CHELSEA boss Graham Potter will have to tell FOUR of his new Blues they are NOT in his Champions League squad when the knockout stage kicks off this month.
Potter has sanctioned a stunning January spending splurge, capped off by the British record deal to bring Argentina ace Enzo Fernandez to Stamford Bridge.
The South American follows Ukrainian winger Mykhailo Mudryk, French defender Benoit Badiashile, Ivorian striker David Datro Fofana, English winger Noni Madueke and teenage Brazilian Andrey Santos into SW6, alongside loan capture from Atletico Madrid Joao Felix.
But Uefa’s Champions League regulations only allow clubs to change THREE of their senior list of players for the knock-out stage.
And that means Potter faces the unenviable task of having to give the bad news to the unlucky quartet.
Mudryk, Badiashile, Madueke, Fofana and Santos were all born after January 1, 2001, the cut-off date for the “B List” of players who can be registered to play.
But as they have only joined the club, none of them meet the secondary criteria of having been registered for two seasons.
It seems likely that Fernandez, Mudryk and Joao Felix will be the trio given the green light to be part of the squad for the last 16 tie with Borussia Dortmund.
That will mean fingers crossed for no more defensive injuries, with Potter having to stick with Trevoh Chalobah, Kalidou Koulibaly or Cesar Azpilicueta alongside first-choice centre-back Thiago Silva, unless the injury-stricken Wesley Fofana cane return to the fray.
Prem rules – which do not apply in any event in January – allow multiple squad changes for the second half of the season, meaning all the new players would be eligible to play in the League – although Chelsea are still understood to be awaiting a work permit for Santos.
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There was a major outgoing at Stamford Bridge in the January transfer window.
Italian midfielder Jorginho departed for league leaders Arsenal.
The Euro 2020 winner’s contract was due to expire in the summer.