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Football London
Football London
Scott Trotter

Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke face Chelsea reality as summer transfer choices await

When Mykhailo Mudryk entered the pitch at Anfield for his first appearance in Chelsea colours it was almost impossible to think that the Blues had not spent their money well. The £62million signing gave an exciting first impression that left James Milner in a spin and Graham Potter with a mouthwatering prospect on the wing.

That electric cameo perhaps wasn't a perfect sign of things to come. The Ukraine international arrived at Stamford Bridge lacking match fitness having not played since November and Potter instead carefully managed the 22-year-old's minutes in the following weeks.

Mudryk has made seven appearances since his January arrival and was left on the bench as Chelsea twice gave up their lead to draw with Everton at the weekend. Many questioned the introduction of Christian Pulisic to the starting lineup while more cast doubt over the quality of Potter's substitutions that saw the former Shakhtar Donetsk winger remain on the bench.

READ MORE: Graham Potter's alternative reason for hoping for success in Chelsea vs Real Madrid clash

It's easy to understand why supporters would hope to see Mudryk build on the momentum he started to find against Leicester but despite a lofty fee and burgeoning reputation, it was perhaps unrealistic to expect more from a January squad.

Mudryk is not in a unique situation. Noni Madueke also joined in January for a not insignificant sum and has struggled for minutes with just four appearances since his return to London. The former PSV star is not even eligible to feature in the Champions League having not been one of the three players added to Chelsea's European squad.

There is no shortage of competition for the pair to beat. In addition to Pulisic, Potter has Hakim Ziyech, Raheem Sterling and even the likes of Mason Mount to call upon in the position. That is not to mention other roles to meet in the front three with Kai Havertz and Joao Felix.

The Chelsea head coach has been both persistent and consistent in his selection of Havertz to lead the line, even in a more reserved role alongside the likes of Sterling or Mudryk - the German international has been favoured over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and David Datro Fofana. Since moving to a back three, that in itself puts a limit on the positions available.

Joao Felix's loan deal, in addition to his positive impact, means that the Portugal international is always likely to be among Chelsea's starting lineup. That leaves one highly contested spot remaining in the front three.

That does raise the question whether the likes of Mudryk and Madueke's involvement should be prioritised over stars who may not be at the club next season. There may be interest in extending Felix's stay but he is set to depart come the end of his loan, while Pulisic and Ziyech have both been linked with departures across multiple transfer windows and the former will soon enter the final year of his contract.

However, there may still be a time and place for Potter to select each of his charges. Pulisic's selection against the Toffees likely came with their low block in mind and the American's ability in around the box and with the Champions League still to play for, decisions for individual matches must still be taken with little other than victory mattering.

Following the international break however, the path of Chelsea's season will be more clear and the degree at which plans for now versus next term are made could change. For the moment, both Madueke and Mudryk have been given time to acclimatise to a new environment, and a testing one given the size of the squad.

Potter has the test of keeping 30 players invested, and may find the opportunity to be more brutal in the coming weeks as decisions are made by or for players in his squad and his new wingers are likely to only see their role grow into next season.


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