Chelsea Transfers: 7 Players the Blues Sold Too Soon
If you are bothered enough to go through every squad in the Premier League, you're bound to find at least one ex-Chelsea player there. Whether that's a testament to Chelsea's transfer strategy or purely because they aren't deemed good enough is a story for another time. So why do we see so many Chelsea players leave?
Well, the amount of managers arriving and then walking out the exit door is getting higher, and if some players don't get on with the manager, they leave.
Player turnover at Stamford Bridge has been excessively high. Not so much anymore, but in the big spending days up until 2007, Chelsea brought in the likes of Hernan Crespo, Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack, but all were out of West London within two to three years after joining.
Even now, Chelsea have the best part of 24 players out on loan, around a third of which play top-flight football for those clubs.
And while the Blues are bound to have made millions from player sales, we've picked out seven players who we think they should have thought twice about before pushing them out the door.
Didier Drogba (Galatasaray)
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There's more than just the one reason as to why Chelsea fans voted Didier Drogba the club's best player of all time in a recent survey.
The survey, conducted by the club's official magazine, gave the fans several options, including Gianfranco Zola, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Peter Osgood, but they voted the Ivorian hitman as their favorite of all time (ESPN).
If it were based on goals scored, then Frank Lampard would've topped that list. If it were loyalty to the club, then perhaps John Terry. And if the club wanted to know whether it was a popularity contest or not, Zola would hands down sail through with victory.
But that night in May, when Drogba scored the equalizer in the Champions League Final and then the winning penalty in Munich, he became, if not already, a legend.
His departure for Shanghai Shenhua in the summer was dismissed as an inevitability, with Fernando Torres handed the task of spearheading the Chelsea attack. But the Spaniard hasn't coped well with the pressure, whereas Drogba would've thrived on it.
And although the Blues didn't technically sell Drogba, they didn't exactly fight to keep him.
The 34-year-old, now at Galatasaray after a contractual dispute with the Chinese side, looks to be set for another shot at winning the Champions League, although his new club are ranked outsiders. His former team, however, are consigned to watch him on Tuesday and Wednesday nights before taking part in the rather unglamorous Europa League every Thursday.
And when you consider just eight months ago they were celebrating together, the possibility of seeing Drogba win the Champions League without them is the ultimate humiliation.
Glen Johnson (Liverpool)
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Probably one of the most costly departures from Chelsea, Glen Johnson can hold his head knowing his transfer to Chelsea 10 years ago was the start of something revolutionary.
The 18-year-old Johnson was targeted by new Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich as the first signing of his era as owner of the club and moved in the summer of 2003 for a fee of £6.6 million.
The former West Ham and Portsmouth defender developed into an England international right-back at Chelsea, but found himself lodged behind Portuguese defender Paulo Ferreira under Jose Mourinho and decided to move to Portsmouth on loan for the 2006-07 season.
He impressed, making 26 appearances at Fratton Park under Harry Redknapp, and moved on a permanent deal the following summer. However, after becoming a big name at the South Coast club, he soon had a list of admirers, including former club Chelsea.
Both the Blues and Liverpool made offers of £17 million for the 28-year-old, but instead of returning to the club where he made his name, Johnson opted to join the Merseyside club.
Now established at England's first-choice right-back and one of the best right-backs in the Premier League, Chelsea must be ruing the fact they ever let him go.
Tiago (Atletico Madrid)
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Tiago was one of Jose Mourinho's first signings as Chelsea manager, and was one of the first departures too.
He joined from Benfica in the summer of 2004 for a fee of £12.5 million, but didn't make his Chelsea debut until a few games in as he was involved in Portugal's Olympic squad.
However, most Blues fans will remember the scorcher he produced on his debut against Crystal Palace, and since then, Tiago has been a fan favorite, even eight years after leaving the club.
An elegant midfielder with an eye for a pass but preferring to stay deep, he was a solid part of Chelsea's title-winning side in the 2004-05 season, partnering Claude Makelele and Frank Lampard in the midfield as the Blues stormed to the title.
For reasons never fully explained, the Blues accepted a £8.5 million offer from Lyon, who had sold Michael Essien to Chelsea earlier in the summer for three times that fee. And Jose Mourinho, not usually one to bask in the light of his own errors, admitted letting him go was a "mistake." (The Sun)
Spells in France, Italy and now Spain have seen the 31-year-old experience different styles in the game, and with 24 La Liga appearances last year, he still remains part of Atletico's plans, even if he is a bit-part player.
The arrivals of world-class midfielders at Stamford Bridge may have softened the blow of Tiago's departure, but nevertheless, the former Juventus man will remain a fond memory of Chelsea's dominance in English football.
