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Top Eleven* Chelsea Signings of the Last Eleven Years

...and the worst eleven, too, plus some (dis)honorable mentions as well

FBL-ENG-PR-PFA-CHELSEA-KANTE-HAZARD Photo credit GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

Times are changing at Chelsea Football Club, and the club’s new owners have set out to change the way the club go about player recruitment, transfers, and squad planning.

Given that initiative, it felt appropriate to have a glance at our eleven* best signings of the last eleven* years. And the eleven* worst as well. It’s a fascinating journey through our recent history, with a surprising number of brilliant signings, and (one shocking window in the summer of 2017 aside) very few outright misses. Which surprised me. The narrative feels like we’ve only ever made poor signings.

This is invariably a subjective exercise, so I’d love to hear what others think. I’ve decided to use the metric of “did he bring us silverware” to decide the top eleven.* The first nine felt easy, and then it got really tough. For the worst signings, I felt like emphasizing signings that came with big reputations, price tags and didn’t deliver. There’s also intangibles. Things like “did he shift our culture one way or another”, or “did he become a cult favourite”.

Without further ado, here’s our top eleven!*

*It started as a top ten list. But then I wanted to shoe-horn Eden Hazard in, so I could write a little bit more about him. Plus, there’s eleven players on a team.

All transfer fees in dollars and from Transfermarkt. All stats are up to date as of November 14, 2022.


“Shoo-ins.”

These are the guarantees. In my mind there’s no debate. There can’t be a debate. The term “world class” is very appropriate.

Eden Hazard Agrees Terms with Chelsea FC Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Eden Hazard

Summer 2012, $38 million
(352 appearances, 110 goals, 2x Premier League, 2x Europa League, 1x FA Cup, 1x League Cup)
It’s still incredible to think the best young player in the world decided, on Twitter, back in 2012 that he was to join us, Chelsea. What a career he had with us. Truly one of the greatest Chelsea players ever. On talent alone, it’s hard to argue against him. There’s nothing quite like the sound and sight of Chelsea fans at the Bridge the moment Hazard would pick up the ball in the final third. A whispered gasp, everyone stands, stares and holds their breath, you can hear a few isolated yells, and then he shimmies one way, shimmies the other, a quick burst of speed, stops on a dime. What a player. I’d take him back in a heartbeat, as he liked to say, why not? I’ve written thousands of words about dear Eden. What a player.

Chelsea Training and Press Confernece Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Thiago Silva

Summer 2020, free
(99 appearances, 5 goals, 1x Champions League, 1x Super Cup)
It’s equally incredible that the co-greatest defender of his generation, of the last fifteen years (I see you Chiellini, we could argue all day on this one) chose to join us, Chelsea. Right after we barely finished 4th in the league, with an ascendant City and Liverpool properly aeons ahead of us. Single-handedly dragged us back into the echelons of super club status with his presence and stature alone. Easily the best thing Frank Lampard did as a manager. (I see you youth and Mount in particular. I raise you, we had to play youth no matter the manager that year because of the transfer embargo and Mount’s talent and attitude would have guaranteed that any manager would pick him.)

Chelsea Presents New Signing N’Golo Kante Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

N’Golo Kanté

Summer 2016, $39 million
(262 appearances, 13 goals, 1x Champions League, 1x Premier League, 1x Super Cup, 1x Europa League, 1x FA Cup )
It’s scarcely believable that we got away with this one. Anyone could have got him, he was up for grabs that summer, but he came here. Because he wanted to be here. Look at it this way, when N’Golo was 12, Claude Makélélé joined Chelsea. When he was 14, Essien. 15 for Mikel. And don’t forget Lassana Diarra or Geremi! As a teenage footballer, you inevitably look up to players. Generally players who play like you. Or players that reflect you. I always saw bits of myself in Patrick Kluivert and Rivaldo as a child (ridiculous, heady dreams of 8-year-olds are a beautiful moment in life). He probably always wanted to play for Chelsea. Continuing our strong decades-long legacy of having a world class player of African descent patrolling our midfield.

