After Chelsea spent around $357 million during the January transfer window, manager Graham Potter was always going to have a job squeezing his new signings in.
And on Friday Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang became a high-profile casualty of that midseason shopping spree when he was cut from Chelsea’s squad for the Champions League knockout stages.
British record signing Enzo Fernandez, and other newcomers Mykhailo Mudryk and Joao Felix, were included in the 25-man list submitted to UEFA for the remaining rounds.
Only three new additions to the ‘A list’ of senior players are allowed, meaning the rest of Chelsea’s eight recruits missed out, including defender Benoit Badiashile, who was signed from Monaco for around $40 million in January.
Aubameyang, who was signed from Barcelona last summer and started all six of the group stage games, faces an uncertain future after his omission.
Potter admitted there would be “a few awkward conversations" in his bloated squad. And Aubameyang could find his playing time increasingly limited following the arrival of Portugal striker Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea spent more than top-flight teams in France, Spain, Italy and Germany combined in January as American owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital continued to invest heavily.
It followed $305 million worth of signings in the summer after the consortium bought the club for $2.5 billion last May.
Fernandez became the most expensive player in the history of British soccer after joining from Benfica for $131.4 million.
Mudryk signed from Shakhtar Donetsk in a deal worth around $108 million.
Chelsea’s spending spree piqued the curiosity of its rivals.
“I don’t understand this part of the business; what you can do, what you cannot do. However, it’s a big number in the last two windows," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said on Friday. “I don’t understand how it’s possible, but it’s not for me to explain how it works.”
Pep Guardiola referenced the scrutiny his Manchester City has faced since it was taken over by Abu Dhabi in 2008.
“It’s none of my business (but) it’s a surprise because it’s not a ‘state’ club,” Guardiola said. “What Chelsea do is not my business, I never involve opinions in other clubs because there are regulations, rules, that we have to do.
“But we were accused. I don’t forget, eight or nine teams in the Premier League sent a letter to the Premier League (for us) to be banned. That happened to us."
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