Chelsea have spent over £300m on players in January after the arrival of Enzo Fernandez – and Graham Potter must now work out his strongest XI.
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The Blues smashed the British transfer record to bring in Argentina’s World Cup winning midfielder Fernandez to Stamford Bridge from Portuguese club Benfica in a deal worth a whopping £106.8m, which Chelsea confirmed on Wednesday.
American owner Todd Boehly, who took over from Roman Abramovich in the summer, has also splashed the cash on seven other signings in January as Ukraine international Mykhailo Mudryk arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk for £88.5m.
Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke and Malo Gusto were brought in for a combined total of £90.3m from Monaco, PSV and Lyon while David Datro Fofana and Andrey Santos were signed for undisclosed fees and Joao Felix came in on loan from Atletico Madrid, with Chelsea paying £10m for his services for six months.
Chelsea’s January spending is not the end of the story, though, with the west London club now having splurged around £600m on new faces in the Boehly era. Their summer spree included Leicester City’s Wesley Fofana for £75m, Brighton’s Marc Cucurella for £63m and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling for £47.5m.
Kalidou Koulibaly came in for £34m, Carney Chukwuemeka arrived for £20m, Cesare Casadei was signed for £16.6m and Gabriel Slonina’s deal was worth £12m. Then there was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for £10.3m, Omari Hutchinson – who was a free transfer from Arsenal – and Denis Zakaria, loaned in from Juventus.
That’s 18 new players – if you were counting – and Chelsea head coach Potter, who only replaced Thomas Tuchel in September, must now quickly formulate his best-possible starting team as the 10th-placed Blues look to climb the Premier League table. Metro.co.uk takes a look at what their strongest XI might look like…
Chelsea’s strongest XI may include four of their eight January signings. The 4-3-3 shape would allow a fierce attacking trio with plenty of pace and would mean that Mason Mount could operate as a creative number eight alongside the ball-playing Mateo Kovacic with the defensive-minded Enzo Fernandez behind them.
A centre-back pairing of Benoit Badiashile and Thiago Silva would blend youth and experience with England duo Reece James and Ben Chilwell as the full-backs. Noni Madueke may need some time before he becomes a regular starter, though, with the ex-PSV man struggling with an ankle injury for large parts of the season.
An alternative option is for Graham Potter is to push Reece James and Ben Chilwell a little higher and operate with three centre-backs – making room for Wesley Fofana – but would mean having to sacrifice a midfield player. Enzo Fernandez would likely be tasked with maintaining Chelsea’s shape here.
A different attacking option for Chelsea would be to go with Joao Felix in the front three instead of Noni Madueke. There is also Raheem Sterling to consider – with Potter clearly a big fan of the England star – leaving him out of the starting XI just four times in all competitions before he suffered his current hamstring injury.
A third shape Graham Potter may decide to deploy would be the 4-3-2-1. As previously stated, once Raheem Sterling returns, the Chelsea head coach may decide to go with experience and pick him over Joao Felix and Noni Madueke.
Mount would be the most likely starter just behind the striker but Potter could decide to put Felix there instead. Wesley Fofana could well be the preferred choice over Benoit Badiashile in a back four, so it will be interesting to see which player Graham Potter sticks alongside Rolls-Royce centre-back Thiago Silva.
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