Graham Potter responds to claims Chelsea summer signing Denis Zakaria could leave in January
Graham Potter has played down suggestions that Chelsea summer signing Denis Zakaria could leave Stamford Bridge in January. The Blues signed Juventus midfielder Zakaria on loan over the summer and have the option to make his move permanent at the end of the season. But Zakaria is yet to feature for Chelsea, sparking speculation that the Switzerland international could leave the Premier League club when the transfer window reopens in January.
Potter, though, insists Zakaria remains an ‘important member’ of his squad and says the 25-year-old is ‘ready to help the team’ in the coming weeks. Chelsea, who are fourth in the Premier League after winning four games in a row since Thomas Tuchel’s sacking, play eight games in the next four weeks before the winter break for the World Cup. Asked if there had been any talks about letting Zakaria leave in January, Potter said:
‘There has been no decision made at all on that. Denis has been in the group and he’s been training well. ‘He’s ready to help the team but obviously there’s competition for places in that area. There’s no talks [about leaving]. ‘He’s an important member of the team. He’s being patient and trying to help the team from the side at the moment. He’s waiting for a chance.’
Zakaria, who has 42 caps for Switzerland, only made 11 appearances for Juventus before the Italian club agreed to send him to Chelsea over the summer. Speaking last month, the midfielder said he was desperate to convince Chelsea to hand him a permanent contract at Stamford Bridge. Zakaria told The Athletic:
‘Of course. If you don’t do good, you don’t have the chance to stay. ‘Chelsea is a big club and if you’re not good enough, you can’t stay at this club. I am here to prove I deserve to be here, that I am a good player and I can help the team. We will see what happens at the end.’
He added: ‘I hope only the best for Juventus. I hope they can win the title in Italy and I would be very happy for that. ‘Juventus is a big, big club, like Chelsea. I learnt a lot there, with big, big players. And I can only be grateful for that because they gave me a lot of chances and everything.
‘I am a fan of Juventus and I follow Juventus, of course. But now I am a Chelsea player, so I’m focused here and I want to give my best to help the team. For me, I’m a new player, but I feel like I’ve been here one or two years already. ‘It was not an easy solution [to join Chelsea] but in the end, I am a player, I need also this challenge to be better. ‘For me, I am better when I take challenges. To change everything, like language, is not easy, but I think I can do it.’