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Graham Potter expecting Chelsea to mount serious title challenge

Chelsea v Brighton and Hove Albion – Premier League – Stamford Bridge
(Image credit: Steven Paston)

Brighton boss Graham Potter believes Chelsea have unmistakable ambitions of mounting a Premier League title challenge following their hefty summer spending spree.

The Blues have splashed more than £200million to bring Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell and Malang Sarr to Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard’s side, who finished 33 points adrift of champions Liverpool last term having been under a transfer embargo last summer, begin the new campaign away to Albion on Monday evening.

While Chelsea manager Lampard has been eager to manage expectations following a busy time in the transfer market, Potter feels the west London club’s objective is obvious.

“The intention is clear – they want to compete, they want to compete at the top,” said Potter.

“They had a really good season last year in terms of finishing fourth with an embargo, introducing young players, and still managing to get into a Champions League spot was really good.

“I am guessing for a club like Chelsea and for somebody like Frank, who has competed at the top for all of his career, that they are going to push on and try to compete for the title.

“That’s pretty much what their intention looks like.

“They have recruited well, they’ve got some really good players, they’ve already got some really good players there so they will be a strong team, no doubt about that.”

Potter has been far more frugal with his pre-season spending.

England midfielder Adam Lallana has arrived on a free transfer from Liverpool, while Holland defender Joel Veltman was bought from Ajax for less than £1million.

Potter has also been content to allow a number of senior players leave Sussex, including Shane Duffy, Glenn Murray, Aaron Mooy and Martin Montoya.

The former Ostersunds and Swansea coach refused to rule out more arrivals but stressed his priority is to develop the players currently at his disposal.

“While the window is open, you have a responsibility to keep looking,” he said.

“You never know but the focus for me is on the players we have.

“We’ve got a lot of players in the group who had their first season in the Premier League last year. I think they can improve and get better.”

In addition to Lallana and Veltman, defender Ben White could also make his first top-flight appearance for the club against Chelsea.

The 22-year-old was heavily linked with a return to newly-promoted Leeds after impressing on loan at Elland Road last season but has since agreed a new four-year Albion contract.

Potter insists centre-back White was never distracted by the intense speculation.

“There was no disappointment from Ben at all at any stage,” said Potter.

“He came in from day one trained with us perfectly. No problems whatsoever.

“(He was) consistent with his behaviour, just got on with it. There’s a lot of speculation and noise out there always.

“We look forward to working with him, his first season in the Premier League.”