Soccer

Rating all the Chelsea strikers of the Abramovich era

Drogba and Costa are club legends but Shevchenko and Torres head a LONG list of expensive failures… every striker signed in the Abramovich era rated as Chelsea open talks for £170m Haaland

  • Chelsea have opened initial talks over a move for Borussia Dortmund’s Haaland
  • Norwegian striker could cost them an eye-watering £170million this summer
  • His arrival would come just a year after they splashed £47m on Timo Werner
  • Chelsea have spent huge sums during the Roman Abramovich era on forwards
  • A handful have gone on to become heroes, but most have failed miserably  

Chelsea have made clear their intent to again reign supreme in Europe next season and push Manchester City hard at home by targeting Erling Haaland in the summer transfer market.

The Borussia Dortmund star is one of the most coveted strikers in world football and any deal could cost Chelsea an eye-watering £170million.

Nonetheless, discussions between the two clubs have commenced but it will be up to Chelsea to persuade both Dortmund and Haaland to press ahead with a deal.

Chelsea are in talks with Borussia Dortmund over their prolific striker Erling Haaland 

Their interest in a player valued at £170m shows Roman Abramovich’s ambition to retain their Champions League title and challenge again domestically 

It also doesn’t exactly bode well for German striker Timo Werner, who has struggled to live up to his £47million price tag since arriving in the Premier League last summer.

Having concluded that signing Harry Kane from fierce London rivals Tottenham would be too difficult and having heard that Romelu Lukaku wants to remain at Inter Milan, Chelsea will test Dortmund’s resolve over Haaland.

It would be just the latest striker signed during the Roman Abramovich era at Stamford Bridge. Some have arrived for astronomical fees, while others were cheaper buys.

A handful have gone on to be enormous successes. The majority have proved to be – often very expensive – failures.

Hernan Crespo

£16.8million from Inter Milan, August 2003

The Argentine was the headline arrival of Abramovich’s first summer at Chelsea, when over £150m was splashed to transform them into a title-challenging force.

Crespo scored 12 times in an encouraging first season in England, was then farmed out on loan to AC Milan when Jose Mourinho before returning to play a substantial role in Chelsea’s 2005-06 Premier League title win.

He was a popular figure among Chelsea fans but his family struggled to settle in London and he ultimately would return to Italy in a series of loan spells and then permanently. Verdict: MISS

Hernan Crespo enjoyed his moment but his time at Chelsea overall was a disappointment 

Adrian Mutu

£15m from Parma, August 2003

An eye-catching arrival during that first Abramovich spending spree, the Romanian made a blistering start with four goals in his first three appearances, including two against Tottenham.

After a first season that finished with 10 goals, he found Mourinho more difficult to get on with than Claudio Ranieri.

Then at the start of the 2004-05 season, Mutu was banned from football for seven months for cocaine use, destroying his Chelsea career.

Mutu was ordered to repay Chelsea millions for breach of contract and there was a lengthy legal dispute. MISS

Adrian Mutu’s time at Chelsea turned into a nightmare after a ban for taking cocaine 

Didier Drogba

£24m from Marseille, July 2004

Signing Drogba proved to be an absolute masterstroke. Mourinho wanted the Ivorian as soon as he came in as Chelsea’s manager and despite initial fears he wouldn’t live up to a chunky price tag, he would become a club legend.

16 goals in each of his first two seasons saw Drogba become a back-to-back Premier League champion and he ended up with 157 goals in 341 games for Chelsea during his first spell.

That culminated in Champions League glory in 2012 after he headed an 88th-minute equaliser to take Bayern Munich into extra time.

He duly returned in 2014 to add a fourth league title to his collection and will always be adored at the Bridge. HIT

Didier Drogba proved to be one of the best signings Chelsea made as he scored prolifically 

Mateja Kezman

£5.3m from PSV Eindhoven, July 2004

Took the No 9 shirt after becoming Mourinho’s first signing as Chelsea boss but was unable to translate his record-breaking scoring feats in Holland to English football.

He lasted just one season at the club and scored seven times in 41 appearances as he struggled to make much of a lasting impact. MISS

Mateja Kezman wasn’t able to replicate his hit scoring form in Holland in the Premier League

Andriy Shevchenko

£30m from AC Milan, May 2006

Abramovich’s persistence persuaded Shevchenko, a striker with a proven pedigree over may year, to swap AC Milan for Chelsea for what was a British record transfer fee of £30m.

He had the odd moment but overall was a significant disappointment for such a headline signing, scoring just 22 times in two seasons in the team before a loan back to Milan.

