Potter responds to criticism of Joao Felix after scoring just one Chelsea goal

Graham Potter has praised Joao Felix’s impact for Chelsea since joining in January despite only netting once for the club so far and coming under fire from the Spanish press.

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The west London club paid a loan fee of around £10million – and agreed to take on his mammoth salary in full – in order to sign the Portugal international on loan until the end of the season.

However, he was sent off in his debut against Fulham and has only scored once for the Blues, netting in a 1-1 draw against West Ham at the start of February.

Felix has looked lively in his six outings – five in the Premier League and one in the Champions League – but Saturday’s narrow win over Leeds United was the first time he has been on the winning side for his new club.

By contrast, Atletico Madrid have been on an unbeaten run in their eight La Liga matches since Felix left – scoring 15 goals in the process – which has prompted criticism of the 23-year-old in the Spanish press and led to further questions over whether he still has a future at his parent club.

Potter, though, has been delighted with the way Felix has played since moving to Stamford Bridge and is convinced more goals will come.

Speaking ahead of facing Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of their last-16 tie, Potter said: ‘Well we’re really happy with him – provided he’s not tackling anybody on the half-way line!

‘His quality is clear, in terms of: he can receive the ball in tight spaces, makes things happen from an attacking perspective.

‘I think he’s hit the bar twice, scored as well and had some other chances. So he’s got that quality as well to finish.

‘The fact that he can play in a few positions is good. We’ve tended to use him more centrally but he has the ability to play pretty much anywhere in the attacking phase of the game.’

On what is required to beat Bundesliga title challengers Dortmund on Tuesday evening, Potter continued: ‘We have to play well, we have to be positive. It’s a special occasion for us, in front of our supporters, to try to get into the last eight of the Champions League.

‘We’ve had some games where we could have scored more than one, I think for sure, and we want those games, those performances, tomorrow night. It’s as simple as that.

‘We’re playing against a top team, a team that’s in a good place, the amount of wins they have. It’s not going to be easy.

‘But the boys are in a good place, they’re confident, they’re motivated, they’re together. We want to take the challenge on and give it our best.’

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