Chelsea manager Graham Potter has confirmed his intention to trim his squad in the summer window, though contract rebel Mateo Kovacic is one player he doesn’t want to lose.
The west London club brought in nine new signings in the January window and although some of those players were loaned straight out, it has left the squad extremely bloated.
Potter was forced to leave the likes of Benoit Badiashile and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of Chelsea’s Champions League squad, while every week several big names don’t make the bench for Premier League games – a problem that is only being exacerbated as players return from injury.
Most managers prefer to work with smaller, more manageable squads – resulting in fewer disgruntled fringe players – and Potter intends to address that issue in the summer.
‘The longer you’re working with each other the better it gets. At the same time there’s still things we need to carry on improving with,’ he told Sky Sports.
‘The size of the squad is something we have to look at for the summer, but in the meantime that’s what we’re working with.
‘I think as I’ve said before, the players have been fantastic in terms of how professional, how together and how supportive they have been of each other regardless of the fact that we are where we are.’
One player Potter is keen to keep is Kovacic, who is out of contract in the summer of 2024 and been linked with a reunion with Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich.
The Chelsea boss is hopeful he will agree new terms, though, saying: ‘Mateo is similar to Mason [Mount]. He is someone I have a huge respect for as a person. He’s been great with us, very supportive, he plays a role in the team and has been the captain the last few games as well.
‘So from my perspective he is important but again, it’s also between Mateo and the club to talk and when they have something to announce, I am sure they will announce it.
‘I think the club has conversations with players all the time. It just doesn’t necessarily mean it’s public. These things happen behind the scenes and when we’ve got something to report, we can report it.’
He added: ‘He had a tough pre-World Cup because he had a bit of an ongoing knee issue that he’s been nursing and getting through pretty much all season. So that’s been a challenge for him. But the way he’s handled himself has been absolutely fantastic.
‘He’s done the work behind the scenes to be available all the time, play the World Cup, and I think the World Cup was maybe a great experience for him and a break from everything.
‘He has come back in a really good way and the last couple of weeks, he’s really stepping up and showing his quality, showing his leadership, and he has turned into a goal-machine during the international break so that is good for us.’
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