Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang omitted from Chelsea's Champions League squad; Enzo Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk and Joao Felix included but Benoit Badiashile not listed; Chelsea were only allowed to register three new players for the knockout stages; Chelsea face Borussia Dortmund in the last 16
Friday 3 February 2023 22:53, UK
Graham Potter admits it was a "tough decision" to omit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Chelsea's Champions League squad for the knockout stages.
Enzo Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk and Joao Felix were all included but there was no place for Aubameyang, or for Benoit Badiashile, who was not listed on Chelsea's UEFA squad page after joining in a £35m deal last month.
However, while Badiashile started in Chelsea's goalless draw with Fulham in the Premier League on Friday night, Aubameyang was not included in the matchday squad, fuelling suspicions of a rift with the manager which Potter rejected in his press conference.
"I don't think it's going to be difficult because Pierre is a professional," said Potter when asked if he expected any awkwardness with the striker.
"He's done nothing wrong at all. Pierre's just unfortunate. He'll be fighting for his place for the rest of the season.
"It was my decision. It was a tough decision. But sometimes you have to make these calls. It's nothing bad against him.
"It is difficult, it is tough, because I am empathic so I understand his disappointment, but I've got a responsibility which is to have these tough conversations and articulate my decisions as honestly as I can.
"Everything is up for grabs. He's got to keep working and train like he did today and be ready to play because football changes quickly. That's the nature of the game."
Chelsea were only allowed to register a maximum of three new players for the knockout stages of the Champions League, before taking on Borussia Dortmund in the last 16, starting on February 15.
All clubs are limited to a 25-man squad and Chelsea used 24 players in the group stage, with only one of them - Jorginho - leaving the club in the January transfer window. Clubs had to inform UEFA of their desired squad changes by 11pm on Thursday, February 2.
The three new registered players are allowed to have played for another club in European competitions this season, so being cup-tied for the knockout stages was not an option for any of the players.
Chelsea made eight signings in January for a combined total of £323.3m. Malo Gusto is staying on loan at Lyon and Andrey Santos is waiting for a work permit so that left Potter with the dilemma of picking three players from Fernandez, Mudryk, Felix, Badiashile, David Datro Fofana and Noni Madueke.
Aubameyang is included in Chelsea's 25-man Premier League squad along with their new signings as there are no restrictions on how many changes clubs can make. The deadline was also on Thursday.
The 33-year-old has not started for Chelsea since their 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal on November 6. He has scored three goals for the club having joined on Deadline Day last summer in a £10m deal from Barcelona which included Marcos Alonso going the other way.
Chelsea's Champions League squad:
* denotes B list player
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