After Extra Time
This is a live match.
vs Fulham. Premier League.
After Extra Time
This is a live match.
vs Fulham. Premier League.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been axed from Chelsea’s Champions League squad with record-breaking signing Enzo Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk and Joao Felix included.
Benoit Badiashile is also not listed on Chelsea’s UEFA squad page after joining in a £35m deal last month.
Chelsea were only allowed to register a maximum of three new players for the knockout stages of the Champions League, before taking on Borussia Dortmund in the last 16, starting on February 15.
All clubs are limited to a 25-man squad and Chelsea used 24 players in the group stage, with only one of them – Jorginho – leaving the club in the January transfer window. Clubs had to inform UEFA of their desired squad changes by 11pm on Thursday, February 2.
The three new registered players are allowed to have played for another club in European competitions this season, so being cup-tied for the knockout stages was not an option for any of the players.
Chelsea made eight signings in January for a combined total of £323.3m. Malo Gusto is staying on loan at Lyon and Andrey Santos is waiting for a work permit so that left Graham Potter with the dilemma of picking three players from Fernandez, Mudryk, Felix, Badiashile, David Datro Fofana and Noni Madueke.
Aubameyang is included in Chelsea’s 25-man Premier League squad along with their new signings as there are no restrictions on how many changes clubs can make. The deadline was also on Thursday.
The 33-year-old has not started for Chelsea since their 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal on November 6. He has scored three goals for the club having joined on Deadline Day last summer in a £10m deal from Barcelona which included Marcos Alonso going the other way.
Potter said on Thursday he expected some difficult conversations with players over his Champions League squad selection.
“There will be awkward questions and conversations as that’s where we are because only XI can play and certain numbers can be in squads,” he said.
“So it’s about being honest, open, respectful and as transparent as you can. We have to create an environment where you respect players want to play and respect players want to compete and help the team.”
* denotes B list player
Watch Chelsea vs Fulham live on Sky Sports’ Friday Night Football from 7pm; Kick-off 8pm
Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp joked that he would only speak about Chelsea’s spending with a lawyer present when asked how he felt about their record-breaking January transfer window.
Backed by billionaire chairman and co-owner Todd Boehly, the Blues signed eight players last month and smashed the British transfer record when they signed Enzo Fernandez from Benfica for £106.8m
Their £323 million outlay was more than the clubs in the Italian, German, French and Spanish top flights combined.
When asked for his thoughts on the west London club’s business, speaking in his press conference ahead of the Reds’ trip to Wolves, Klopp said: “I say nothing without my lawyer! No, I’m joking.
“I don’t understand this part of the business, like what you can do and what you cannot do. They are all really good players, so from that point of view, congratulations.
“I don’t understand how it’s possible, but it’s obviously not for me to explain how it works.
“It will happen at some point that they will play well together, but how quick, I don’t know.”
Manchester City have spent £1.1bn since Pep Guardiola was appointed in the summer of 2016, which has helped power them to four Premier League titles, four EFL Cups, the FA Cup and two Community Shields.
They have sold players for a total of £568.6m over the same period meaning their net spend stands at £487.9m. It places them fourth in the Premier League behind Arsenal (£572.5m), Man Utd (£827m) and Chelsea (837.9m).
The success City have had following their investment has drawn criticism within football and asked what he thought the reaction would be had City spent the amount Chelsea have done this season, Guardiola said: “I know what would happen.
“Being the fifth or sixth in the Premier League on net spend, we won 11 trophies, four Premier Leagues in five years. That’s what really counts for us. What Chelsea have done, what the other clubs have done, is none of my business. We know exactly what we are working on.
“Of course, we need good players like Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, United all believe that – without good players you cannot compete, not just here in the Premier League but in Europe. You have to spend. Now the market is ‘wow’, it’s a lot.
“What Chelsea decide to do is not my business. There are regulations and rules, I don’t forget, eight or nine teams sent a letter to the Premier League [for us] to be banned [in 2020, when City were found to be in breach of Financial Fair Play regulations].
“That happened to us when we are the fifth team in net spend in the last five years when we were winning titles. This is the reality.”
On whether he thinks there is criticism solely for City, Guardiola added: “Where we come from, for sure, definitely.”
Chelsea smashed the British transfer record, spent more than the other four big leagues combined, and had hits and misses in an incredible window…
“Well, I guess I can’t imagine having too many of those types of days,” conceded Graham Potter on Chelsea’s Transfer Deadline Day business.
The call to Potter to tell him the record-breaking Enzo Fernandez deal from Benfica was finally done came just after midnight. There had been moments throughout the day when he thought it might not happen.
