Chelsea is a football club with a rich history that stretches back 110 years. Since being founded at the Rising Sun pub in 1905, they have won numerous cup and first division trophies before emerging as a football superpower in the early 2000s. Throughout their history, hundreds of players have represented the club, bringing glory and silverware back to Stamford Bridge. The club has survived two world wars, the rise and fall of hooliganism, and evolved to become trendsetters in the modern world of football.
When Roman Abramovich purchased a majority stake in the club in 2003, he heralded a new era for the Blues. Almost immediately, the club began outspending their Premier League competition and signing a slew of players like Michael Essien, Didier Drogba, and Petr Cech, who ushered in a new era of excellence. The club began the trend of big spending in the Premier League and have now progressed to revolutionizing the loan system, which they have ingeniously used to help themselves turn a profit in recent years.
This evolution has not come without a cost. One of the side-effects of such a system is that many players never have the opportunity to develop with the squad. Playing time and spots in the starting eleven are extremely competitive. A fallout with the frequently changing manager and a few missteps on the pitch can see high caliber players shipped off in the following transfer window. It may not be the most fair system, but it has undeniably produced results. These are the players that fell through the cracks at Chelsea and were never able to find themselves at the club.
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15 Adrian Mutu
After having several impressive scoring campaigns in Serie A for Verona and Parma, Chelsea came calling for the Romanian striker’s signature in August of 2003. The Blues paid €19 as part of Roman Abramovich’s first spending spree with the club. He quickly endeared himself to the fans by scoring four goals in three matches, but it was not a relationship destined for long term success. Mutu clashed with Jose Mourinho and one year later a positive drug test for cocaine began a lengthy legal battle between Mutu and Chelsea for breach of contract. Mutu eventually found success with Fiorentina, but was ordered to pay back €17 million in compensation.
14 Juan Cuadrado
Despite still being owned by Chelsea, it is looking increasingly unlikely that Juan Cuadrado will ever find success at the London club. After Jose Mourinho signed Cuadrado for a transfer fee around €30 million, he played in 14 matches over the first half season, but was never able to secure regular playing time or score a goal. After a single appearance this season, he was sent out on season long loan to Juventus and it remains likely that he will stay in Italy, where his skills are more suited.
13 Jeffrey Bruma
Jeffrey Bruma is a talented young center back that has represented the Netherlands on 13 occasions since 2010. He spent most of his blooming career at Chelsea, beginning as a youth player in 2007 through several loan spells and his eventual transfer to PSV in 2013. Bruma was only able to start a single match and appear in three others for the Blues, but the move to PSV has brought him regular playing time and he has shown great improvement. As part of his transfer, Chelsea insisted on a buy-back clause. So, there is still hope that Bruma may finally make it with the Blues.
12 Miroslav Stoch
After being recruited at a youth tournament and a couple seasons as one of the top scorers on the Chelsea youth team, Miroslav Stoch made his debut for the Chelsea senior squad in 2008. The next season, he began making regular appearances for Slovakia, but he was still not making them for the Blues. Eventually, he was loaned out to FC Twente followed by a transfer to Fenerbahce. Stoch is a solid international contributor that has been able to add a few domestic titles and a Puskas Award to his name since leaving London.
11 Franco Di Santo
Plucked from obscurity by Chelsea from the Chilean club Audax Italiano for a fee of €4.5 million, the Argentinian striker, Franco Di Santo, has developed into a decent contributing striker. After racking up eight PL appearances for Chelsea over two seasons, he was loaned out to Blackburn for a relatively unsuccessful spell. Di Santo then transferred to Wigan for three decent seasons before being released and moving to Germany where he was first employed by Werder Bremen and now Schalke 04. If not for a wealth of striking talent available in Argentina, he would be a regular international.
10 Gokhan Tore
Discovered by Chelsea sporting director Frank Arnesen while playing for the Bayer Leverkusen youth squad, Gokhan Tore moved to Chelsea seeking an eventual role with the first team. After leading the reserve squad to a title, he appeared in a single preseason friendly with the Blues and then was shipped off to Hamburger SV. Tore managed to attract headline attention for threatening Hakan Calhanoglu and Omre Topak with a firearm. Gokhan now plies his trade with Besiktas, while remaining a regular member of the Turkish National Team.
