Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Football London
Football London
Adam Newson

Brave Enzo Fernandez decision pays off as Chelsea plan for Mykhailo Mudryk becomes clear

After a lavish summer in which more than £270million was spent on new signings, there was genuine intrigue as to how new Chelsea owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali would tackle the winter transfer window. Yet nobody quite predicted how January would play out.

Chelsea didn't just go big, they went bigger than any club before. Eight players arrived in deals that totalled more than £300million. The squad overseen by Graham Potter ballooned as a result, but there was no Chelsea supporter that wasn't caught up in the excitement of the window.

"You look at the age of the players, where they are in their careers, and a combination of the investment in the transfer fee and salary has made good sense for us and where we're at," Potter told Sky Sports once January was over. "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.

READ MORE: Thiago Silva brilliant, Mount poor, Enzo Fernandez hype - Chelsea 2022/23 player ratings so far

"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."

Potter and his staff didn't achieve that in a winless February. Things have improved in March, however, and Chelsea are unbeaten in four matches. But how have the January signings fared? We have taken a look at how each of the eight players – and we've not included Gabriel Slonina as he was signed in August – have got on thus far.

Benoit Badiashile

It was in late December that Chelsea stepped up their interest in the France international. On January 5, his arrival from Monaco was confirmed in a deal worth around £35million.

Badiashile was eased into life at Stamford Bridge. He was an unused substitute in games against Fulham and Manchester City before being handed his first outing against Crystal Palace, a game Chelsea won by a single goal. Two further clean sheets were recorded against Liverpool and Fulham.

The 21-year-old has made eight appearances thus far in a Chelsea shirt and has performed strongly as part of a back four or on the left of a back three. He is likely to be a key figure in the first-team squad for seasons to come.

David Datro Fofana

A deal for the Ivorian was wrapped up prior to the transfer window, but his arrival from Molde was only confirmed on January 7 after Fofana received international clearance. The expectation was that the 20-year-old would head out on loan to continue his development, but Chelsea's injury issues meant he was thrust into the first-team picture.

Fofana made his debut as a half-time substitute during Chelsea's defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium and that was later followed by a 15-minute cameo off the bench against Fulham in the Premier League. His first start came when Southampton visited Stamford Bridge; the striker lasted 45 minutes before being replaced.

There is understandable excitement about Fofana's potential; he may prove an extremely shrewd signing in time. Yet he is raw and it's no great surprise that he has twice featured for the Chelsea Development Squad in the past fortnight. That may prove his best route to match minutes over the remainder of the season.

Andrey Santos

There were a number of European clubs interested in signing Santos from Vasco da Gama in January, but Chelsea won the race by agreeing to a deal worth up to £18million. That appeared a costly fee for the youngster but his performances at the Under-20 South America Championships proved otherwise.

Santos – still only 18 years old – led Brazil to the title with a series of dominant, goalscoring performances. The midfielder struck six times for the young Selecao side, a feat all the more impressive given Santos is a midfielder.

Work permit difficulties meant Santos could not feature for Chelsea this season and he returned to Vaso in February on a three-month loan deal. The Brazilian is expected to link up with Potter's squad in the summer and will be able to stake a claim for a first-team role in pre-season.

Joao Felix

Chelsea committed big money to bring in Felix on a six-month loan from Atletico Madrid; the Blues paid a fee of £9.7million and are covering his 250,000-a-week salary. That has understandably resulted in the Portuguese star instantly becoming a guaranteed starter under Potter.

Felix made his debut for Chelsea away at Fulham and impressed from minute one. Unfortunately, that appearance ended with the 23-year-old being shown a red card for violent conduct and Felix had to serve a three-match suspension. The Portugal international has started every game since his return and his array of flicks, tricks, subtle passes, and intelligent movement has won many hearts.

