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Graham Potter clarifies Champions League decision and defends Chelsea after Enzo Fernandez claims

Graham Potter clarifies Champions League decision and defends Chelsea after Enzo Fernandez claims

Graham Potter believes that Chelsea’s new signings have the potential to transform the club’s season, but he acknowledges that he will have to make difficult decisions in order to keep every member of his bloated first-team squad satisfied.

During the January transfer window, Chelsea spent over £300,000,000 on a variety of players. And while Gabriel Slonina, Malo Gusto, Andre Santos, and David Datro Fofana were future investments, Benoit Badiashile, Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke, Joao Felix, and Enzo Fernandez have been incorporated into the senior squad.

This has created an immediate problem for Potter and his staff, as only three of the newcomers can be registered for the Champions League knockout stage due to UEFA restrictions. Yesterday, a determination had to be made regarding who would survive 

“They’re tough decisions, that’s for sure,” admitted the Chelsea head coach ahead of his side’s Premier League clash against Fulham. “Each player brings something but we had to make a decision on the overall make-up of the group, the overall make-up of the squad, and look at it in that way. There’s no other way to articulate it, to be honest.

“There are challenges when you’ve got this many players in terms of what role they play because most players want to play, they want to be on the pitch, they want to help the team. When they are not, it is a challenge and it is a challenge for lots of reasons at this football club.

“When you go through a period of transition and the steps we’ve gone through, there are going to be periods when it’s tougher than you ideally want – it’s not optimal. I am not complaining about it, it is what it is, and I have to do my best to help support and manage the club. I want to support the club step by step, manage the club, and put the team in a better place than when I arrived.”

Enzo Fernandez was the final player to arrive in the month of January. A deal worth a £106.7million – a British transfer record – was officially completed in the final minutes of the window and the Argentine arrived at Cobham on Wednesday to undertake media work and meet the club staff.

The Chelsea transfer fee for a player with less than one season of European football experience has been questioned.

Although Potter understands why pundits and commentators are having this discussion, he does not believe the Blues overpaid to acquire a player of Fernandez’s caliber.

“I can understand it but every transfer is a gamble,” he said. “If you look at the market for midfield players – and midfield players that haven’t won the World Cup – you’ll be quoted a lot of money. We’ve got a player with a huge personality; he played in midfield for Argentina who won the World Cup.

“He has attributes that can help him play in any league in the world. He has already played well in the Champions League and we followed him before the World Cup, we knew about him anyway. So we’re confident about the personality.

“It’s like anything: he’s still a young person, he’s still a young man coming to this country. You’ve got to adapt to the club. But we’ll help him with that and his personality is one where you think ‘Oh, I’ve got no worries about him’.

“He’s a fighter and I think he understands how fortunate he is. He fights for the team, has courage, is not afraid, and is open-minded. He wants to improve and if you’re playing as the No.6 for Argentina – playing the big games at his age, and with the quality – it’s not easy to have those attributes.”

Fernandez could be immediately inserted into the starting lineup for today’s match against Fulham. Despite not being fully acclimated, the Argentine trained today following his transition.

Potter is optimistic about what can be accomplished this season once he is up to speed and integrated with Chelsea’s other January signings and key players returning from injury.

“Like I often say, signing players is relatively easy, signing the right ones isn’t. Then we need to align everyone together so we’re all on the same path and all going forward, Potter explained. “There is potential [that the new signings change what is possible] That’s why we’re excited. But at the same time, we also have to respect the fact a team needs to come together, we need to gel, we need to work and go day by day.

“But certainly, there is excitement for that. We’re excited with the players we’ve added, excited for the players returning from injury and when you look at the group it’s a really strong, competitive group.”

Graham Potter clarifies Champions League decision and defends Chelsea after Enzo Fernandez claims

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