No wonder the Chelsea head coach’s overriding emotion was one of relief, but he is excited too about the undoubted talent of the young Argentine.
“We were aware of him before the World Cup, we knew of his qualities,” Potter exclusively told Sky Sports ahead of their Friday Night Football fixture with Fulham. “He was one of those players we were thinking about and then we watched him at the World Cup and thought this could be a bit more expensive than we thought.
“He’s determined, humble, you can see how he plays football he has personality and character. He’s played so many big games already at such a young age and moved away from his family and all that comes with it. He is a determined young man who knows what he wants, knows the game, wants to help the team and I look forward to getting to know him.”
If the paperwork and clearance is completed in time, Fernandez may play a part in Friday’s game. So too might Hakim Ziyech after the shambolic collapse of his deal to PSG in the final hours of Transfer Deadline Day.
“I spoke with him after,” said Potter “It’s part of football, it can happen, he’s so disappointed to get to that point. You think you are in one place and then suddenly you aren’t but he is professional, he knows the game, is supportive of this team and he wants to get back to helping us.
“He was good today, that’s the consideration about getting him right back into it. He wants to play football and achieve the most he can out of his career now with us. He is committed to us and we are looking forward to seeing him in the second half of the season.”
It won’t be the last time this season when Potter has to deliver some uncomfortable news. In a squad that was already brimming with international stars, a busy transfer window will lead to more difficult conversations over team selection.
“In an ideal world you wouldn’t want to be having them but that’s my job,” said Potter. “You have to do it in a respectful, honest and transparent way – and respect the fact there will be disappointment and frustration and you allow for that and help them go forward.
“You have to look at right combination, the balance of the group, and take the tough decisions. A lot of players can put up a strong case. That’s our challenge and I am not complaining about it – it’s part of the job and I am really looking forward to taking it and doing the best I can.
“I think there have been enormous challenges since day one. The club has gone through tremendous change with the ownership, there needs to be stability and calm which is hard for me to say when we have made the signings we have made. But going forward we have to build the team the culture and the environment and then you can start to see real progress I think.”
What some have struggled to see is the strategy behind the club’s rebuild under Todd Boehly. ‘Scattergun’ is the word that has been used in some quarters to describe the £600m spending spree at the club since the American billionaire’s takeover.
So what is Potter’s view of the bigger picture?
“Sometimes people can’t see things and that’s normal. From our perspective, we can see quite clearly in this window,” he said.
“You look at the age of the players, where they are in their careers, a combination of the investment in the transfer fee and salary has made good sense for us and where we’re at. We’ve got a hungry group of players who are ready to help the team now and also grow and grow as the club develops.
“The players that we have signed, the age of them, we have changed the direction of the team to where they needed to go, it is now about making it function.”
With Chelsea 10th in the Premier League and needing to make up a 10-point gap to the top four, how quickly can that happen?
Potter emphasises it will take time and you get the sense he will be given it. He won’t talk targets or speculate on his future if they don’t qualify for the Champions League but he hopes for and expects significant improvement in the second half of the season.
“Our ambition is to do as well as we can until the end of the season,” Potter added. “Our ambition is never to finish fourth or third or second, our ambition is to win. We are trying to do that with the signings we have made, we have showed our intention. At the same time, we understand the process and position, and we have to keep working.”
That begins tonight against a Fulham team who beat Chelsea 2-1 just a few weeks ago. As well as his glittering new star signings Potter could also have Reece James, Ben Chillwell and Raheem Sterling back from injury – it will be one of the most anticipated team sheets in some time as we get a glimpse of this evolving Chelsea side.
Having spent north of £300m, more than five times as much as any other Premier League club, Chelsea better hope they are winners. Todd Boehly’s assault on the transfer market demands scrutiny but what’s certain is that their squad is considerably stronger for it.
A British-record £106.8m deal for Enzo Fernandez, following a protracted transfer saga, capped another extraordinary window for the Blues, the Argentine being one of eight new faces.
The spending splurge takes their outlay for the season past £600m and leaves head coach Graham Potter with selection headaches all over the pitch, but there is plenty for supporters to get excited about as Chelsea prepare for the second half of the campaign.
Mykhailo Mudryk, an £88.5m signing from Shakhtar Donetsk, was electrifying on his debut against Liverpool, while Joao Felix’s performance against Fulham – before the sending off that marred it – showed he could have a transformative impact too.
Noni Madueke will hope to showcase his huge talent, his £29m arrival from PSV Eindhoven equipping Chelsea with an entirely new front three, while Benoit Badiashile has already slotted into the defence and big things are expected for Andrey Santos, Malo Gusto and David Datro Fofana.