(One of my personal favourite things about Chelsea is, despite our history of xenophobia and racism, in the ‘90s, when I became a fan as a young Black kid in London, Chelsea were the cosmopolitan team. They were trendy, foreign, fashionable, from West London. Ruud Gullit, Gianfranco Zola, Robbie Di Matteo, Gus Poyet, Babayaro, Petrescu, Desailly and Flo. You actually have to go back to the 95/96 season for the last time Chelsea’s squad was half English.)


“I can’t believe they were so cheap.”

Seriously. How were they so cheap? Both became trophy-winning club captains. Can you really ask for more?

Soccer - Chelsea Training Session - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

César Azpilicueta

Summer 2012, $9 million
(493 appearances, 17 goals, 1x Champions League, 2x Premier League, 2x Europa League, 1x Super League, 1x FA Cup, 1x League Cup)
Only two players have lifted the Champions League as captain. Only one actually played in the final. When all is said and done, he’ll go down as our second greatest captain ever — apologies to Dennis Wise. A wonderful servant to the club, always gives his all. As we know, I could win the Champions League with 11 Azpilicueta’s. And how José, and how.

Chelsea FC Sign Gary Cahill Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Gary Cahill

January 2012, $9 million
(290 appearances, 25 goals, 1x Champions League, 2x Premier League, 2x Europa League, 2x FA Cup, 1x League Cup)
Only two players have lifted the Premier League as captain.* We signed him from a Bolton Wanderers team that got relegated later on that very season. He was their shining light, and was 26 at the time, so was clearly slated for a bigger move regardless of Bolton’s plight. He wasn’t to blame. Imagine, four months after leaving a relegation battle, he’s in Munich, with an injured hamstring, partnering 25-year-old David Luiz in a back four against Robben, Ribéry, Kroos and peak Schweinsteiger.


“Guarantees.”

These fellas all directly led to titles and trophies. We don’t win without them.

Soccer - Pre Season Tour - Chelsea FC Training - Velden Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Cesc Fàbregas

Summer 2014, $36 million
(198 appearances, 22 goals, 2x Premier League, 1x FA Cup, 1x League Cup)
Yeah, I really wasn’t sure about this one at first, but the good friend Duckie was, right away. And Duckie’s right about half the time, so I can never be too sure. But that first game at Burnley, that little assist to Schurrle. It was over. He’s magic. He wears a magic hat. He could have gone to Arsenal, but he said no, [FUN] that. He kicks it with his left foot, he kicks it with his right, but when we win the league again, we’ll sing this song all night. Ohhhhhhh Fàbregas is magic… Also continued a wonderful long-standing tradition of trading up from Arsenal to Chelsea, and becoming a Chelsea legend.

Soccer - Pre Season Tour - Chelsea FC Training - Velden Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Diego Costa

Summer 2014, $41 million
(120 appearances, 59 goals, 2x Premier League, 1x League Cup)
Duckie argues against him constantly, and I can’t, for the world of me, figure out why. Yes, he’s a madman. Yes, he’s wild. Yes, he’s unreliable. Sure, his first touch isn’t the best. But we don’t win two Premier Leagues in three years without him. We just don’t. His mixture of aggression, skill and strength was made for the Premier League. He could bully any centre back, mix it up with any bruising midfielder, and he was deeply cynical. Win at all costs. The best example was that goal against West Brom in the second title-winning year: a hopeless ball is punted into the corner, he chases the lost cause, bullies the centre back off the ball, charges into the box and crashes a shot into the top corner. It was the only “chance” we created that game. We won 1-0. We won the title that year.

