Chelsea have made some bad signings over the years. That’s what I thought before writing this feature. As it turns out they have made a scarily large amount of absolutely shocking signings. A few players here have zero or no games played for the Blues, while plenty of £20million+ signings have looked extremely out of their depth.
Including their club-record deal and the new faces that have joined in January 2022, here is a ranking of Chelsea’s last 50 signings. It is pretty f***ing bleak.
Noni Madueke is the club’s most recent addition, shifting Kenedy’s £7m move out.
Prices, as always, are taken from Transfermarkt, who now operate using euros, not pounds, the b***ards.
50) Romelu Lukaku (£99.8m)
The worst of the lot is Chelsea’s record signing. Lukaku was signed off the back of a historic campaign with Inter Milan and hit the ground running with a brilliant performance in his second Blues debut as he made Arsenal defender Pablo Mari look like a little boy.
It then all went a bit Pete Tong. Lukaku did a controversial interview in which he explained how much he loved Inter and how playing under Thomas Tuchel was not what he expected. It was never the same after that. The striker’s performances dipped before he got loaned back to Milan last summer. What a waste of £100m.
49) Kepa Arrizabalaga (£72m)
Kepa has looked alright over the last year or so, but he is still pretty unreliable and looks nowhere near a £72m goalkeeper.
48) Tiemoue Bakayoko (£35m)
Bakayoko was a part of the brilliant Monaco team that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2017. That side was dismantled in the summer that followed with the French midfielder moving to west London, where he struggled to prove he can play football.
47) Danny Drinkwater (£33.5m)
Just a disastrous signing all round. Drinkwater joined a year after N’Golo Kante and had nowhere near the same effect. After poor performances whenever he was given the chance, he was loaned out to Burnley, then Aston Villa, then Turkish side Kasimpasa before joining Championship outfit Reading until the summer of 2022. Drinkwater is currently without a club after his Chelsea contract expired in June.
46) Alvaro Morata (£58m)
This guy has the best agent in football. Him and Roberto Martinez.
45) Michy Batshuayi (£34m)
Scored the goal away at West Brom to secure the Premier League title in 2017, and therefore a Chelsea legend.
44) Davide Zappacosta (£22m)
Antonio Conte made some horrible signings during his time at Stamford Bridge. Zappacosta is already the fourth from the summer of 2017 to make this list.
43) Papy Djilobodji (£3m)
Djilobodji played once for the Blues, coming on in injury time in the third round of a League Cup tie away to Walsall.
42) Rob Green (free)
Green was a bit of a meme during his time at Chelsea. He will only be remembered for celebrating the Blues’ Europa League final victory against London rivals Arsenal.
41) Michael Hector (£4.7m)
I think a lot of people have either been surprisingly reminded – or only just found out – that Hector was a Chelsea player. He didn’t play a single game for them.
40) Matt Miazga (£4m)
Miazga was signed for less than Hector, actually played for Chelsea, and possibly helped the club grow in the United States. What a signing!
39) Marcus Bettinelli (free)
Bettinelli was signed for nothing and is now the club’s fourth-choice goalkeeper.
38) Marc Cucurella (£57.6m)
Cucurella’s 2021-22 campaign with Brighton was absolutely brilliant. He quickly adapted to Premier League football after a £16m move from Getafe but hasn’t even looked half the player since moving to Stamford Bridge.
37) Kalidou Koulibaly (£33.6m)
Last June I said Koulibaly was one of six players constantly linked with a move to the Premier League with an actual transfer obviously never going to happen. I had egg on my face when the Senegalese moved to Chelsea a couple of weeks later. I got the last laugh, though; he has been rubbish.
36) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.6m)
Sticking with shocking signing from the most recent window Aubameyang joined from Barcelona for not an awful lot of money and has still somehow failed to live up to the price tag. The former Arsenal captain reportedly wants out already. That number nine shirt really is cursed.
35) Saul Niguez (£4.4m loan fee)
Chelsea love an extortionate loan fee. One of the worst deals was Radamel Falcao’s move to Stamford Bridge, but he just missed out here.
Saul joined with a good reputation and was a world-class midfielder at one point. He signed for the Blues already past his best at the age of 26 and was hooked at half-time on his debut. It didn’t get much better.
34) Gonzalo Higuain (£6.9m loan fee)
Speaking of terrible loan deals with big fees… Higuain scored five goals in 18 matches for the Blues after joining around three years too late.