The financials are mind-boggling. The lengthy contracts too. But the overriding feeling among fans is one of excitement and understandably so.
For Brighton, the transfer window was less about the players they signed and more about the one they kept. Moises Caicedo was in demand but the south coast club held their ground.
Chelsea were first to test their resolve, seeing a £55m approach for the midfielder turned down, but it was Arsenal who pushed hardest, going as high as £70m only to receive the same response.
Brighton stood to make an enormous profit on a player they paid £5m for only two years ago but owner Tony Bloom was adamant the 21-year-old would not be sold and he wasn’t bluffing.
Some will argue he should have cashed in. Caicedo wanted to leave and Brighton may never receive a better offer. But they are chasing a historically-high Premier League finish under Roberto De Zerbi and few players have been more influential than Caicedo.
A healthier balance sheet is little consolation to supporters if the team is weakened mid-season and Brighton have avoided that scenario. Relations will need to be repaired, but they know Caicedo has little to gain from sulking. A reconciliation is likely.
A different call was made on Leandro Trossard, of course, the Belgian sold to Arsenal for £27m after agitating for a move, but that decision looks well calculated too given they have won four out of five games without him and his replacement, Kaoru Mitoma, is thriving.
As for incomings, the club remained true to their philosophy, signing four teenagers, among them Swedish midfielder Yasin Ayari from AIK, to keep the emphasis on youth development. Why change a winning formula, after all? Brighton march on.
Arsenal’s January business caused consternation in some corners, with #EduOut trending on Twitter after the club lowered their sights from Moises Caicedo to Jorginho to bolster their midfield.
That came after the unsuccessful, and similarly high-profile, pursuit of Mykhailo Mudryk, who joined Chelsea, with Arsenal instead opting to bring in another cheaper alternative in Leandro Trossard.
But critics of their sporting director would be wise to remember his recent record. After all, missing out on Dusan Vlahovic allowed him to sign Gabriel Jesus. Missing out on Lisandro Martinez allowed him to bring in Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Those players have made huge contributions to Arsenal’s success this season and the hope now is that Trossard and Jorginho will do the same. Trossard, certainly, has offered plenty of encouragement in his early appearances.
And besides, given the strength of Mikel Arteta’s first-choice team, Arsenal’s main objective in this transfer window was to add depth. They had to adapt as they went, but their business shows the lessons of last year, when they left themselves short in January and paid a heavy price, have been learned.
The Jorginho signing has prompted comparisons with Willian, whose move from Stamford Bridge to the Emirates Stadium proved disastrous, but the Italian is an undoubted upgrade on Mohamed Elneny and Albert Sambi Lokonga and he brings leadership too.
Like Trossard, he also arrives in peak physical condition having featured regularly for Chelsea this season. In fact, he started their last two Premier League games, his return to the side coinciding with an upturn in form as they beat Crystal Palace and drew at Liverpool.
Then, in addition to the deals for Jorginho and Trossard, they brought in highly-rated Polish centre-back Jakub Kiwior from Spezia. Defence, midfield and attack, all strengthened. The signings may not be glamorous, but they are what Arsenal needed.
The January window was always likely to be busy for Bournemouth after American businessman Bill Foley completed his £100m takeover of the club in December and so it proved.
They failed with an ambitious attempt to sign Italy international Nicolo Zaniolo, but they did snare his Roma team-mate Matias Vina, a 28-cap Uruguay international who should provide a considerable injection of quality at left-back.
Vina was one of five new arrivals. There is also the £20m Dango Outtara, an exciting young winger who shone during the first half of the campaign with Lorient in France. Antoine Semenyo, from Bristol City, is another attacking player with plenty of potential.
Darren Randolph adds depth in the goalkeeping position and the Cherries saved their biggest signing until last, their £24m deal for centre-back Illia Zabarnyi, a Ukraine international, providing hope of much-needed defensive improvement as they battle the drop.
Erik ten Hag made no secret of the fact he was working with a limited budget in January following Manchester United’s big-spending summer. This time they had to get creative.
The signing of Wout Weghorst did not exactly set pulses racing. His poor spell at Burnley means he has work to do to win the sceptics over. But his scoring record in Germany and the Netherlands before that was impressive and his early United displays have offered encouragement.
The Dutchman has provided the focal point they lacked following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, whose mutually-agreed exit suited everyone, but he will need to build on his bright start in the months ahead and the same test awaits Marcel Sabitzer.