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Mateo Kovacic Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Mateo Kovačić

Summer 2019, $49 million
(201 appearances, 5 goals, 1x Champions League, 1x Europa League, 1x Super Cup)
Subjectively, personally, my favourite signing since Hazard. I’m a weird aesthete with football sometimes, and I just love watching the way he moves with the ball. He’s also a tremendous footballer, and slowly but surely making his way towards Modrić. He’s about to hit his prime now, if only he could shoot. We got him on loan during that platoon year with Sarri, but under Lampard he really came into his own. On his day, world class. When he played with Hazard, I’d occasionally think I was seeing double. Shimmy shimmy.

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Jorginho... Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Jorginho

Summer 2018, $62 million
(207 appearances, 29 goals, 1x Champions League, 1x Europa League, 1x Super Cup)
No chance he’s on this list if we’re doing it two years ago. But what a difference a few years — and some trophies — make. At his peak he was one of the best midfielders in the world, the way he reads the game is absurd, the way he controls the pitch. We’re a possession team now. We weren’t a possession team when we won with Conte. We’re a possession team now that dominates the ball. He’s the main reason. I credit him with making me a smarter fan. I couldn’t understand him in year one, couldn’t wrap my head around it, and definitely didn’t think we needed to change our identity as a club. For fifteen years the defend-and-counterattack was our identity. (Against the big clubs, in the big games especially.) But that first year, when we dominated possession at Manchester City but lost 6-0, I just couldn’t handle it. He was an essential part of a team that conquered Europe for years.


“We also don’t win without you.”

Now it gets tough. Pedro and Willian were so close, too. But I decided to give precedence to the Champions League. Pedro and Willian won more trophies for Chelsea, both won two league titles and a Europa League. But the Cup to rule them all, is the cup to rule them all. There’s a reason Pep will never be satisfied at City.

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Antonio Rudiger Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Antonio Rüdiger

Summer 2017, $38 million
(203 appearances, 12 goals, 1x Champions League, 1x Super Cup, 1x Europa League, 1x FA Cup)
I find the best teams always have one madman. You’ve gotta have one madman, he’s gotta be on your side. He might go overboard every once in a while, but you live with it. Look, John Terry needlessly and pointlessly kneed Alexis Sánchez in the back during a Champions League semi-final at the Camp Nou while we were still winning the tie and got sent off, genuinely letting the team down. Rüdiger is here because of that Champions League run. But he’s here especially after that series against Atlético, when he out-crazied Suárez and didn’t get baited. He’s here because of the tackle that won the final. He’s here because he’s a cult hero too, loved by fans and players alike. And he’s here because we can now see how important he was to the team.

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy Signs For Chelsea Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Édouard Mendy

Summer 2020, $26 million
(104 appearances, 1x Champions League, 1x Super Cup)
At first it was just a breath of fresh air to have someone in goal who wasn’t Kepa and who looked like he would struggle to reach the crossbar. And then there was the way he commanded the penalty area. And the way he’d distribute. And then the saves. Spring and leap and confidence. A magnificent ‘keeper. Let’s not talk too much about the last few months though. At this rate, Willian might just leap above him. But the Cup with the big ears…


“Honorable Mentions.”

These fellas all contributed directly to winning trophies, but eleven was our number.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Chelsea’s New Signing Willian - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Willian

Summer 2013, $39 million
(339 appearances, 63 goals, 2x Premier League, 1x Europa League, 1x FA Cup, 1x League Cup)
I saw a comment recently, wishing we still had Willian on the wings due to the profligacy of our wingers. Willian frustrated me constantly, but would then pull these magnificent bits of quality out of a hat and score an absolute stunner. On his day he was actually world class. There was a game against Barcelona in the Champions League, where he was genuinely the best player on the pitch, including Messi. He had pace, power, skill, a wicked shot, great set piece delivery. But strangely never quite put it all together. A great squad player to have if you’re looking to win. Assistant captain of the Blind Alley Merchant All-Stars with…

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Chelsea’s New Signing Pedro - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Pedro

Summer 2015, $29 million
(206 appearances, 43 goals, 1x Premier League, 1x Europa League, 1x FA Cup)
Seriously, Pedro was truly the kind of running down blind alleys with a ball. And yet, Pedro has won so many trophies and played with some of the greatest players of the modern era. In many ways, he wasn’t great at anything, but he was very good at everything. He had a good touch, good feet, good acceleration, good finishing. He was just good. Between him and Willian, we had the quality on most nights to balance the insanity that Hazard was pulling on the left. (Note: I said balance, not match. That’s important.)

