Ranking Chelsea’s winter moves: Enzo Fernandez stars, Joao Felix shows flashes, Mykhailo Mudryk looks for time

After a lot of activity in the January transfer window, Chelsea appear to finally be starting to gel under Graham Potter. With three wins on the bounce after a disappointing loss to Tottenham, the Blues have advanced to the last eight of Champions League and are building some momentum. But, some of those signings have played a bigger role than others in the turnaround as Todd Boehly looks to get his club on the path to silverware.

Let’s rank their winter signings from worst to best so far as we enter mid March:

6. FWD, David Fofana (3 games played in all competitions)

Key stats: Three shots, two shots on target
What to know: With the struggles for Chelsea strikers, Fofana is someone who should receive more playing time over the remainder of the league season. Due to Chelsea’s best route to Champions League soccer next season being by winning the tournament, there will be a lot of time for experimenting in the Premier League. Only 20, Fofana did score a goal for the Chelsea U-21s this week but he has only appeared in two league matches for the Blues so far. It’s a fine balance when Havertz is the striker in Champions League so he needs the majority of the Premier League time too, but Potter will need to figure out creative ways to see what he has in Fofana as he could change Chelsea’s summer targets.

5. FWD, Noni Madueke (4 games played in all competitions)

Key stats: nine take-ons completed
What to know: Only playing a small role for Chelsea so far, it’s tough to see where Madueke fits in for the Blues right now. He’s a player who has potential but this is where having so many wingers is a problem. Madueke isn’t someone who will receive minutes over Raheem Sterling, Hakim Ziyech, or even Christian Pulisic, so he has to make do with limited minutes. 

4. FWD, Mykhailo Mudryk (7 games played in all competitions)

Key stats: One assist, two big chances missed, four chances created  
What to know: The transition to the Premier League is a big one for a player like Mudryk, who doesn’t have previous experience in a big five league. Grabbing his first assist for the club against Leicester City, Mudryk showed that he can make a difference if brought in during the right spots but Potter needs to figure out where those spots are. Christian Pulisic coming into Chelsea’s match against Dortmund showed that Mudryk needs to grow in order to gain trust in larger matches but for now, he’s further down the ranks until he’s able to establish a role.

3. FWD, Joao Felix (8 games played in all competitions)

Key stats: One goal, 78 final third passes completed, 42% shooting accuracy
What to know: A rough start to his Chelsea career getting red carded in only his second appearance for the team, Felix has missed some time but has quickly made up for it by interchanging with Kai Havertz to keep Chelsea’s attack ticking. Still working to gain an understanding with his teammates to stop being caught offside, Felix is someone primed for a breakout down the stretch for Chelsea. While he’s only on loan to the team, Felix is playing like he wants to be a permanent member of the side, something that Boehly certainly has enough money to make happen in the summer.

2. DEF, Benoit Badiashile (7 games played in all competitions)

Key stats: Three clean sheets, 22 aerial duels won, 23 long passes completed
What to know: A victim of the Champions League squeeze, Badiashile is a player who would make a big difference for Chelsea if he was able to be registered. He wasn’t one of their three new signings for the competition. He has had his nervy moments but the Frenchman will be a key member of this defense for years to come. When Thiago Silva and Kalidou Koulibaly slow down, Badiashile and Wesley Fofana will make sure that the defense won’t miss a beat. Strong in the air and able to spray the ball to forwards, Badiashile is held back due to Chelsea not having a proper target forward but when that forward comes over the summer, this will look like a completely different team.

1. MID, Enzo Fernandez (8 games played in all competitions)

Key Stats: Two assists, 87.7% passing accuracy, two through balls completed, nine interceptions, six possessions won in the attacking third.
What to know: Outside of Reece James, N’Golo Kante is arguably the most important player for Chelsea as the midfield is too easy to pass through without him which is why the Blues prioritized getting Fernandez at any cost necessary during the January transfer window. Since joining, he has fit in well, bringing steel to the center of the park while also linking attack and defense with ease. The way Fernandez pops up everywhere for the team, he makes jobs easier for both the defense and the attack while he’s also looking to play a progressive pass forward or shoot if space is given to him. It’s like Fernandez is playing chess the way that he is always thinking two moves ahead of what will happen when he passes the ball to ensure that it goes to the best place possible. Now linking up with Mateo Kovacic, Fernandez has formed a strong presence in midfield.

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