The Austria international shone during a seven-year spell at RB Leipzig but he arrives at Old Trafford having struggled to make a positive impact at Bayern Munich, making only 15 Bundesliga starts in 18 months and ultimately becoming surplus to requirements.
He looks a sensible short-term solution following news of Christian Eriksen’s impending absence through injury, especially given United’s budgetary constraints, but it remains to be seen how he adapts to the Premier League.
Julen Lopetegui received healthy backing in his first transfer window as Wolves manager, the club’s January spend totalling an initial £31.6m, with six additions helping to re-shape the squad.
Joao Gomes, the most expensive of them at £15m, comes with a reputation as one of the most exciting young midfielders in Brazil. Mario Lemina and Pablo Sarabia bring guile. Craig Dawson offers Premier League pedigree and experience at a paltry £3.3m.
But the same questions remain over firepower. Wolves, among the Premier League’s lowest scorers last season, have this time netted only 12 times in 20 games. Who is going to get the goals?
With Diego Costa and Raul Jimenez struggling for form and fitness, and summer signing Sasa Kalajdzic still unavailable due to injury, Lopetegui appears to be pinning his hopes of Matheus Cunha, whose loan from Atletico Madrid includes a £44m obligation to buy in the summer.
The purchase fee reflects his pedigree – he has been capped eight times by Brazil – but he is not an out-and-out No 9 and his scoring record is modest at 39 goals in 184 senior club appearances. Is he the answer? Wolves supporters will need to be convinced.
If Sean Dyche was not already aware of the scale of the job he has taken on at Everton, then he certainly will be now. The end of the transfer window brought nothing but disappointment.
The club banked £45m from the sale of Anthony Gordon to Newcastle but their attempts to reinvest that cash, and improve a squad in dire need of strengthening, proved fruitless.
The list of rejections and near misses seemed to lengthen by the hour on Deadline Day, with reports emerging of unsuccessful moves for Hakim Ziyech, Conor Gallagher, Iliman Ndiaye, Olivier Giroud, Michy Batshuayi, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Udinese striker Beto, among others.
Despite their desperate plight, level on points with Southampton at the bottom of the table, they ultimately end the window as the only Premier League side not to bring in a single player, leaving Dyche with an almighty task to keep them in the division.
“If you’re not bringing players in, I don’t see the point in changing Frank [Lampard],” said Sky Sports’ Paul Merson. “It wasn’t the manager, it was the players. For me, they need better players if they’re going to stay up. I think this team will struggle to stay up.”
Pep Guardiola may feel it was necessary in the interests of squad harmony, but Joao Cancelo’s Manchester City departure, on loan to Bayern Munich, is a head-scratcher however you slice it.
The Portugal international played more Premier League minutes than any other outfield player across Manchester City’s title-winning 2020/21 and 2021/22 campaigns and the same was true of this season until the World Cup break.
His form had dipped, undoubtedly, but the fact he was still seen as indispensable by Guardiola as recently as November underlines just how quickly the situation has deteriorated.
It is even more curious given City’s paucity of options at left-back. Nathan Ake has filled in ably in recent weeks but he does not offer anything like as much creative threat as Cancelo.
Oleksandr Zinchenko is gone, the Ukrainian now excelling for Arsenal, and Sergio Gomez has only been trusted to play 106 Premier League minutes since his arrival from Anderlecht in the summer.
Guardiola will hope Cancelo’s departure serves as a warning to other under-performing players currently on the fringes of his team. But the undeniable truth is that they are weaker without him.
Liverpool supporters will not remember January fondly.
On the pitch, a dismal run of one win from six games, causing them to lose further ground in the race for a top-four Premier League finish and crash out of the FA Cup. Off it, another transfer window without the midfield reinforcements they so desperately need.
They did of course secure the £45m signing of Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven, the Dutch forward showing flickers of his considerable talent in Sunday’s FA Cup fourth round loss to Brighton.
But that game was just the latest to highlight their long-standing issues at the heart of Jurgen Klopp’s team. Again, there was a lack of control in midfield. Again, their experienced players failed to deliver.
The winter window is of course a challenging one in which to do business. Particularly when the club of your primary target, in this case Jude Bellingham’s Borussia Dortmund, have no intention of entertaining offers until the end of the campaign.
But Liverpool’s midfield issues proved hugely damaging in the first half of the campaign and, for all his youthful promise, it is surely too soon to hold up Stefan Bajcetic as a short-term solution.
Instead, they must bank on Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Fabinho and the rest rediscovering their bite. Given what they have seen so far this season, supporters are entitled to wonder whether things could get worse before they get better.