Chelsea's 10 Richest Transfers of the Roman Abramovich Era

Charlie Melman@@charliemelmanCorrespondent IISeptember 7, 2012

Chelsea's 10 Richest Transfers of the Roman Abramovich Era

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    Since Roman Abromavich bought Chelsea in 2003, the club has never been the same.

    Every summer, the Blues are in for high profile signings. When things don't go as planned during the season, their billionaire owner is sure to bankroll another wave of them.

    In the past nine years, Chelsea fans have become accustomed to seeing a very good product put on the field and continuous investment in the team to let the trophies roll in.

    Though the landscape of football has changed significantly since Abromavich took over the club (and partially because of him), it is no coincidence that all of Chelsea's costliest signings have taken place under the Russian's watch.

    Let's look at the 10 most expensive deals coming in and going out that Chelsea have ever done.

Ricardo Carvalho: £20.1 Million from Porto

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    To many, £20 million is a large sum for someone who prevents goals rather than scores them, but Ricaro Carvalho proved to be worth every penny of his transfer fee during a six-year stay at Stamford Bridge.

    With impeccable positioning and the remarkable quickness and anticipation that made up for his relative lack of physical stature, Carvalho became one of the best and most valuable center-backs in the Premier League. He formed a solid partnership with John Terry during the Jose Mourinho era.

    He occasionally had to deal with some injury problems, which, in part, led to his exit for Real Madrid in 2010, but there were few more important players to Chelsea's success several years ago than the diminutive Portuguese center-back.

Shaun Wright-Phillips: £21 Million from Manchester City

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    Initially, Shaun Wright-Phillips didn't look to be worth the large sum that Chelsea paid Manchester City for him back when the Citizens were afterthoughts in the Premier League.

    He struggled to get consistent playing time at first, and Jose Mourinho didn't seem to want anything to do with him on a consistent basis.

    However, the Londoner experienced better days in 2007 and 2008, when he consistently provided a goalscoring and creative threat on the right wing, despite his diminutive stature.

    Eventually, though, Luiz Felipe Scolari grew tired of Wright-Phillips, and he rejoined Manchester City for considerably less than half of what Chelsea initially paid for him. For that reason, his time at Stamford Bridge will probably be considered unsuccessful.

David Luiz: £21 Million from Benfica

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    There was much hoopla and speculation surrounding David Luiz's potential arrival from Benfica for months prior to his official arrival; but, in the same transfer window as a more expensive signing we will see later, the Brazilian came aboard.

    Coming to London cup-tied in the Champions League and unaccustomed to the more physical style of defending in the Premier League, Luiz struggled initially. Many wondered whether "Sideshow Bob" could be a success in England.

    With time, though, he has made great strides. While not an automatic selection or the best defender, Luiz is proving himself worthy of the shirt he wears.

Juan Mata: £23.5 Million from Valencia

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    Last summer, there was considerable speculation over where exactly Mata would end up. In the end, a move to Arsenal failed to materialize and Chelsea snapped up the Spanish maestro.

    What a signing he has turned out to be. With Frank Lampard no longer able to perform his trademark marauding box-to-box runs, Mata became the hub of Chelsea's attack last season, and he has continued to look impressive with the creative burden spread out this season.

    We know that he has a wicked eye for goal, but his ability to keep things flowing in the middle of the pitch and pick a forward pass when it seems impossible have been instrumental to Chelsea's recent success.

Didier Drogba: £24 Million from Marseille

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    Didier Drogba needs no introduction. Over eight years, 100 league goals, multiple Premier League titles and a Champions League crown, the Ivorian has cemented himself as a club legend.

    He was a bit of a late bloomer, but when Drogba came into himself, he exploded onto the footballing scene. One insanely prolific season at Marseille earned him a £24 million move as one of Roman Abromavich's first big signings, and one of his best.

    Every club in the Premier League is happy that the fiercely intimidating Drogba will not be coming at them twice a year, although they might have thought that a year or two ago.

    Much to everyone's dismay, he kept on trucking at a high level right through the age of 34, which is just another reason why he is one of the best players in Chelsea's history.

Arjen Robben: £24 Million to Real Madrid

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    Once upon a time, when Arjen Robben had hair, the Dutchman was a destructive winger at Stamford Bridge, and one of the most valuable valuable players on the team.

    When he was playing, that is.

    The problem with Robben has always been that he can never remain on the pitch and fully utilize his talents for any extended period of time. He is, after all, known as "Glass Bones" for a reason.

    Eventually, Chelsea got tired of his fragility, and offloaded him to Real Madrid for the princely sum of £24 million, which is, by far, the highest transfer fee Chelsea have ever received for a player.

Michael Essien: £24.5 Million from Lyon

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    It's too bad that injuries have marginalized and ultimately forced Essien out of the club because he really was one of the most dynamic and exciting players in his prime.

    Since arriving from Lyon in 2005, Essien has combined an extremely powerful physique with crisp passing and a vicious long-distance shot to evolve into the best defensive midfielder in England, and, quite possibly, in the world.

    The boundless energy he exerts whenever he plays, his commitment to the proverbial cause and the tremendous diversity of his skillset have made him a truly great player over the last few years, and he still could be yet with Real Madrid.

Andriy Shevchenko: £30.8 from AC Milan

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    I suppose that this deal will go down in history as a boondoggle, driven mostly by Roman Abromavich's infatuation with one particular player.

    Already a legend at AC Milan, Shevchenko probably should not have left the San Siro, and his time at Chelsea was not a happy one from the beginning.

    Jose Mourinho neglected him time and time again, and, while Sheva undoubtedly still had the old reserve of talent within him, nine goals in 46 league games is hardly a return worthy of such an exorbitant transfer fee.

    He was certainly not the third-best player in Chelsea history, but he was the third-most expensive.

Eden Hazard: £32 Million from Lille

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    What a deal the Eden Hazard transfer is already looking to be.

    I hate to over-hype a new, young signing so soon after he debuts for his new club, but, based on his exceptional play, I think Hazard is truly worthy of all the plaudits he is receiving.

    Hazard is a truly dynamic and exciting player who can excel in virtually any attacking position he is deployed in. While mainly a left winger, and an extremely threatening one at that, Hazard could be just as effective as an attacking midfielder or on the other wing.

    Through only three games this season, he has four assists and a goal, and is the driving force behind Chelsea's mini-renaissance.

Fernando Torres: £50 Million from Liverpool

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    Last, but certainly not least, we have the man who broke the English transfer record, and almost wrecked his career in doing so, the enigma that is Fernando Torres.

    He was in poor form when he arrived at Stamford Bridge in January of 2011 for a fee that I feel we all can agree was a touch insane, and his tough luck continued for months after he arrived.

    Match after match passed by without Torres breaking his duck, and even after he did, he could not overtake Didier Drogba in the pecking order. The pariah of football and the bodily symbol of frivolity in the game, it looked as if Torres' career was permanently off the rails.

    Now, however, the old confidence and movement seems to be returning, and the Spaniard is leading Chelsea's line very well this season, scoring two goals already. Perhaps he will never justify his incredibly high transfer fee, but Fernando Torres is well and truly back.