Joao Felix had a debut to forget for Chelsea in their 2-1 defeat at Fulham on Thursday night – and his red card will have serious financial repercussions for the Blues.
Felix made a promising start to life in a Chelsea shirt, with the 23-year-old by far the brightest player for Graham Potter’s struggling side. Just a day after he was signed on loan from Atletico Madrid, he produced an eye-catching nutmeg on Tim Ream inside two minutes and tested Bernd Leno on a few occasions inside the first half.
But things took a completely different perspective in the 58th minute when the Portuguese forward dived into a challenge against Fulham defender Kenny Tete. He was shown a straight red card, leaving his side with 10 men when the score was at 1-1.
Carlos Vinicius promptly headed in the winner for the home side, which compounded the misery for Potter, who has now won just one of his last nine Premier League matches. Chelsea are 10th, with just 25 points from their 18 games – six adrift of Fulham in sixth.
To make matters worse, star signing Felix now faces a three-match ban that comes from picking up a straight red card for serious foul play. He will therefore miss Chelsea’s home Premier League game against Crystal Palace on Sunday, as well as the following games against Liverpool away and Fulham at home.
He is likely not to play again until February 11, against West Ham – meaning just shy of a month on the sidelines. Chelsea will therefore be forking out a considerable amount of money just for their loan signing to train at Cobham.
Felix’s six-month loan deal is costing a staggering £15million, comprising a £9.7m in a loan fee to Atleti and £5.3m in wages. That means, with 20 Premier League games left this season, as well as at least two Champions League ties, Felix’s stint on the sidelines will cost around £2m.
Potter had no complaints with the awarding of a red card by referee David Coote. He told BT Sport: "It was a forward’s tackle, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red.
“It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment. He was really good, you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us."
Felix joins a whole host of Chelsea players currently on the sidelines through injuries. Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic, N’Golo Kante, Reece James, Wesley Fofana, Ben Chilwell, Armando Broja, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Edouard Mendy are all currently out, while Denis Zakaria limped off the pitch at Craven Cottage.
Potter added: "I think we controlled the game early, won the ball back high, created some opportunities [but] maybe missed the last pass. We made a couple of mistakes for their goal. Second half, I think we responded well and then the red card changes the game.”