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Nemanja Matic signs For Chelsea FC - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Nemanja Matić

January 2014, $27 million
(151 appearances, 7 goals, 2x Premier League)
Within a few weeks we knew we had exactly what we were missing. We played City, back when Yaya Touré was in his prime, and Matić absolutely bossed him. Instrumental in our two-titles-in-three-years run, partnering Cesc in the middle the first time round, and N’Golo the second. Seems like we sold to United at the right time for the right price, which makes it even better. But then we really suffered for a couple years after letting him go. Sometimes I wonder if we could have stood to benefit from his presence, at least until Jorgi was fully up to speed with England, and the team was fully up to speed with the idea of possession.

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Photo by Chelsea Football Club/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

David Luiz 2.0

Summer 2016, $38 million
(105 appearances, 6 goals, 1x Premier League, 1x Europa League, 1x FA Cup)
I’m just glad I got to include him in this list, because the first time we signed him was in 2011, and because of the arbitrary nature of this list, he was going to miss out. A true Chelsea legend. My only regret is we never got to see him and Thiago play together in blue.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Chelsea Training Session - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Kurt “Happy” Zouma

Summer 2013, $16 million
(151 appearances, 10 goals, 1x Champions League, 2x Premier League, 1x Super Cup, 1x League Cup)
I overlooked him at first, which is a bit of a travesty, considering the role he played in that first Premier League in 2014 as a young-un, even doing a job in midfield in that classic Mourinho destroyer role. Won just about everything possible at the club, wonderful presence in the dressing room, and absolute physical specimen. He’s almost the perfect expression of Chelsea’s evolution in style. When we signed him, he was raw, 19, and it looked like we had just signed up half our defence for the next decade. We were set. But then our style changed, and he can’t pass, and his first touch isn’t his forte. He’s that classic centre back that, because of his physical gifts, has always been able to get away with poor positioning and mistakes, because his strength and speed will bail him out, and he’ll make a spectacular tackle. But we don’t need that kind of centre back any more. Sold for a profit too, and I think at just the right time, despite the minor crisis we seem to be having.

Soccer - Chelsea Training - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Oscar

Summer 2012, $35 million
(203 appearances, 38 goals, 2x Premier League, 1x Europa League, 1x League Cup)
I’ll never quite understand what happened to Oscar. The world was literally at his feet. He was the only player to emerge with credit from that national disaster in Brazil back in 2014, but he was never the same player. He performed under Mourinho, but I have a feeling his soul was crushed. He was off to China before Conte had a chance to turn the screw. Just 26 when he left for China, never played for Brazil again. He’s just 32 now. I’m baffled. I feel like I just wrote an obituary too, I’m still so sad about it. Funnily, sold him for a profit.

Soccer - Chelsea Training Session - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Victor Moses

Summer 2012, $12 million
(128 appearances, 18 goals, 1x Premier League, 2x Europa League, 1x FA Cup)
Serial trophy winner. Signed at a snip, same summer as Hazard. The least heralded, but between his role in the Europa League triumph in 2013, and the League title in 2017, had his fair share of contributions to justify his place on this honourable mention list.

