Pochettino issues challenge to Chelsea's high-profile recruits

Blues manager tells his players that they must prove their worth

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino says his players must prove they deserve to play. Reuters
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Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has challenged his big money recruits to prove they are worth a place in his team.

The Blues head to West Ham on Sunday (7.30pm UAE time) freshly bolstered by the arrivals of Romeo Lavia and long-time target Moises Caicedo, signed on Monday from Brighton for a British record £115 million.

That made it eight new recruits this summer, meaning that despite several departures, the Blues squad still has a hefty look to it giving Pochettino numerous options in most positions.

The Argentine was quizzed about the problems that could arise from having so many players and also the fact that many of them have been handed long contracts.

However, Pochettino said it was now up to the players to prove who deserved to play and even stay at the club.

“Players that aren’t happy and don’t want to fight for their place, to be part of the team, playing or not playing, the door is open [to leave],” he said.

“The players have a clear idea that they need to compete for their place and then it’s the coach that is going to decide who are the best for every single game.

“It’s not that if we sign a player and we spend big money, that they are sure to play. I don’t tell Moises or Lavia ‘you are going to play, whether you are good or bad’. It’s not like this, football.

“Talented players, players that the club spends money on, they need to show every day that they deserve to play.

“My job is to be fair with everyone in the squad. You sign a player on an eight-year contract and after (that) he doesn’t run, is not involved, no commitment – is he going play? That is our job. It’s our judgement.

“I have the support of the owner, I have the support of the sporting director, so far. They need to trust in our judgement. It’s not the people of social media, it’s our judgement.”

Chelsea have created a policy of giving out longer-than-usual contracts under the ownership of Todd Boehly’s Clearlake group, with deals of between six and eight years instead of the normal four or five.

It was suggested to Pochettino that such deals could create issues with discipline, but he said: “If you have an eight-year contract, you need to be responsible.

“Players need to show respect, need to show commitment, need to show the performance that we expect from them. If not, they’re not going to play.

“The player cannot be upset. If we sign a player and give an eight-year contract and then the player is not going to do what we expect or what he needs to do and then he doesn’t play, it’s because of him, not because of us.

“They need to give their best and for sure if they have the talent that we assume and we paid for them, they are going to play."

Updated: August 19, 2023, 2:32 PM