33) Emerson Palmieri (£17.7m)
Now plying his trade at West Ham, Emerson was signed alongside Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud in January 2018. He was the worst of the three. Only just.
32) Alexandre Pato (loan)
Chelsea apparently did not pay a loan fee for a 26-year-old Pato, who would have been a very exciting – and expensive – signing had he come to England as a youngster. The Brazilian striker scored one in two games for Chelsea and is now 33 and without a club.
31) Noni Madueke (£30.8m)
Chelsea really did not have to make this signing. Madueke doesn’t really improve Potter’s attack, who already has enough options, but he has potential to become a decent player.
30) Joao Felix (£11m loan fee)
Chelsea’s most recent signing, Felix has joined for the remainder of 2022-23 with Todd Boehly forking out an extortionate £11m loan fee and will cover the player’s £8m salary. The 23-year-old will not join permanently after signing a new Atletico Madrid contract. This is a deal that does not make much sense with a top-four finish in the Premier League and/or Champions League glory very unlikely.
£1.7m has already been chucked down the drain thanks to Felix’s suspension following his debut red card against Fulham.
29) Willy Caballero (free)
Chelsea couldn’t really go wrong here.
28) Ross Barkley (£15m)
Barkley broke onto the scene with Everton and many tipped him to be the next Paul Gascoigne. It’s safe to say that did not happen.
27) Timo Werner (£47m)
Darwin Nunez and Timo Werner may be the exact same player. Whenever Darwin has a poor game in front of goal people say, ‘He is making all of the right runs, he will come good soon’. People said the exact same thing about Werner.
Anyway, the German missed more chances for Chelsea in two years than I have had hot dinners in 27.
26) Christian Pulisic (£56.7m)
The LeBron James of soccer has definitely boosted Chelsea’s American fandom, but that is probably the only good thing you can say about this deal.
25) Raheem Sterling (£50m)
Sterling has been bitterly disappointing since leaving Manchester City but he hasn’t turned rubbish overnight. He still gets in Chelsea’s strongest XI.
24) Ethan Ampadu (£2.5m)
Ampadu cannot get a sniff at Chelsea these days, but £2.5m for a player who is now a mainstay in Rob Page’s Wales team and can easily cut it for a Premier League club is a great deal. It’s a shame he has no chance of making it at Stamford Bridge with his contract expiring next year.
23) Omari Hutchinson (free)
Like most free transfers, you cannot go wrong. As an Arsenal fan, I was pretty gutted to see Hutchinson leave. And I bet he is pretty gutted to have left having seen the Blues sign a few players in his position since his summer move. Given the fact there are so many players ahead of him in the pecking order who are at a similar age, I had to move Hutchinson down a few spots.
22) Mykhaylo Mudryk (£62m)
Well bloody hell, Mudryk looked quite good on his debut against Liverpool. So good that I have decided to ignore the vast majority of my bitterness as an Arsenal fan by shifting him up over 20 places from his initial ranking. It feels good to do the right thing.
21) Benoit Badiashile (£33.7m)
21-year-old Badiashile was signed this month for quite a lot of money and is the fourth defender Chelsea have brought in this season.
20) Hakim Ziyech (£35.4m)
Chelsea fans seem to love or hate Ziyech. Either way, he has not been great after a brilliant spell with Ajax.
19) David Datro Fofana (£10.6m)
I don’t know why but I can already see Fofana being someone who plays four times for Chelsea before leaving for £2.5m in 2026.
18) Andrey Santos (£11m)
I can’t even pretend I know a lot about Andrey Santos. He is young and Brazilian with a lot of potential… apparently.
17) Malang Sarr (free)
Sarr has not impressed me but was signed for nothing and can probably be sold for at least £10m.
16) Wesley Fofana (£71m)
Fofana has only managed seven Chelsea appearances thanks to a knee injury. Given how bad Leicester are without him and how much the Blues are now struggling, it is evident Potter could really do with the Frenchman – who was signed for a helluva lot of money.
15) Carney Chukwuemeka (£16m)
There was lots of interest in Chukwuemeka last summer with Chelsea winning the race ahead of the likes of Borussia Dortmund. He is a very highly-rated young player.
14) Gabriel Slonina (£8m)
I know next to nothing about Slonina, but I have seen plenty of Chelsea fans say he should be given the nod ahead of Edouard Mendy and Kepa. Does that say more about him or the other two goalkeepers?