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Christian Pulisic Photo by Clive Howes/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Christian Pulisic

January 2019, $70 million
(133 appearances, 26 goals, 1x Champions League, 1x Super Cup)
He’s such a fascinating player. Instrumental in our run to the Champions League final, but so inconsistent. Then again, we had a young winger once, signed from a foreign league, he was oft-injured and inconsistent, but showed glimpses of quality often. He was sold to Real Madrid when he was 23. Didn’t quite work there. Sold to Bayern at 25. He’s retired now, and considered to be one of the greatest players of the last twenty years.

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Photo by Chelsea Football Club/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Marcos Alonso

Summer 2016, $25 million
(212 appearances, 29 goals, 1x Champions League, 1x Premier League, 1x Super Cup, 1x Europa League, 1x FA Cup)
This one’s funny, scarcely believable. Especially considering the reaction when he was signed. Wait, who? The lad who couldn’t cut it at Bolton and Sunderland? But considering the trophies, the decisive moments, and the overall contribution to a team’s style, he’s in. We know exactly what we’re getting with him. He’s not quick, in fact, he’s slow. He’s so slow, he makes a tortoise look quick. But he’s got such a wand of a foot, and such intelligence. He knows he’s slow, yet somehow, he’s bursting forward. He’s such a graceful player to watch, one of those rare absolutely worth it signings that definitely blew the lid on expectations. I do kind of miss him.

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Olivier Giroud Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Olivier Giroud

January 2018, $20 million
(119 appearances, 39 goals, 1x Champions League, 1x Europa League, 1x FA Cup)
Do we win the Champions League without Arsenal’s former talisman? Maybe. Do we win the Europa League without Arsenal’s former talisman? Absolutely not. He was never a fashionable signing, but good lord was he effective. Directly contributed to winning a trophy that Arsenal have never won. And between his 4-goal salvo, and a ridiculous free kick, I would argue was essential in our Champions League victory. His partnership with Eden Hazard in particular was joyous.


“Too soon.”

Both were signed the same summer as Silva and Mendy, who both make the list. The jury’s out on both of them. Chilly would have made honourable mention if he hadn’t gotten hurt, and Havertz would have made honourable mention if he’d played with any consistency this year. But alas. Both have time on their side, both look to be good signings in the long term, and both contributed directly to winning the Champions League last year.

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Ben Chilwell Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Ben Chilwell

Summer 2020, $55 million
(68 appearances, 8 goals, 1x Champions League, 1x Super Cup)
Seemed to finally be breaking our full back curse, where we just couldn’t for the life of us, sign a decent full back. Until the injuries it looked like we finally had the long-awaited Ashley Cole replacement. The injuries are such a worry, here’s hoping he’s back stronger.

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Kai Havertz Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Kai Havertz

Summer 2020, $88 million
(112 appearances, 27 goals, 1x Champions League, 1x Super Cup)
I still think he’s the next Dennis Bergkamp. Barring that, I’ll take Berbatov. He’s a special special talent, still young. He scored the winning goal in the Champions League final. That alone makes the fee negligible.


“Let’s not even talk about it.”

Fuuuuuuuu... I was hoping they wouldn’t fall into the parameters of this “eleven best signings of the last eleven years” exercise. Let’s not even talk about it.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Mohamed Salah signs for Chelsea - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Mo Salah

January 2014, $18 million
(19 appearances, 2 goals)
Seriously. [FUN].

Kevin De Bruyne signs for Chelsea FC Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Kevin de Bruyne

January 2012, $8 million
(9 appearances)
We’re not talking about this. Looks at his trophies again. 4 Premier Leagues… Fuck. At least we got them in the Champions League final.


Wait, you cost HOW MUCH?!?

And now, the Eleven Worst

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Kepa Arrizabalaga Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Kepa Arrizabalaga

Summer 2018, $88 million
(113 appearances, 1x Champions League, 1x Super Cup, 1x Europa League)
The fee alone is absurd. He’s not as bad as he’s been made out to be, but he’s not as good as he thinks he is. He’s turned it around recently, might even have a second lease of life. But good lord that transfer fee is abhorrent. Rule of thumb is you should never do deals with Bilbao for Basque players. You’ll always be paying three times more than you should.

