During the summer of 2003, a Russian billionaire by the name of Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea football club.
In the years since it’s fair to say the club has seen plenty of success. Notably, two Champions League wins stand out as great moments, while the Blues have also won the Premier League on five different occasions.
Abramovich’s wealth allowed the club to go out and buy some of the world’s greatest talents.
Behind every trophy lift, there have been some fantastic players. Some, of course, came through the club’s academy – like John Terry – while other’s were scouted carefully and picked up on the cheap.
Though, that’s not to say there haven’t been a fair few flops too; some who were of the rather pricey variety.
Taking all that into account, here is football.london‘s best and worst transfers during the Abramovich era (in no particular order).
To kick things off, it’s hard to look past the club’s iconic striker. The Ivory Coast international arrived in London a year after Abramovich for a reported fee of £24million.
He played 381 times, scoring 164 goals, and claiming 87 assists. But it’s not just what he achieved as an individual, it’s the consistent level of success he helped the club maintain.
During his time at Chelsea, he had four league wins, four FA Cup wins, three League Cup wins, two Community Shields and a Champions League trophy.
£24million was a big price to pay at the time, but he was worth every penny.
In 2006, when the Blues found out Cole was having some contractual issues at Arsenal, they made their move. A £5million bid plus William Gallas was enough to seal a swap.
It’s quite possible that the Englishman was the best left-back in the world for close to a decade. He proved as much, winning countless trophies with the club in an eight-year spell.
Not only was Cole a fantastic signing, but having stolen him from the Gunners, the deal strengthened Chelsea while weakening one of their biggest rivals.
Since moving to Real Madrid, fitness issues have kept the Belgian from playing at his sparkling best. Chelsea fans, however, will not quickly forget the levels of talent he regularly displayed for their club.
You can talk about goals, assists, trophies – all of which he had in abundance at Chelsea – but Hazard is too much of a fun player for simple statistics such as those.
With a glint in his eye, the Belgian would pick up the ball from anywhere on the pitch, drop the shoulder, and effortlessly glide past his opponents. In terms of Chelsea players who have been able to get fans up onto their feet, very few compare with Hazard.
Another player with Real Madrid and Chelsea connections, but unlike Hazard, Makelele was a gem for both teams. Despite all the Galacticos in Madrid, it was widely felt that the midfielder was absolutely integral to Madrid’s success.
He came to Chelsea in 2003 and helped the Blues claim the Premier League trophy on two occasions. An FA Cup win, as well as three League Cups, also arrived during Makelele’s time.
If you’re looking for influential midfielders, not just at Chelsea, but in the modern game, the Frenchman should well and truly be in any conversation on the matter.
Costing just £7million, the Czech goalkeeper arrived from Stade Rennais in 2004 and is currently a key member within the club as technical and performance advisor.
He has 228 clean sheets under his belt for the Blues. To put that in context, Makelele only played 217 times for the club!
Of course, Cech doesn’t deserve credit just for his longevity. He also stepped up in some huge moments, such as the 2012 Champions League final, when he saved three penalties.
Let’s start with the Spaniard. Sure he had some great moments (just ask Gary Neville) but they were few and far between.
For the price he cost – £50million – and for what he had achieved at Liverpool, he never came close to living up to expectation.
And who could ever forget that open goal miss against Manchester United?
For those reasons, he makes this list.
When you have so much money, there can be the tendency to overspend, or even waste it at times. It’s fair to say this was probably the case when Chelsea gave Leicester £35million for Drinkwater.
Sure, he had just won the league with the Foxes. He looked excellent too, but that may well have all been down to N’Golo Kante’s presence beside him. At least the Blues had the wisdom to also sign the Frenchman.
He is still a Chelsea player but it is currently out on loan with Reading.
Now, obviously, there have been much worse players to have played for Chelsea in recent times, but Salah belongs on this list as he represents a huge mistake by the club.
He was signed for £11 million, he played just 19 times, and scored only two goals. He was then loaned to Fiorentina before later signing for Roma.
The success he has consequently had at Liverpool makes him one of Chelsea’s worst signings. It seems just incredible that he was so undervalued by the club. The same could be said about Kevin de Bruyne, and, at one stage, Romelu Lukaku too!
The Ukrainian fits into the same category of signing as Salah: great player, just not for Chelsea.
Unlike, the Egyptian, though, Shevchenko cos the club an eye-watering amount of money. Apparently, a personal target of Abramovich, the Blues paid AC Milan a then club-record £30million fee to sign the striker in the summer of 2006.
Things did not go to plan. Shevchenko scored just nine times in the league and was allowed to move back to Milan in 2008.
Perhaps it’s a little harsh, but again you have to take finances into account.
Sure, Adrian Mutu, Alexandre Pato, Mateja Kezman, and Radamel Falcao were not much better (if at all), but at the end of the day, Chelsea forked out a fee in the region of £70million for the Spaniard.
For that price, you expect quality. Morata, sadly, failed to deliver it on a regular basis. The striker quickly looked out of sorts in England and returned to Madrid (this time Atletico) around 18 months after signing for the Blues.