguese’s stance, Pochettino made the final call, even if unpopular amongst some, to begin the Chelsea overhaul and trimming of the bloated squad.

Felix is the first of many departures expected this summer. Denis Zakaria will also return to Juventus once his loan deal expires at the end of next month, while the likes of Edouard Mendy, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N’Golo Kante, Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all face uncertain futures in the capital.

Big calls are required from Pochettino and the first has been made early. Pochettino has well and truly arrived, and he’s just getting started.