Scored a memorable goal to dump rivals Tottenham out of the FA Cup but overall a huge let-down for the money. MISS

Abramovich was keen on Andriy Shevchenko but he didn’t live up to his British record fee

Salomon Kalou

£9m from Feyenoord, May 2006

This Ivorian forward wasn’t quite in Drogba’s class but didn’t exactly do badly in six seasons with the club.

Kalou scored 60 goals and helped the club win a Premier League title, four FA Cup, a League Cup and the Champions League.

Had a habit of scoring important goals, which endeared him to the Chelsea fans and is largely remembered with fondness despite being frustrating at times. HIT

Salomon Kalou scored 60 times for Chelsea and won a host of honours after signing for £9m

Claudio Pizarro

Free from Bayern Munich, June 2007

Cost Chelsea nothing when Mourinho snapped him up ahead of his fourth season in charge of the club.

Scored against Birmingham on the opening weekend of the season before falling out of favour once Avram Grant had replaced Mourinho. His only other goal for the club also came against Birmingham.

Left for a loan at Werder Bremen after just one season. MISS

Claudio Pizarro arrived on a free transfer from Bayern Munich, scoring against Birmingham 

Nicolas Anelka

£15m from Bolton, January 2008

Was one of the Premier League’s most reliable strikers at Bolton when Chelsea signed him in the January transfer window of 2008.

After a sluggish start, Anelka excelled the following year with 25 goals and then helped Chelsea to the league and cup double under Carlo Ancelotti in 2009-10.

With 59 goals in 184 games for Chelsea, this was one of the better stop-offs on a long and winding career for the Frenchman. HIT

Nicolas Anelka scored regularly for Chelsea and proved to be a very worthwhile signing

Daniel Sturridge

£3.5m from Manchester City, July 2009

An exciting young prospect when Chelsea signed him from Manchester City when his contract there expired, with the fee decided by a tribunal.

A quick-fire turnover of managers at Chelsea meant Sturridge never realised his potential there, in the end scoring 24 times in 96 games either side of a prolific loan at Bolton.

He also suffered his fair share of injury setbacks. Found his best form under Andre Villas-Boas but that proved to be brief joy for both player and manager. Did much better when moved on to Liverpool. MISS

Daniel Sturridge enjoyed brief flickers of form at Chelsea but performed better at Liverpool

Fernando Torres

£50m from Liverpool, January 2011

This was an astonishing transfer at the time, especially in the January window, as Chelsea paid a British record £50m to sign a Spanish striker who’d been outstanding for Liverpool.

Unfortunately, that non-stop scoring at Anfield dried up immediately in London and it took Torres 903 minutes to open his Chelsea account, in that time becoming a figure of ridicule.

Given his largely unreliable form when at Chelsea, it’s a surprise to note he did score 45 times, the most famous coming against Barcelona in the 2012 Champions League semi-final.

He also scored in the Europa League final win a year later, capping his best season in Chelsea blue. Overall, given his expensive price tag, it’s impossible to say Torres lived up to expectations. MISS

£50m Fernando Torres flopped almost as soon as he arrived at Liverpool in January 2011

Romelu Lukaku

£12m from Anderlecht, August 2011

One of the most exciting young strikers in the European game when he arrived from Belgian club Anderlecht in the summer of 2011.

But really he was just surplus to requirements in the Chelsea attack and could never force his way into the manager’s thinking despite scoring prolifically at West Brom and Everton when on loan.

Ultimately sold to Everton in 2014 for £28m with no apparent path to the Chelsea first team available. Lukaku’s career trajectory has since gone skywards and Chelsea have been keen to bring him back at least twice, suggesting some regrets. MISS

Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku was surplus to requirements during his time at Chelsea 

Demba Ba

£7m from Newcastle United, January 2013

Senegalese striker Ba had been excellent for Newcastle United, prompting Chelsea to poach him in the mid-season window of 2012-13.

Was always intended to be cover in attack and subsequently never became a regular starter but he did score some significant goals, not least in a Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain and against Liverpool after Steven Gerrard’s famous slip.

Left for Besiktas to make way for Diego Costa after 14 goals for Chelsea. HIT

Demba Ba wasn’t a regular up front for Chelsea but he did chip in with some important goals

Samuel Eto’o

£2m from Anzhi, August 2013

A brief but eventful cameo for the veteran striker after signing from moneybags Russian club Anzhi.

Spent just one season with Chelsea but netted 12 times and endeared himself to the fans. The highlight was a stunning hat-trick against Man United at Stamford Bridge.

