Of all the teams to regularly find themselves towards the top of the Premier League table, Chelsea have been among the busiest in the transfer market.
Plenty of their big-money buys have more than repaid their fees, too, with Didier Drogba and Michael Essien among those to help secure the trophies they were brought in to provide.
However, plenty of others have not been nearly as successful. We’ve taken a look at seven of the worst from the Premier League era.
7. Fernando Torres
Yes, Torres scored that memorable Champions League semi-final goal in 2012, and sure, he scored as Chelsea won the Europa League final the following year, but that was simply just enough to move him from worst to a mere seventh-worst.
The Spaniard cost £50m and took 15 games to score his first goal for the club. It didn’t get significantly better after that, and he left the club with a record of one goal every five-and-a-half games in the league.
To put that into context, he took just 27 games to score the same number for Liverpool that he managed in three-and-a-half seasons as a Blues player.
6. Juan Sebastián Verón
If signing Torres after an injury-hit season was akin to buying a fixer-upper of a car, Verón felt more like a bike with a missing wheel.
We’ve grown accustomed to Chelsea loaning out £15m signings in the hope of turning a profit, but in the Argentine’s case, it was about getting an injury-prone player off their books any way they could.
His four-year contract amounted to just 14 Chelsea games, and when you factor in wages on top of the hefty fee the outlay per minute doesn’t even bear thinking about.
5. Gaël Kakuta
Kakuta didn’t cost Chelsea all that much at the time, but the amount of stress he caused the club really doesn’t feel worthwhile in retrospect.
Two years after signing from Lens, the French youngster was banned, with Chelsea given a transfer ban and both handed six-figure fines. The courts eventually found in Chelsea’s favour, with the ban ultimately overturned, but by that point the club was already wondering whether it was all worth the hassle.
Kakuta played a grand total of sixteen games for Chelsea, just five of them starts, and failed to score a single goal for the club. His six years at Chelsea represented one hell of a false start for a player of whom big things were expected, and he would eventually give up on his dreams of full international recognition with France, declaring for the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 2017.
He is now at Rayo Vallecano with former Chelsea teammate Franco di Santo. And we say “teammate” in the loosest sense of the word.
4. Andriy Shevchenko
Back to the big-money flops. Shevchenko cost £30m from Milan, but failed to reach 30 goals for the London club.
Like Torres after him, Sheva became something of a cult hero for the club, not least for a goalline clearance in a 2008 victory over Manchester United which almost helped the Blues earn the most unlikely of Premier League titles under Avram Grant.
It probably tells you all you need to know that, with Shevchenko among the substitutes for that season’s Champions League final, Grant opted instead to introduce Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou from the bench.
3. Chris Sutton
You might have thought Chelsea might have heeded the warnings about big-money strikers after the catastrophe of Sutton’s signing in 1999.
The Blackburn man had been a big part of Rovers’ run to the Premier League title… a full four years earlier. By the time he moved to London for a club record £10m, though, he had gone nine months without scoring.
He might have rediscovered his mojo after leaving the Blues for Celtic, but Sutton’s time in London made Torres like prolific by contrast: his three goals from 39 appearances came against Skonto Riga, Hull City and Massimo Taibi.
2. Adrian Mutu
If you thought things couldn’t get much worse than a non-scoring striker, you don’t know Chelsea.
Not only did £15m forward Mutu struggle in front of goal, but he failed a drug test towards the end of his second year as a Chelsea player – after he’d already been loaned out after failing to impress José Mourinho in what might have been the most obvious turn of events possible.
Still, at least Chelsea got their money back with the Romanian, suing him for breach of contract and securing an eight-figure settlement following a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling. Which is more than you can say about the man at number one on the list.
1. Winston Bogarde
Winston Bogarde’s name has almost become shorthand for the perils of big spending, and the ironic thing is he signed before Chelsea were splashing the cash to the extent they are today, so the financial hit may have been more keenly felt.
For those unaware of the story, Bogarde arrived at Stamford Bridge shortly before his 30th birthday, after injuries had restricted him to just 50 games in two-and-a-half years at Barcelona. So far, so relatively normal. But then Gianluca Vialli, the manager who signed Bogarde, was dismissed before the Dutchman’s debut.
“Chelsea offered me a contract, I signed the contract, so what is the problem?” Bogarde said. That contract was worth a reported £10m over four years, and he played just 13 times for the club – 12 of them in his first three months under Ranieri.
Bogarde knew he wouldn’t be able to get close to the same money elsewhere, so he continued to come in for training, even when he was banished to train with the reserves, because he knew what he needed to do to avoid being sacked.
We’d love to say the club learned from their mistakes and didn’t hand big money to other non-playing individuals, but *gestures in vague direction of West London*.