The Roman Abramovich era is coming to an end at Chelsea as the Russian billionaire announced he was going to sell the club, citing it was in the best interests of the club amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He has been the benefactor and architect of much of Chelsea’s success as a football club since he took over the club in 2003. 19 years and 21 trophies later, the impact Abramovich has had on the Blues cannot be overstated.
All of the success couldn’t have been achieved without exceptional talent on the pitch and there have been some outstanding talents to play for Chelsea in this period, far too many to count. We have decided to take on a difficult task and put together a list of Abramovich’s ten best signings at Chelsea.
10. Edouard Mendy
The Blues’ current goalkeeper has established himself as one of the best shot-stoppers in the world since his move from Rennes in 2020. With a Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup to his name in his short space of time at Stamford Bridge, he has proven to be an excellent signing. Despite defeat, his recent performance against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final was incredible, with some brilliant saves made by the Senegalese international.
9. Ricardo Carvalho
The Portuguese centre-back forged a resilient partnership with John Terry between 2004-10 in west London, giving them a solid foundation for the beginning of Chelsea’s success under Abramovich. Their excellent relationship was crucial in the Blues securing back-to-back league titles. The pair were one of the toughest centre-back duos to face if you were a striker in the Premier League, and in more or less any game where Carvalho was at the top of his game, his opponent wasn’t. He left the club with three Premier Leagues and two League Cups.
8. Michael Essien
This midfielder was one of the best midfielders in the Premier League before a horrific knee injury in 2008. No one can forget that wondrous strike against Arsenal which kept Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten streak at Stamford Bridge going, as well as his goal against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final. With two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, one League Cup and a Champions League, the Ghanaian’s £24.4million transfer fee was proven to be a bargain.
7. Claude Makelele
The great Makelele revolutionised the way of playing as a holding midfielder, he had everything in his locker which made him one of the toughest opponents to play against. The modern way of playing in the deep-lying position was in fact dubbed the “Makelele role” and his £16million move from Spanish giants Real Madrid was worth its weight in gold as he helped the club win back-to-back league titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup. What was even more impressive was that he was 30 when he made his first appearance for the club.
6. Branislav Ivanovic
Right-back Ivanovic was nothing short of sensational when he joined Chelsea from Lokomotiv Moscow for just under £10million. He was not only a brilliant defender but a surprising source of goals, scoring 33 in total across his nine-year-spell in west London. He exceeded all expectations when he arrived and he left as a club legend, decorated in success, having helped the club win nine titles across all competitions.
5. N’Golo Kante
Makelele’s style paved the way for his fellow Frenchman to amaze supporters as a holding midfielder. Kante joined the Blues after having played an integral goal in the fairytale Leicester City Premier League title win and since then he has won every trophy available to him apart from the League Cup. The amount of work he gets through on the field has always been described as though he is playing for two and his reading of the game has acted as a catalyst for Chelsea in their recent years of success. Another excellent piece of business.
4. Eden Hazard
The Belgian wizard was a joy to watch for Chelsea and he established himself as one of the best players in the world. He was a scorer and creator of some great goals for the Blues and played a starring role in some of the club’s major successes in the last decade. He left the club for Real Madrid in 2019, having won two Premier Leagues, two Europa Leagues, an FA Cup and League Cup. Hazard also scored a whopping 110 goals and registered 92 assists.
3. Ashley Cole
One of the greatest left-backs to have ever graced the game, he was unquestionably the best in his position when he joined the club in 2006 from Arsenal for £5million plus William Gallas. It is still amazing to think just how little Cole cost Abramovich and the immeasurable talent that they got for it. The defender proved time and again to be a winger’s nightmare and he marshalled the left side brilliantly. He left the Blues having won eight titles winning all three major domestic trophies, Champions League and Europa League.
2. Petr Cech
The Czech Republic goalkeeper’s record speaks for itself and he established himself as a cult hero at Stamford Bridge. He is the club’s leading ‘keeper for most clean sheets and boasts the most in the Premier League with 202. With the astounding £7million signing in goal, behind Terry, it's no wonder why Chelsea’s defensive record was as good as it was. He was decorated with 13 titles during his nine-year spell in west London.
1. Didier Drogba
There was only going to be one man who topped this list, and of course it is the legendary Ivory Coast striker. He was definitely Abramovich’s best piece of business as not only was he a prolific goalscorer but a man for the big occasion, as his nine goals in nine cup finals prove. The only downside to his arrival at Chelsea was that he wasn’t younger. It is fascinating to think about just how many greater things he could have achieved with the Blues if he had joined in his early 20s instead of when he was 26. Nonetheless, his 164 goals and 87 assists show just how great a signing he truly was and if you needed any more proof, just look at the 12 titles he won in SW6.
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