Graham Potter says Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has done “nothing wrong” after being left out of Chelsea’s Champions League squad for the rest of the season.
Aubameyang flew to Milan after being told he would not be involved in the team’s Premier League game with Fulham on Friday night, which ended in a goalless stalemate as record signing Enzo Fernandez scored £106.5 million, his first game Blues.
The Argentina World Cup winner was one of three new signings added to Potter’s European selection ahead of the last-16 meeting with Borussia Dortmund on February 15, but the Blues boss insisted that striker Aubameyang, who joined from Barcelona last summer. , it was just a matter of numbers.
“He’s a professional,” Potter said. “I understand he will be disappointed. It was a tough call. Pierre is just miserable and will be fighting for his place for the rest of the season.
“Whatever decision we made there was always a conversation about it. It was my decision. You have to make these calls. He has done nothing wrong.
“I have a responsibility to communicate these decisions as best I can to the player. He’s handled it really well, he trained really well today.”
Potter’s side were held to a goalless draw by a well-drilled Fulham side whose performance at Stamford Bridge did much of the optimism that rose around Chelsea in the final days of the transfer window.
Fernandez, who signed in the final hours before Tuesday’s transfer deadline, was heavily involved but was unable to provide the spark his new team needed to unseat Fulham as the hosts’ indifferent league form continued to one win in six games and they continued at least. in the race to make the top four.
The former Benfica midfielder came close to winning for Chelsea late on when his first-time effort went just beyond goalkeeper Bernd Leno and fell off the post. However, it was also new signing David Fofana – a modest £10m capture from Molde – who had the best chance when defender Tim Ream cleared his late effort.
“I thought he handled himself great,” Potter Fernandez said.
“You could see his quality, see what he will bring to the team. It wasn’t easy for him or for us because he hasn’t been with us that long. But I’m excited about it.
“I think we have a lot of positivity and a good feeling, certainly from the start of the game, and the crowd helped that. Within the team there was a good feeling.
“I agree that we didn’t do enough in terms of our attack to create more, which we need to do.
“That connection, that fluidity and that understanding, we probably lacked a little bit, which is understandable when you have players coming back from injury and new players in the team. That’s exactly where we are right now.
“In the Premier League against organized defensive units, you are always on your toes. Some positive things from us, I thought the effort was there, the spirit was there. But as an attacking team we want to do more.”
Fulham boss Marco Silva was pleased with his side’s performance as they secured a well-deserved point away from Stamford Bridge.
“It was a proper derby,” said Silva. “A good derby from us.
“From the first minute the players understood the plan and executed it well. We were here to accept the challenge, to face them and to play against Chelsea.”