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Tough decisions ahead as Potter handed expensive Chelsea jigsaw puzzle

Tough decisions ahead as Potter handed expensive Chelsea jigsaw puzzle

Chelsea manager Graham Potter during the match on Jan 12, 2023. (File photo: Reuters/David Klein)

LONDON: Chelsea manager Graham Potter admits there will be some awkward conversations as he attempts to piece together a costly jigsaw puzzle and turn the club's massive spending spree into success.

Potter's Chelsea host Fulham on Friday (Feb 3) with nearly £300 million (US$369 million) worth of January signings at his disposal.

The former Brighton and Hove Albion manager says he did not get involved in the "nitty gritty" of the eight incomimgs, culminating with Enzo Fernandez arriving for a British record £106 million from Benfica on deadline day.

Potter is certainly not complaining about the influx of talent, but knows finding the right blend between them and the existing squad will be a challenge.

"If you spend money, the external noise goes up. Resources are one thing, but you need to align them, make the right decisions, create an environment," he told a news conference.

"It's exciting, and a test for me and the staff. We have a lot of good players, we need healthy competition but there will be frustration at times, that's how it is.

"There will be a few awkward questions and conversations because only 11 can play and you can only have a certain amount in your match-day squad. It's about being honest and open and transparent and respecting the fact people want to play."

Potter did not rule out the 22-year-old World Cup winner Fernandez from making his debut against Fulham.

"We've got to go through the paperwork and get the clearance and all that. My Spanish isn't great and his English isn't great, but we'll get there. He is an impressive young man and we're looking forward to working with him," he said.

Potter might not have been expecting to still have Hakim Ziyech at his disposal but a deadline-day switch to Paris St Germain failed to complete.

"He trained this morning," Potter said of the Moroccan winger. "He is a professional and is committed to us and available for Fulham."

With Chelsea having spent in excess of £500 million since last May's takeover by an investment group led by American Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, their current league position of 10th is not what fans would have expected.

Potter, who replaced Thomas Tuchel in September, will hope that a win over seventh-placed Fulham can provide a springboard for a strong second half to the season.

"They've had a fantastic season. Credit to all the staff there, Marco (Silva) of course, the players have performed well and they are where they are on merit," he said of Fulham who beat Chelsea 2-1 at Craven Cottage in January.

Chelsea announced earlier on Thursday that Laurence Stewart had joined the club as co-sporting director to work alongside Paul Winstanley who took up his role in November.

"They oversee the entire sporting team, comprising talent, scouting, recruitment and data," the club said.

"They will work closely with Graham Potter and his coaching team to support the men's first team."

Stewart was previously technical director at AS Monaco.

Source: Reuters/lk

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