Not so long ago, things looked pretty bleak for Graham Potter.
Chelsea squandered money in January, beating record Premier League transfer fees and handing out seven- and eight-year deals to some of Europe’s most promising players.
However, these expenses did not have the desired immediate effect: from the beginning of January to the end of February, the Blues scored only one victory.
However, March marked a period of recovery and although Chelsea remain in 10th place in the top flight, ahead of relegation-threatening Everton on Saturday, they have won their last three games, including beating Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. .
It looks like the pressure on Potter has eased and Chelsea will now focus on securing a place in Europe next season, which, given their extraordinary spending, will be the least of what Todd Boley & Co. is counting on.
But how are each of Chelsea’s new recruits doing midway through the season?
Benoît Badiashile (Grade: B)
Badiashile was the first to cross the threshold at Stamford Bridge in January, arriving from Monaco on a deal worth around €38m (£33.7m).
A powerful left centre-back, Badiashile has been a regular at Monaco and at 21 he still has a long career ahead of him. He has made seven league appearances since his move to England, starting six of those games, although he was not included in the Blues’ Champions League squad.
Joao Felix (Grade: B)
Joao Felix’s relationship with Diego Simeone reportedly became strained in the first half of the season, with Atlético Madrid’s record-breaking signing providing the chance to rediscover his spark in England.
Whether this loan deal will be made permanent remains to be seen, but the Portuguese striker has certainly shown flashes of his immense talent, even if it hasn’t always translated into goals. A promising debut was marred by a red card after an ill-advised play against Fulham’s Kenny Tete that saw Joao Felix suspended for three matches, but has made eight appearances since his return, starting each.
Only Kai Havertz has scored more expected goals (xG) than Joao Felix (3.83) for Chelsea during that time, and data shows the former Benfica prodigy had no luck finishing it, scoring one of the expected goals goals on target (xGOT) 2.95. In fact, based on the quality of his attempts, you can expect him to score three goals already, as well as hit the post three times.
David Datro Fofana (Class: C)
Despite all Chelsea’s affairs, in the January window they did not sign a well-established striker. Fofana is perhaps best suited to the position of the players they have brought in, but the 20-year-old Ivory Coast international is extremely raw.
Fofana scored 15 goals in the elite series in 2022 for Molde, but the Premier League is a long way from Norway’s top flight. He made three appearances for the Blues, one in the FA Cup and two in the league. However, his only start did not go according to plan, as he was taken off at half-time in a 1–0 home loss to modest Southampton. Fofana made two key passes and also made two shots, but since that defeat on February 18, he has not played in the senior matches.
Andrew Santos (Rating: N/A)
Another one for the future, Santos has just turned 18. He is back on loan for Vasco da Gama in Brazil, where he worked his way through the ranks and made his debut at the age of 16.
Mikhail Mudrik (Class: C)
Chelsea won the fight for the national team of Ukraine Mudryk, ahead of league leaders Arsenal. However, the fee payout, which could be as high as £89m (€100m), means expectations are sky-high.
An impressive cameo against Liverpool was followed by a start against Fulham, but the 22-year-old was substituted at half-time after failing to shoot, create a chance or pass.
Mudrik has been in and out of Potter’s starting XI and has yet to score, although he did make his first assist by heading Mateo Kovacic in a 3-1 win over Leicester City last week. Chelsea fans will have to be patient, but there’s a reason the winger was in such high demand at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Noni Madueke (Class: C)
Just five days after Mudrik’s arrival, Chelsea decided to sign another winger. Madueke looked set to fill the void Kodi Gakpo at PSV following the Netherlands international’s move to Liverpool, but the Blues decided they needed to bolster their forward options.
Like Badiaxile and Fofana, Madueke was not listed in Chelsea’s Champions League squad, so he is only an option in the Premier League at the moment. He made four appearances and two starts, creating five scoring chances.
Madueke has a lot of potential but it seems like he would be better off staying at PSV and getting more playing time.
Little Taste (Level: N/A)
Like Santos, defender Gusto returned on loan to the club he was signed from, Lyon, who were reportedly paid £26m (€29.7m) by Chelsea towards the end of the transfer window. The 19-year-old was a regular in Ligue 1 until he suffered a thigh muscle injury in early February and has yet to return to action.
Enzo Fernandez (Level: B+)
The icing on the very expensive Chelsea cake came on deadline day when they broke the British transfer record by signing World Cup midfielder Fernandes from Benfica for a hefty £106.7m (€120m).
Fernandez played a crucial role in Argentina’s success in Qatar, but he only had half a season in Europe behind him, and the 22-year-old moved to Benfica only last year from River Plate.
He has started in all eight matches in which he has been available and has shown dominance in possession – João Felix’s superb cross against West Ham and Kai Havertz’s exquisite pass against Leicester have resulted in assists.
Fernandes has already completed 264 more passes than any other Chelsea player since his debut (623) and has the most open shooting streaks (24) and his 96 duels and 44 duels won are also team records at this time.
The goal has so far eluded Fernandez and Karim Adeyemi overpowered him too easily for the winners Dortmund in the Champions League round of 16 first leg last month, but it was a strong start.