Chelsea Unveil New Loan Signing Gonzalo Higuain Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Gonzalo Higuaín

January 2019, $8 million loan fee
(18 appearances, 5 goals, 1x Europa League)
The fee alone is absurd. He never played in Europe again. I don’t want to be rude, but I’ve seen fitter waiters. What a horrendous, horrendous signing. We already had Giroud, who started and won the Europa League final for us, yet we signed Higuain for… reasons?

Chelsea Unveiling Romelu Lukaku Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Romelu Lukaku

Summer 2021, $128 million
(44 appearances, 15 goals, 1x Super Cup)
Where do I even begin with this guy. I do sometimes wonder about alternate universes. Like the one where a 21-year-old Lukaku returns from his successful loan at Everton, and we keep him around. And we build a team around a 21-year-old Lukaku, and 23-year-old Eden Hazard, Mo Salah and Kevin De Bruyne. That’s a front four that wins everything for a decade. Or how about the alternate universe where we sign Lukaku for Conte instead of Morata. Do things go differently? Do we win another title? But instead, we get the universe where he signs for us for way too much money at the wrong time for the wrong coach. And it couldn’t have gone worse. From the attitude, to the application, he just wasn’t up for the fight. To call him a disappointment would be a disgrace to the English language. At least Kepa clearly cares for the badge.


What were we thinking about this window!?

This is chaotic. Genuinely chaotic. After winning the title with Conte we lost Costa and Matić and went absolutely ham and threw money around like we were drunk. We must have been drunk. We got Rüdiger though, so that was nice. At the time you could defend the Bakayoko signing, he was named in the Champions League best XI the year before. And you could talk yourself into Morata. Drinks and Zappa were a farce from the beginning.

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Tiemoue Bakayoko Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Tiémoué Bakayoko

Summer 2017, $44 million
(43 appearances, 3 goals, 1x FA Cup)
I actually still feel bad for him. He looked such a sad, forlorn figure by the end of his tenure. And during those strange pre-seasons when he’s forced to be around the club before we inevitably loan him again. He played injured his first year, and still showed glimpses of something quite incredible, all length and skill and power, like a modern Abou Diaby. But it was never to be. Confidence is a huge part of being a professional athlete, and after one too many abject performances, he seemed to lose his in a Chelsea shirt. It still makes me kind of sad, I had such high hopes. Still on the books.

Chelsea unveil new signing Danny Drinkwater Photo by Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Danny Drinkwater

Summer 2017, $41 million
(23 appearances, 1 goal, 1x FA Cup)
Even with the English tax, this was an obscene amount to pay for a player on the level of an Ashley Westwood or Oriol Romeu, who just had the great fortune of playing next to N’Golo Kanté for a year. Love him for the memes and the comedy value though, which is not exactly what you’re looking for when you’re spending $40 million on a professional footballer.

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Alvaro Morata Photo by Chelsea Football Club/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Álvaro Morata

Summer 2017, $72 million
(72 appearances, 24 goals, 1x Europa League, 1x FA Cup)
Attitude is a fascinating thing in professional sports. You can tell when a player cares, when they want to be somewhere, when they want to be doing something. He never looked happy here. I was happy to see him leave. Oddly similar goal-record to Batshuayi. We paid a lot of money for someone who didn’t want to be here.

Chelsea unveil new signing Danny Drinkwater Photo by Chelsea Football Club/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Davide Zappacosta

Summer 2017, $27 million
(52 appearances, 2 goals, 1x Europa League, 1x FA Cup)
Here because of the comparison you can make with Alonso. Similar prices, similar limitations. But where Alonso left a genuine lasting imprint, with moments of magic, moments we won’t forget, I can’t think of a thing Zappacosta ever did, apart from a glorious fluke against some minnows in a Champions League group stage blowout. He’s the assistant captain of the “Asier Del Horno Crew” of forgotten, inexplicable defensive signings.


