How Chelsea could line up in two different ways after £323m spree

Graham Potter has a selection puzzle to solve after Chelsea’s £323.5m January spending spree with a bloated squad to keep happy and UEFA rules to abide by, with TWO very strong starting XIs he could name

  • Chelsea made an astonishing eight signings in the January transfer window 
  • Signing of Enzo Fernandez took Chelsea’s January spending to more than £323m
  • Champions League regulations will see Graham Potter having to tweak his teams

Todd Boehly has yet again shown that he is not afraid to break the bank as he continues his spending spree since taking over at Chelsea.

The Blues followed on from their summer recruitment by bringing in eight new players this January – and the British record signing of Enzo Fernandez took their spending for the month to an extraordinary £323.5million.

Although Graham Potter will be delighted with the new recruits, including the likes of Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile and Joao Felix, it is hard to imagine how they will all fit in at Stamford Bridge.

Potter is already having to face a Champions League squad dilemma with UEFA rules stating that only three new players can be registered for the knockout rounds. 

Sportsmail takes a look at Chelsea’s bloated squad and the different ways Potter could line them up.

Todd Boehly has backed Graham Potter in the January transfer market, spending £323.5m

Potter’s strongest XI 

Champions League rules state that from Chelsea’s last-16 tie against Borussia Dortmund, they can only register a maximum of three new eligible players for the remaining matches.

This means Potter will be forced to leave out one of Fernandez, Felix, Mudryk and Badiashile – with the latter potentially the one to miss out.

After breaking the British transfer record to sign Enzo Fernandez, it’s no question that the World Cup winner will slot right into the heart of Chelsea’s midfield.

Potter could deploy Fernandez across any of the midfield three. For Benfica, he tended to play on the left, while he started in the middle for Argentina’s World Cup final victory against France in Qatar.

A full-strength side would see Fernandez partnered alongside N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount, with Jorginho now out of the picture after sealing a move to London rivals Arsenal on deadline day.

Behind the midfield, Potter will no doubt stick with his talisman Thiago Silva – who would likely be partnered with a fully fit Wesley Fofana. 

The two powerful defenders would surely be flanked by England internationals Ben Chilwell and Reece James – who are both nearing a return to action. Kepa is a shoo-in to continue in goal having snatched the No 1 role off Edouard Mendy.

Chelsea broke the British transfer record to sign Enzo Fernandez and is he set to slot straight into Graham Potter’s midfield

Benoit Badiashile may miss out on a place in the Champions League squad as Chelsea have to abide by UEFA rules

At the other end of the pitch, Potter will likely feel compelled to utilise another new signing in Mykhailo Mudryk.

The Ukraine international has had one short cameo since making his £88m move from Shakhtar Donetsk, but it was enough to show what he’s capable of.

In fact, the 22-year-old became the fastest Premier League player of the season after playing just 35 minutes of football in England.

Mudryk is likely to come in from the left and could be partnered with regular Kai Havertz down the middle and another addition – albeit a loan one – in Joao Felix from the right.

Potter’s alternative XI

Chelsea’s recruitment has enabled Graham Potter to have an entire second XI at his disposal.

Having Edouard Mendy as a backup is by no means a massive step down, although the Senagalese shotstopper faces a spell on the sidelines with a fractured finger.

Potentially missing out on a Champions League spot, Badiashile is also not a bad alternative to have at all.

The 21-year-old has made a bright start to life at Stamford Bridge and could easily line up alongside Kalidou Koulibaly – who signed from Napoli for £34m on a four-year deal in the summer.

Having Kalidou Koulibaly as a backup option highlights the strength of depth that Potter has

Raheem Sterling is another star player who could slot into an alternative Chelsea side, highlighting how many forwards Potter has at his disposal

The strong defensive core could be flanked by Trevoh Chalobah on the right and Marc Cucurella on the left.  

Meanwhile, an alternative midfield could see Denis Zakaria – who is on loan from Juventus – operate alongside Conor Gallagher and former Real Madrid star Mateo Kovacic.  

Going forward, Potter has the luxury of several talented stars to choose from, including Mudryk, Felix, Mount, Sterling, Aubameyang, Ziyech and Pulisic.

In an entirely different XI, Potter could use Sterling, Pulisic and Aubameyang as his front three. 

The different teams that Potter could select leaves several high-profile names in jeopardy of being left on the bench at Stamford Bridge.

The likes of veteran Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Marcus Bettinelli, Noni Madueke, Lewis Hall, David Datro Fofana, Gabriel Slonina and Hakim Ziyech do not even make either sides. 

Ziyech tried to join PSG on deadline day but the move crumbled after it was claimed Chelsea submitted the incorrect documentation in order to sign off on the deal on more than one occasion.

Meanwhile Pulisic has also been linked with a move away due to his lack of minutes under Potter. 

And Sterling, who joined for £55m in the summer, has endured a tough start to life at Stamford Bridge as he juggled being asked to play in a variety of different positions before picking up an injury against his former club Man City. 

It remains to be seen who Potter will ultimately trust in his staring line-up, but he’s not short of options – that’s for sure. 

Source: Read Full Article