9 Andre Schurrle
When Andre Schurrle arrived at Chelsea from Bayer Leverkusen for a fee of €22 million in 2013, he was expected to usher in a new generation of talent acquisitions and signed to a five-year contract. He soon found himself competing with and losing playing time to the Premier League’s best player, Eden Hazard. From 43 appearances in his first season to 22 in his second, the writing was on the wall for Schurrle, who needed first team minutes in order to continue representing Germany. He moved to Wolfsburg in January at the behest of Jurgen Low, but had earned enough appearances to earn a Premier League winners medal last season.
8 Juan Sebastian Veron
Already considered one of Argentina’s most accomplished midfielders before he joined Chelsea from Manchester United, Juan Sebastian Veron joined Chelsea after being convinced of a role to play by Claudio Ranieri. Despite performing well in his first few appearances with the club, he ran into injury problems and missed significant time, only appearing in 13 matches for the Blues. When Jose Mourinho arrived, he loaned out Veron to Inter for two seasons, followed by another loan spell to his beloved Estudiantes. His transfer to Chelsea is regarded as one of the biggest flops in the club’s history.
7 Lassana Diarra
Lassana Diarra was identified as a potentially younger version of Claude Makalele when he was discovered by Chelsea scouts in 2005. The club promptly secured his services and he began to learn the art of the defensive midfield position from Maka. While he picked up the position and adjusted to the Premier League as a 20-year-old player, he made 14 appearances over his three seasons with the squad before being transferred to Arsenal and later Real Madrid. Lass has been featured in the French National Team numerous times, including last season.
6 Ricardo Quaresma
One of the most well traveled players in modern football, Ricardo Quaresma managed to appear in four matches for Chelsea during his brief loan spell with the club. After leaving Inter for Chelsea, claiming that his health and confidence were restored in the process, he soon found himself on the squad fringes. When his loan spell ended, it was never renewed. Quaresma’s mercurial abilities have frustrated many managers and have lead many to label the talented Portuguese winger as a waste of talent.
5 Brian Laudrup
Brian Laudrup’s tenure with Chelsea was a brief affair that left all parties unsatisfied. Laudrup attempted to cancel his contract with Chelsea before even appearing in Blue because of him questioning a squad rotation policy. After appearing in only 11 matches and scoring a single, yet very valuable goal against Copenhagen in the Cup Winners Cup, Laudrup joined the Danish club shortly after. He went on to be an important member of the ‘98 Danish World Cup team, but was never able to make an impact at Chelsea.
4 Claudio Pizarro
After lifting three Bundeliga trophies with Bayern Munich in over half a decade with the German giants, Claudio Pizarro sought a new challenge with Chelsea. His career with the Blues began with a penalty miss in the Community Shield, but he scored on his Premier League debut. However, Pizarro soon found himself being frozen out by Avram Grant following the departure of Jose Mourinho and arrival of striker Nicolas Anelka. Following the 2007-08 season, he returned to Werder Bremen on loan and left Chelsea with only two goals in 32 matches.
3 Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne’s playmaking skills were routinely on display at Genk, which saw numerous clubs battle for his services. After choosing Chelsea in 2012, he was immediately loaned out to Werder Bremen, where he set the Bundesliga alight with ten goals and nine assists. Expected to make a big impact for the Blues in the following season, he appeared in only nine matches and never managed a single goal. He was then shipped off to Wolfsburg, where he continued dominating German competition. Now, he is making Chelsea rue their wastefulness by being a valuable contributor to Manchester City.
2 Andriy Shevchenko
Following over 200 appearances and 127 goals during his time with AC Milan, Andriy Shevchenko was part of the biggest blockbuster transfer of the early Abramovich years. He joined the club for a sum that exceeded €43 million, setting the club transfer record at the time. Unfortunately, his time with Chelsea saw multiple injuries and a loss of form. He missed the 2007 Champions League Final and saw his appearances halved by injuries in his second year. He was then loaned back to Milan before moving back to Dynamo Kiev, where he finished his footballing career.
1 Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku was signed at the age of 18 from Anderlecht, and many fans anticipated him making an impact on Chelsea for years to come. He was a squad player as Chelsea suffered Premier League setbacks before improbably winning the Champions League in 2012. The following season, he was loaned to West Brom, where he outscored all his Chelsea teammates with 17 Premier League goals. After expecting to play with Chelsea the following season, he was sent to Everton on another loan where he scored 17 goals. The deal with the Toffees was made permanent and he currently has 15 Premier League goals to his name this season, more than the top scorers for Chelsea.
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