Had a chalk and cheese relationship with Mourinho but something of a cult hero. HIT

Eto’o celebrates scoring for Chelsea against Liverpool – he was something of a cult hero

Diego Costa

£32m from Atletico Madrid, July 2014

Very little to fault about this one. Costa was a physical, combative and a real handful for defenders as he made the adjustment to Premier League football with ease.

That made his loved by Chelsea fans, not least for his prolific scoring returns, but hated by everyone else, who viewed him as a dirty cheat.

Helped Chelsea win the league in his first and final seasons with 20-plus goal returns before returning to Atletico Madrid. HIT

Diego Costa was adored by Chelsea fans and has been one of their best modern strikers 

Loic Remy

£10.5m from Queens Park Rangers, August 2014

Never a regular after making the short move across west London from QPR but nonetheless scored some vital goals in the 2014-15 title win, including a late equaliser against Manchester City.

Was plagued by a knee injury thereafter and failed to reach his full potential, the Frenchman spending his last season on Chelsea’s books out on loan at Crystal Palace. MISS

Loic Remy did well in his first season at Chelsea before injuries slowed down his progress

Radamel Falcao

Loan from Monaco, July 2015

Having made next to no impact in the Premier League during a torrid season with Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United, Falcao thought he could exorcise those demons with Chelsea.

It didn’t happen, with just one goal in 12 outings before the Colombian was struck down by injuries and had to rebuild his career at parent club Monaco. MISS

Radamel Falcao’s second crack at English football with Chelsea was as poor as his first 

Alexandre Pato

Loan from Corinthians, January 2016

One of the hottest prospects in the world when he joined Milan as a teenager, Pato’s career nosedived amid a succession of poor performances and injuries.

Having returned home to resurrect his career with Corinthians, Chelsea evidently believed he could still make an impact when they loaned him during the disastrous 2015-16 campaign.

But basically they already had plenty of forward and didn’t need him. Having waited three months, Pato scored on his debut at Aston Villa but that would prove to be one of only two games in Chelsea colours. MISS

Alexandre Pato celebrates scoring against Aston Villa – his one and only goal for Chelsea 

Michy Batshuayi

£33m from Marseille, July 2016

In demand from a number of clubs in the summer of 2016 after a great season with Marseille, Batshuayi opted to sign for Chelsea and was Antonio Conte’s first buy.

Just 25 goals and four loan spells later, it’s fair to conclude it isn’t going to happen for the Belgium at Stamford Bridge.

Did reasonably well initially given his limited game time but was then pushed downtime pecking order and spent time on loan with Borussia Dortmund, Valencia and then Crystal Palace (twice). MISS

Michy Batshuayi’s Chelsea career has been one long succession of loan spells 

Alvaro Morata

£60m from Real Madrid, July 2017

Like Torres, another forward who arrived with the burden of an enormous price tag and just couldn’t live up to the sky-high expectations.

Morata did score 15 times during his first season at the club as Chelsea finished a disappointing fifth in the table under Conte.

Then under Maurizio Sarri, Morata struggled so much the club just decided to cut their losses with him, sending him on loan at Atletico Madrid. The good news was that they recouped almost all of the money spent on the Spaniard. MISS

Alvaro Morata came with a £60million price tag but failed to meet expectations in England 

Olivier Giroud

£18m from Arsenal, January 2018

The French striker had scored frequently for Arsenal but made the move across town midway through the 2017-18 season.

He’s since become a popular figure at Chelsea, not just for his goalscoring – 39 in 119 games – but his all-round centre forward’s work rate.

Chelsea have just extended his contract by another year and even aged 34 he’s still making important contributions. Certainly not a bad back-up to have if Haaland does come in…. HIT

French striker Olivier Giroud is much liked at Chelsea for his all-round centre forward play

Gonzalo Higuain

Loan from Juventus, January 2019

Higuain was reunited with manager Sarri mid-way through his one and only season in charge, having previously worked together at Chelsea.

Spent just a few months at Chelsea before going back to Juventus but chipped in with a useful five goals and picked up a winners medal in the Europa League. HIT

Gonzalo Higuain was reunited with Maurizio Sarri on loan and won the UEFA Europa League

Timo Werner

£47.5m from RB Leipzig, July 2020

The latest big money arrival in the striking department was Werner, signed by Frank Lampard amid a spending splurge last summer.

Came with a brilliant reputation for regular scoring when at Leipzig in the Bundesliga and initially started well enough at Chelsea.

However, went on a long and embarrassing barren run while admitting to struggles adapting to the English game.

Thomas Tuchel has improved things a bit, making use of Werner’s all-round attributes more, but the fact Chelsea are looking to sign a new striker having spent almost £50m on him speaks volumes really. JURY’S OUT

Timo Werner arrived with high expectations but his first season has been up and down




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