Graham Potter explained his decision to hook Joao Felix at half-time in Chelsea’s 3-1 win over Leicester on Saturday.
Felix had a goal ruled out for offside and also hit the post in the first half at the King Power Stadium, before being replaced by Conor Gallagher.
With the game level at 1-1 at half-time after Patson Daka cancelled out Ben Chilwell’s opener, Kai Havertz’s fine finish and Mateo Kovacic’s late volley secured a big three points for Potter and Chelsea, who have now won three on the bounce in all competitions.
Asked after the game why he decided to take Felix off, Potter insisted his call was entirely tactical.
“Tactically I wanted to use an extra midfielder,” Potter explained.
“I felt we needed someone who could ball win, a different profile and I thought Conor was fantastic.”
Felix has looked good since his loan move from Atletico Madrid in January, but has scored just once and has failed to claim an assist in eight appearances for the club.
And former Chelsea midfielder Craig Burley says the Portugal international is a “frustrating” player to watch given his quality but lack of “end product”.
“Joao Felix is a bit frustrating,” Burley told ESPN FC.
“Because it’s in there. Some of the things he does are really good, but the end product for him is not there at the moment.
“He scored a goal but he was offside and that, again, was just down to his eagerness to get in there.”
Felix’s loan could be made permanent in the summer, but that may depend on whether they manage to qualify for the Champions League, which currently looks a tall order.
“Yeah, playing in the Champions League is always different,” Felix said last week. “It’s a competition that everyone wants to play.
“But now I’m focused on this Champions League, on the game. We have a lot of games yet to try to reach the Champions League in the league.
“It’s not over. But, yeah, playing in the Champions League is an important decision, but the future no one knows, so let’s see what happens and then we’ll see.”
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