Franco Di Santo (Wigan)
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Franco Di Santo is the perfect example of why Chelsea never have invested too heavily in youth before 2012.
A £5 million signing for Chilean side Audax Italiano, Di Santo was something of a revelation for his impressive five-goal haul at the SAM U20 Championships, where Chelsea scouts were initially said to be scouting Angel Di Maria.
However, he never scored a Premier League for Chelsea after being handed only a limited number opportunities in the first team and was farmed out on loan to Sam Allardyce's Blackburn Rovers.
Di Santo impressed during his time at Ewood Park, although he scored just once in his 22 appearances under Sam Allardyce, and the club decided not to pursue a permanent deal.
But with his future at Chelsea looking bleak, Di Santo was offered the chance to join Wigan in the summer of 2010 and has never looked back, scoring 13 goals in 82 games. But his influence on the team is growing every match, reflected by him winning his first cap for Argentina in recent weeks.
Miroslav Stoch (Fenerbahce)
The rise of Miroslav Stoch has been capped by a magnificent 2012, where he picked up the prestigious FIFA Puskas Award.
Stoch, a full international for Slovakia, winning 36 caps, was perhaps slightly unlucky during his time at Chelsea, where he made just four appearances all from the bench.
He was farmed out on loan to FC Twente under former England manager Steve McClaren and impressed during his time in Holland, scoring 10 goals in 32 games. It was this spell which caught the eye of Turkish giants Fenerbahce, who paid £5 million to bring Stoch to the Sukru Saracoglu stadium in the summer of 2010.
A small but quick winger, he's no different to current Chelsea winger Marko Marin. An explosive player, his goal for Fenerbahce against Genclerbirgli was named as goal of the year by FIFA, with his stunning 30-yard volley sailing past the keeper (see the video above).
Stoch is now seen as a key player for Aykut Kocaman's side, occupying the No. 9 jersey, and it's perhaps a lesson learned for the Chelsea management that they need to give players more of a chance to impress.
Gokhan Tore (Rubin Kazan)
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A part of Chelsea's strategy to sign up the best talent in world football, Gokhan Tore was hailed as a huge talent at Stamford Bridge during his two years at the club.
The Turkish international joined the West Londoners from Bayer Leverkusen in 2009, after being scouted by chief scout Frank Arnesen, and played for the Under-18 and Reserve side during his time at Chelsea.
However, Tore's chances seemed to be limited as the amount of talent at the club increased and although he never actively looked for a way out, he jumped at the chance for first-team football when Bundesliga outfit Hamburg came calling in 2011.
Arnesen, who had moved from Chelsea to Hamburg to be their technical director, had a major say in transfers and signed no less than three Blues youngsters, with Michael Mancienne and Jeffrey Bruma also joining the Germans.
He had an impressive start to his career at the Imtech Arena, bagging six assists in 22 appearances, although Hamburg stuttered to a disappointing 15th place in the league. But Russian club Rubin Kazan identified Tore as a promising talent and splashed around £8.5 million to bring him to the Europa League challengers.
He's made only four appearances since his move to Russia, but the value that Tore holds at just 21 years old and the potential of the forward means that Chelsea have let go of another exciting youngster.
Claude Makelele (PSG—Coach)
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How does it feel to have a position on a football pitch named after you? Well, don't ask me. Claude Makelele...now there's a man who'll be able to answer that query for you.
The Frenchman, now retired after an emphatic 20-year career in Europe, enjoyed successful spells at Real Madrid and, of course, Chelsea. A defensive midfielder, or should I say the defensive midfielder, he will go down in history as one of the best ever in his position, which is also known as the "Makelele Role."
Signed by Claudio Ranieri in 2003 for around £15 million, the move was hailed as a coup for the West Londoners, and for many in world football, there was no explanation as to why Real Madrid let such an influential midfielder leave the club.
French legend Zinedine Zidane joined many in criticizing the decision to let him go, famously saying: "Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the engine?" (Daily Mail), referring to Florentino Perez's signing of David Beckham, who replaced the "engine" Makelele.
Whichever way you look at it, Madrid's loss was Chelsea's gain. He was a key part of the Chelsea side, the backbone of the team, if you will. And when he bid farewell to West London after five glorious seasons at Chelsea to move to Paris Saint-Germain, there was certainly a gaping hole left in the midfield.
Many have tried to fill it. Lassana Diarra and Michael Essien left and, as a result, seemingly failed, while John Obi Mikel is far from a finished article.
And so while former France international felt it made sense to stay at the club where he retired to become Assistant Manager, why on earth did Chelsea not make the effort to bring back their former star to help mentor the next Makelele?