Gianfranco Zola has compared Chelsea record signing Enzo Fernandez to Cesc Fabregas and explained why the club should stick by under-fire manager Graham Potter.
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Chelsea signed Fernandez in a £107m deal from Benfica in January, making the Argentina World Cup winner the most expensive signing in Premier League history.
While the 22-year-old has only made three appearances for his new club, Zola is already convinced he will be a hit at Stamford Bridge and says the midfielder reminds him of former Chelsea, Arsenal and Barcelona star Fabregas.
‘I was very impressed with Enzo against West Ham,’ Zola told Sky Sports. ‘He has replaced a player who I have a lot of respect for in Jorginho.
‘I respect him not only as a player but as a leader, he had a big contribution at Chelsea. I am sorry to see him go but Enzo looks very good. I was so impressed with his qualities.
‘The speed of mind when he’s playing reminds me of Cesc Fabregas. Cesc was unbelievable, before he got the ball he knew where it had to go and within seconds it was dispatched exactly where he wanted.
‘Enzo has similar qualities and has a lot of physicality as well. I’m impressed with him, he can be a really important player for us.’
Zola also discussed the pressure mounting on Chelsea manager Potter following the club’s struggles domestically and in Europe.
The Blues have slipped to 10th in the Premier League under the former Brighton boss, 10 points behind fourth-placed Newcastle United.
Chelsea were hoping to put their underwhelming domestic form to one side in the Champions League this week but Borussia Dortmund won the first leg 1-0 to pile more pressure on Potter.
Zola admits Potter’s side are not meeting the ‘standards’ required at Stamford Bridge but has urged Chelsea’s owners to give the 47-year-old more time.
‘Graham is a very qualified coach,’ Zola added. ‘He’s done well in different leagues so hopefully he can do well at Chelsea.
‘It’s a different scenario for him and he will have to adapt. But it’s worth having faith and giving him time I think.
‘I can understand it’s difficult at the moment because he has a lot of young players – good, young players – but still young that are adapting from different leagues.
‘It’s not easy for them, it is not easy for the manager. But unfortunately the requirements at Chelsea are now different, they’ve been so successful in recent years so the standards and the requirements are higher now.
‘We all know how Roman Abramovich did things but this is a new era. They are trying to establish a new mentality and a new way.
‘I feel for Graham because I know what it’s like to have too many players, it’s not easy to coach everyone and create a good atmosphere. It’s a tough job for him right now.’
Chelsea will look to get back to winning ways and make up ground on their Premier League rivals on Saturday when managerless Southampton travel to west London.
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