Noni Madueke became the 31st player to feature for Chelsea in the Premier League season when he replaced Mykhailo Mudryk against Fulham and became the latest to put his hand up for a place in the team. The former PSV star and England under-21 international made his debut for the Blues following his £35million transfer.
Upon the 20-year-old's arrival Graham Potter said: "He’s an exciting player and brings a left-footed attacking option for us and competition in that area of the pitch."
His outing against the Cottagers went some way to showing he could at least provide that on an evening when Enzo Fernandez also graced the Stamford Bridge pitch for the first time. The spotlight may been on Chelsea's record signing as the £106.7million midfielder came straight into the team but a tempered second display from Mudryk, who had suffered with a heavy cold in the build up to the game, offered Madueke his own chance to impress.
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After making his return to UK shores, Madueke explained what Chelsea supporters can expect. He said: "As a player, I like to get on the ball and be exciting. I look to take players on, beat players when dribbling, be creative and score goals for the team."
It did not take long for the Tottenham youth product to display those qualities. Like a number of Chelsea's January's signings, a quick introduction has led to an injection of impact and upfield progression.
Madueke featured initially on the left where he is more unfamiliar, and got to work. From the moment he took the ball from Harrison Reed in his own half he looked to spark something with a quick exchange with Fernandez before driving up the field, where the lack of precision in his final pass was the only thing missing.
The London-born star was light and lively on his feet probing for opportunities and when he moved to the right side upon Raheem Sterling's introduction, he further showed his willingness to drive with the ball. He further showed he could keep the ball moving and partnered well with Conor Gallagher in his exchanges down the flank.
The £35million signing produced a team-high two key passes and two dribbles for the Blues, and combined that with recording a comparable number of touches to Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech despite being on the pitch for fewer minutes. Potter noted that Madueke's arrival was to provide competition and his early promise may just show that the youngster wants to win it.
There is no shortage of players to keep out of the team, however. Mudryk and Ziyech, despite being set to head on loan to PSG earlier in the week, won out against Fulham, and Raheem Sterling featured from the bench, while Mount has taken a wide role in the past, Christian Pulisic is set to return from injury and the likes of Joao Felix once again become available against West Ham.
Potter has already admitted that it will be a challenge to keep his squad happy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has already fallen victim to the brutal decisions that await. However, the Blues boss wants his team to gel and that might require a hierarchy to form among his wingers. Madueke hasn't made that decision any easier.
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