13) Denis Zakaria (£2.6m loan fee)
Not sure many people expected Denis Zakaria to be Chelsea’s best summer signing.
— Will Ford (@willfordy25) January 8, 2023
12) Kai Havertz (£71m)
I do not rate Havertz very highly. The German scored the only goal in the Champions League final against Manchester City in 2021. Without that goal he would be in the bottom five here. The fact one goal sees him up over 40 places says a lot about the rest of the players on this list…
11) Billy Gilmour (£1.5m)
Gilmour was snapped up from Rangers as a teenager and was evidently a great piece of scouting. The Scottish midfielder was never given enough of a chance to play consistently for the Chelsea first team, with his loan spell at Norwich City doing him no favours whatsoever.
Sold to Brighton for a measly £7.3m, Gilmour has not quite got up and running on the south coast, but the potential remains.
10) David Luiz (£31m)
He did quite well, I think. Not well enough to make the top ten though.
9) Olivier Giroud (£15m)
Signed from London rivals Arsenal, Giroud scored against the Gunners in the 2019 Europa League final then proceeded to take the p*ss out of his former employers on the way home. For that alone, he was a brilliant signing.
8) Ben Chilwell (£44.5m)
Chilwell was bought for a lot of money and if it wasn’t for the several injuries he has suffered, he would probably be a bit higher on this list.
7) Jorginho (£50.5m)
Jorginho somehow finished third in Ballon d’Or voting and was named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year in 2021 after Italy won the European Championships and Chelsea won the Champions League. Did people forget it was an individual award? He was not the best player for club or country in their title-winning campaigns. I am clearly still irked by this.
Anyway, the Italian playmaker has had a strange Blues career. At times he looks like one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, but he also sometimes looks completely out of his depth – slow, weak and a liability. Having said that, he is one of few players on this list that can be regarded as a successful signing.
These photos were taken 16 months ago 😳 pic.twitter.com/S2kySpsbiV
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) January 12, 2023
6) Marcos Alonso (£20.3m)
What a strange player. Like Jorginho, Alonso would go through a period of form where he looked like a world-beater and would at other times look absolutely horrendous. Defensively, the Spaniard was always a bit suspect. Going forward, he had a mean delivery and could score the occasional beauty, whether that be a free-kick or from open play.
5) Edouard Mendy (£21.2m)
Mendy joined Chelsea in September 2020 and instantly improved a position that desperately needed to be addressed. Kepa was shifted to the bench for the Senegal goalkeeper – who looked steady from day one.
However, Mendy won the African Cup of Nations and returned to club duty with a permanent hangover. He has been error-prone and unreliable since then. Coincidence? It has to be.
4) Mateo Kovacic (£40m)
Kovacic is a player I rate very highly. £40m at the time was a big fee for someone who barely played for Real Madrid, but Chelsea would have been silly not to pay it given the fact they were about to be under a transfer embargo.
The Croatian would start for any team in world football and has made over 200 appearances for the Blues, helping them win the Champions League and Europa League.
3) Antonio Rudiger (£31m)
The top three signings here are the best by a distance.
Rudiger joined from Roma for around £30m in 2017 and wasn’t great to begin with. It was when Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in January 2021 that things began to turn around for the German centre-half.
His compatriot’s three-at-the-back system suited Rudiger perfectly and he was integral in Chelsea’s Champions League win before another tremendous campaign, helping his side reach the final of the FA Cup and Carabao Cup in 2022.
I thought Rudiger was benefitting from some classic three-at-the-back tax under Tuchel, but given the fact he is now at Real Madrid and doing well in the Spanish capital, it is safe to say I was wrong.
2) Thiago Silva (free)
One of the best free transfers in Premier League history, Silva signed from Paris Saint-Germain and instantly improved Chelsea’s defence.
The experienced Brazilian is still going strong at the age of 38 and has been one of the very few bright spots this season with Graham Potter’s side falling into a relegation battle…
1) N’Golo Kante (£31.7m)
Chelsea’s best buy since the summer of 2015, Kante has been immense ever since he moved to England.
Kante helped the Foxes win the Premier League in 2015-16 before moving to Chelsea for a very modest fee. He then won the title again, going back-to-back with two different teams. He is the only player to ever do this. I am not counting Mark Schwarzer, who did it as Kante’s teammate in those two seasons, playing zero games in total.
Chelsea would not have won the Champions League in 2021 if it wasn’t for Kante’s form during their run to the final. He is one of the best midfielders in Premier League history.