Potter confident Chelsea can still push for top 4 but says new signings need to gel

LONDON -- Chelsea head coach Graham Potter has said he remains "confident" his side can make a push to qualify for the Champions League next season, despite sitting nine points behind fourth-placed Manchester United.

Chelsea took their transfer spending under owner Todd Boehly above £500 million when they signed midfielder Enzo Fernandez from Benfica on deadline day, and he made his debut on Friday as they were held to a goalless draw against Fulham at Stamford Bridge. It was their third such result in their last six Premier League games.

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Potter's side, who are ninth in the Premier League with 30 points after 21 games, have just one win in their last seven and could drop into the bottom half of the table this weekend.

When asked if he was confident the team could still qualify for next season's Champions League, Potter said: "I'm confident with the potential we have. I'm confident with the ability we have within the group."

Fernandez was Chelsea's seventh January arrival as the club spent over £300m last month. Other signings included Benoit Badiashile, David Datro Fofana, Andrey Santos, Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke and Malo Gusto.

"What we need to do now is gel the team," Potter added. "That's the challenge, that's what we have to do. There's still more football to play, but at the same time I don't want to worry about what we're going to do in four, five months' time. I need to focus on the next day, the training session and the next game."

Asked about Fernandez's debut, specifically, Potter said he was pleased with what he saw from the World Cup winner, just 72 hours after his signing.

"Very good, considering he's been in the country not very long," Potter told Sky Sports. "He doesn't know us, we don't know him so well but I think you can see flashes of his quality and personality. He'll get better and better."

Managers Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola said earlier on Friday they were puzzled by how Chelsea were able to afford to continue so heavily. However, Potter said it is important not to focus just on transfer fees.

"I think you have to look at it all in terms of transfer fees and salaries" Potter said. "You can sign someone for less of a transfer fee but the salaries are enormous, so it just depends on how you structure the contract, how you structure the deal.

"But we're confident in what we're doing and I think we've done a good job and now my job is to improve the team."