Two goals have also been scored; the most recent came against Everton at the weekend. Countless supporters have already called for Felix to be signed permanently in the summer. Whether that happens remains to be seen – and Atletico would certainly demand a hefty fee despite a fallout between Diego Simeone and the forward.

Mykhailo Mudryk

It was late evening on Friday, January 13, that Chelsea co-owner Behdad Eghbali and co-sporting director Paul Winstanley took a plane to Turkey to hold negotiations with Shakhtar Donetsk over a deal for Mudryk. The perceived wisdom was that the Ukraine international was destined for Arsenal. Chelsea ensured otherwise.

After a day of talks, Chelsea came to an agreement over a deal for Mudryk worth an initial £62million. The following afternoon, the winger was presented to supporters at half time of the victory over Crystal Palace. Mudryk's debut came the following weekend; a lively outing off the bench against Liverpool.

Consecutive starts against Fulham, Borussia Dortmund, and West Ham United followed before Mudryk was taken out of the starting XI. His only inclusion in the side since came at the King Power Stadium against Leicester City, a game which Chelsea won 3-1.

There has been concern about Mudryk's role under Potter. Yet there is little reason to be fearful. There is no issue with Chelsea easing the Ukrainian into life at Stamford Bridge, especially given he hadn't played competitive minutes for two months prior to his arrival. Mudryk is a long-term investment – and one that will very likely pay off in time.

Noni Madueke

Not content with signing one talented young winger, Chelsea added another in Madueke. The Blues paid an initial fee of £29million for the 21-year-old, who had impressed at Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.

Madueke didn't require the same period of adaptation as Mudryk, at least off the pitch. He was born in London and spent time in the academies of Crystal Palace and Tottenham before he decided to move to Holland at 16 years old. His debut came against Fulham before being handed back-to-back starts against West Ham United and Southampton.

The England Under-21 international looked sharp and inventive, but Potter's decision to change shape to 3-4-2-1 has directly limited Madueke's game time. He has played just six minutes in March and was an unused substitute against Everton prior to the international break.

Malo Gusto

Chelsea went into January looking to sign a right-back who could compete for minutes with Reece James. Their search ended late in the window as a deal worth £26million was agreed upon with Lyon for Gusto. However, there was a catch: the 19-year-old would remain on loan in Ligue 1 until the summer.

Fate then intervened. Gusto played three matches as a Chelsea loanee for Lyon. In the third, he suffered a hamstring injury and it was decided the France Under-21 international should undertake his rehabilitation at Cobham. Gusto has subsequently spent a month working with the Blues' medical team and he was spotted at the victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

Gusto may well return to Lyon before the end of the campaign but there can be little doubt his time at Chelsea's training base – and in England – will benefit him when he arrives permanently in the summer.

Enzo Fernandez

Chelsea saved their biggest signing of January to last – and we mean that literally. Only a few minutes of the window remained when the paperwork was submitted to the Premier League to confirm Fernandez's transfer from Benfica in a club-record deal worth up to £106.7million.

The Argentine required no time to settle. He was thrust into Potter's midfield after just two days as a Chelsea player and has started every game since. Fernandez's quality instantly shone through and he has become a true untouchable in the side; his scooped pass for Kai Havertz's goal against Leicester is the greatest example of why.

Still only 22 years old – although already a World Cup winner – Fernandez will be a fixture in the Chelsea midfield for years to come. No matter the system or those around him, his talent is undeniable. That £106.7million fee may well prove an astute piece of business.


Chelsea can secure £70m transfer windfall as Real Madrid eye swoop for Thomas Tuchel favourite

What Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did to anger Chelsea as Todd Boehly 'ready to rip up contract'

Chelsea can save £22m as Todd Boehly gifted perfect solution to Serie A striker transfer puzzle

Marc Cucurella makes honest £106m Enzo Fernandez admission as Chelsea star waits on invitation

Chelsea news and transfers LIVE: All the latest news, rumours and gossip from Stamford Bridge

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.