“Gone, but definitely mostly forgotten”

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Chelsea Signing - Marko Marin - Stamford Bridge Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Marko Marin

Summer 2012, $8 million
(16 appearances, 1 goal, 1x Europa League)
Here because of the hype. The German Messi. We got the Belgian one instead though, so we were never too fussed. Meant we had to go nab Willian out front of Spurs’ noses though, which was nice.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Juan Cuadrado Signs for Chelsea FC - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Juan Cuadrado

January 2015, $34 million
(15 appearances, 1x League Cup, 1x Premier League)
This was the moment we should have realized that Mourinho Mk II was going to end badly. Sure he’d already turfed De Bruyne and Salah. And sure, André Schürrle wasn’t on that level. But to sideline Schurrle, and replace him with Cuadrado, who barely played for the club and never wanted to be here? I’m still mad about it. Schürrle had spoken glowingly about watching Ballack play for Chelsea and being excited and proud to be part of our legacy. He was a great squad player. I have a funny feeling he fell out of love with the game under Mourinho. Just like Oscar. And yes, I recognize that this paragraph is meant to be about Juan Cuadrado. But he was barely ever here.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Filipe Luis Signs for Chelsea FC - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Filipe Luís

Summer 2014, $22 million
(26 appearances, 1 goal, 1x League Cup, 1x Premier League)
In Mourinho’s first spell, he signed a left back from the Spanish League who was known for marauding up and down the flank. He never settled and was sold back to Spain after a year for a loss. Sometimes, history truly does just repeat itself. Another sign that Mourinho Mk II wasn’t going to go as well as thought.


“He’s still here isn’t he?”

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Chelsea’s new signing Baba Rahman - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Baba Rahman

Summer 2015, $28 million
(23 appearances)
In the summer of 2014 we signed a left back from Spain who was known for marauding up and down the flank. He never settled and was sold back to Spain after a year for a loss. So we changed tack, and signed a left back from Germany who was known for marauding up and down the flank. He never settled and was sent out on loan. He’s still at the club somehow (ed.note: lots of injuries), but hasn’t seen the first team in years.


“On vibes alone”

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Michy Batshuayi Photo by Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Michy Batshuayi

Summer 2016, $42 million
(77 appearances, 25 goals, 1x Premier League)
It’s mostly for the fee. He can rightly state he scored the winning goal in Conte’s title-winning campaign. But we can also counter with the fact that there were two more games to play.


Dis-Honorable Mentions

I don’t really want to say too much about them. There’s the weird “why did we sign this guy” people like Miazga, Hector and Djilobodji. There’s the expensive past-his-prime loan mistakes, but they were loans so we didn’t have to live with it for long. And then there’s Kenedy. Why is Kenedy?

Alexandre Pato Signs for Chelsea FC - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Kenedy — Summer 2015, $8 million (27 appearances, 3 goals)

Falcao — Summer 2015, Loan $7 million (12 appearances, 1 goal)

Papy Djilobodji — Summer 2015, $3 million (1 appearance)

Alexandre Pato — January 2016, loan (2 appearances, 1 goal)

Michael Hector — Summer 2015, $5 million (0)

Matt Miazga — Summer 2015, $5 million (2 appearances)


“You get your own category”

I didn’t know what to do with him. Which is an apt description of his career.

Chelsea Unveil New Signing Ross Barkley Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Ross Barkley

January 2018, $18 million
(100 appearances, 12 goals, 1x Europa League)
He’s played a bunch, won some trophies, and flattered to deceive. He’s got every tool you’d want from a potentially world class player. He’s the perfect lightning rod. He’s turning 30 next year.


All fees from https://www.transfermarkt.us/fc-chelsea/alletransfers/verein/631. All stats from Wikipedia.

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