Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang’s future has been placed into further doubt after the striker suffered the humiliation of being omitted from Chelsea’s 25-man Champions League squad.
Graham Potter was left with a tricky balancing act after the club brought in eight players during the January transfer window. Chelsea were able to register only three signings for the knockout stages of the Champions League – they have included Enzo Fernández, João Félix and Mykhailo Mudryk – and needed to make room by omitting one name from their initial list.
Chelsea, who face Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 had selected only 24 players for the group stage and given themselves more wriggle room by selling Jorginho to Arsenal. But another player had to go and Potter has decided that he can do without Aubameyang, who has failed to impress since joining from Barcelona last summer.
Potter could have left out the 19-year-old Carney Chukwuemeka to make space for Aubameyang or omitted the third-choice goalkeeper, Marcus Bettinelli, and called up a youth player in the event of injury to Kepa Arrizabalaga or Édouard Mendy. Bettinelli has played one game for Chelsea since joining in 2021.
Aubameyang has only scored three goals this season and cut a frustrated figure when he became a substituted substitute during Chelsea’s defeat by Manchester City last month. Potter has preferred to use Kai Havertz as his main striker, even though the German is not a traditional target man, and reports in Spain have claimed that Aubameyang wanted to return to Barça last month. It seems increasingly certain that the 33-year-old, who has less than 18 months on his deal, will look to leave in the summer.
Chelsea are unlikely to stand in Aubameyang’s way if they receive a suitable offer. The move has not worked out for either party. The Gabon international was signed to solve the team’s goalscoring problems and was looking forward to being reunited with Thomas Tuchel, who coached him at Borussia Dortmund. Chelsea would soon replace Tuchel with Potter, who has gradually eased Aubameyang out of the starting XI.
Potter has decided to go with Havertz, Broja, Félix and Mudryk as his forward options. Félix and Mudryk have bolstered the attack and Fernández, who joined for a British transfer record of £106.8m, was a mandatory pick in midfield. Chelsea have issues in midfield, with Jorginho sold and Denis Zakaria, N’Golo Kanté and Mateo Kovacic injured.
That convinced Potter to omit Benoît Badiashile, even though the centre-back has impressed since joining from Monaco. Chelsea have Thiago Silva, Trevoh Chalobah, Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly in central defence. The other new signings, Andrey Santos, Noni Madueke and David Datro Fofana, have been excluded. Malo Gusto was loaned back to Lyon.
Hakim Ziyech has also been included after his loan to Paris Saint-Germain collapsed on deadline day. Potter has said that Ziyech remains part of his plans.