Chelsea’s worst XI of Roman Abramovich era signings

Will Ford
Werner Kepa Salah

Having spent over £2bn on players in the last two decades, Roman Abramovich’s reign at Chelsea has come to an end.

The best XI of transfers in that time would likely rule the world, but my word have they spunked cash on some rotters. We’ve selected players based on both their contributions and price tags, and loanees weren’t in the running. Here’s the worst XI…


GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga – £72m
Arguably the position with the greatest hit rate for Chelsea, certainly in terms of the No.1 slot. Petr Cech, Thibaut Courtois and Edouard Mendy have all been outstanding, breaking clean sheet records all over the place. They signed the three of them combined for roughly half the £72m they paid for Kepa, who showed promise in Mendy’s absence this season before becoming the laughing stock of another League Cup final.


RB: Davide Zappacosta – £22.5m
He wasn’t terrible but Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta’s longevity has meant there is a relative dearth of poor Chelsea right-backs. A decent player, but an unnecessary signing. There have been a hell of a lot of them.


CB: Papy Djilobodji – £3m
Talking of wanton spending, what does £3million of centre-back buy you? One League Cup minute against Walsall. Then again, that was somehow enough to persuade Sunderland to pay £8million for him. Well played, Chelsea.


CB: Tal Ben Haim – free transfer
Avram Grant’s Israeli signing bonus turned Chelsea takeover broker. The centre-back signed from Bolton by compatriot Grant at Stamford Bridge is reportedly now playing his part in helping a Gulf-based billionaire buy the club. Tal moves in mysterious ways.


LB: Baba Rahman – £23.4m
His 23 games for Chelsea since signing from Augsburg in the summer of 2016 have come at a cost of over £1million per appearance. He is currently at Reading, his sixth loan club, playing his part in their potential relegation to League One. One of the biggest wastes of money in Premier League history.


RM: Mohamed Salah – £14.85m
Signed because he scored home and away to win Champions League group games against Chelsea, which had been a classic ploy from the Blues for years, in a ‘how dare you beat us, we’re going to buy your best player to ensure that doesn’t happen again’ kind of way. But barely played in a season under Jose Mourinho and was unceremoniously moved on before returning to the Premier League to ceremony all over the place.


CM: Tiemoue Bakayoko – £36m
While Chelsea signed Bakayoko in the wake of Monaco’s outstanding Champions League run in 2016/17, Liverpool landed his far superior midfield partner a season later. Fabinho has since won the Premier League and Champions League; Bakayoko sits on the AC Milan bench.


CM: Danny Drinkwater – £34.1m
Had his day in the sun as he won the title with Leicester, joined Chelsea and has been burning pretty much ever since. After unsuccessful loan stints at Burnley, Aston Villa and Turkish side Kasimpasa, he’s now playing regular football for Reading. And good for him, it must have been a rough few years.


LM: Timo Werner – £47.7m
The Chelsea fans love him like he’s the fat kid in the 200m that’s applauded across the finish line. Werner himself has said he can’t understand why he gets so much support. It’s pity, Timo.


ST: Alvaro Morata – £59.4m
In what may very well be the worst transfer window in the club’s history – though the arrival of Antonio Rudiger makes that somewhat debatable – Morata joined Bakayoko and Drinkwater in arriving at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2017. He got off to a flyer with six Premier League goals in as many games, but struggled significantly with his mental health as things took a turn for the worse, as they so often do for Chelsea strikers.


ST: Romelu Lukaku – £97.5m
Simply the wrong signing at the wrong time. Kai Havertz had just won the f***ing Champions League and Thomas Tuchel had the team set up to suit the German forward’s style. In an attempt to buy goals without any thought as to how that would affect the team, Chelsea wasted £100m on a player whose heart remains at Inter Milan.