Chelsea: The 5 Biggest Transfer Flops of the Roman Abramovich Era

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2013

Chelsea: The 5 Biggest Transfer Flops of the Roman Abramovich Era

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    Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, Joe Cole, Michael Essien—these players all have one thing in common in that they've been part of a blue revolution at Stamford Bridge led by Roman Abramovich's billions.

    But while they have enjoyed success with so many other additions throughout Abramovich's decade in west London, there are some signings best left forgotten.

    The likes of Alexei Smertin, Cameroon midfielder Geremi and Dutch defender Khalid Boulahrouz have all failed to capture the imagination during their time as Chelsea players, but they were hardly flops on account of not much being expected of them when they joined the club.

    Some astronomical transfer fees have been paid at Chelsea and Bleacher Report identifies five who failed to live up to their billing.

Juan Sebastian Veron

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    Juan Sebastian Veron is a unique case in that he would probably make the list of another Premier League club's list of transfer flops—Manchester United.

    Sir Alex Ferguson was so enamored with the Argentine midfielder's performances for Lazio, he splashed out a reported £28.1 million for his services in 2001. But within a few months, it became apparent the normally transfer-savvy Scot have bought a dud.

    The Veron from Serie A had vanished and United were left with a fraction of the player they thought they were buying.

    That the Red Devils managed to sell him for £15 million to Chelsea in 2003 is nothing short of a miracle given how bad his two years in Manchester had proved.

    He may have scored on his Premier League debut for Chelsea in a 2-1 victory against Liverpool at Anfield, but it was a false dawn. It was the best Blues fans would see of their expensive import.

    He managed just 14 appearances all season and when Jose Mourinho was appointed manager the following year, he wasted little time in shipping him out of the club on loan to Inter Milan.

    He remained there for two seasons, later joining Estudiantes on loan before finally ending his Chelsea nightmare in 2007 when he returned permanently to his homeland.

Adrian Mutu

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    "Scott Parker lived near Mutu at Chelsea Harbour for a while," Frank Lampard recalls in his autobiography Totally Frank. "Scottie is the ultimate professional—never late and always well prepared—but on occasion he would travel to Harlington [Chelsea's old training ground] with Mutu.

    "One morning he bumped into Mutu as he was coming out of the lift in their building. Mutu looked rough and had obviously enjoyed a good night—so good, he was just getting in. He begged Scottie to wait for him while he got changed into his training gear...when the story leaked that he had tested positive for cocaine I wasn't exactly shocked."

    Signed for £15.8 million in the summer of 2003, Adrian Mutu scored four goals in his first three matches. From then on his form was hit and miss and taking the above quotes from Lampard into account, it's not difficult to see how and why his Chelsea career came to an abrupt end.

    In September 2004 the Romanian failed a drugs test for cocaine and his contract was terminated by the club with Mutu fined £20,000 by the FA and given a ban.

    Chelsea have since sought to gain compensation from Mutu, but while the club has won the case in court, the appeal process means it continues to ramble on today.

Andriy Shevchenko

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    To see Andriy Shevchenko in his prime at Dynamo Kiev and AC Milan was to witness a thing of footballing beauty.

    The Ukrainian striker was a phenomenal talent, but unfortunately for Chelsea they paid £30 million to bring him to Stamford Bridge three years too late.

    By the time he arrived from AC Milan in 2006, Shevechenko was past his best and despite his efforts throughout his time in West London, the player Europe—and indeed the world—had grown to love, was long gone.

    He scored 14 goals in his first season, followed by just nine in 2007/08, meaning in transfer fees alone the Blues paid a whopping £1.3 million per goal scored.

    He spent two years with the club before returning to Milan on loan in 2008, joining boyhood club Dynamo Kiev in 2009.

Asier Del Horno

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    Signed for £8 million from Athletic Bilbao in 2005, Asier Del Horno was tipped as the next big thing in Spanish football.

    He had not long scored the winning goal against England in a friendly at the Bernabeu and joined the Blues with a fine reputation.

    Call it what you will, though—a crisis of confidence or a simple lack of ability—things turned sour very quickly.

    He had been successful in nudging Wayne Bridge down the pecking order at left-back—who was recovering from a broken ankle injury at the time—but the turning point came against Barcelona in February 2006.

    That night Del Horno faced a certain Lionel Messi, then a 17-year-old and causing waves across Europe. The youngster gave Del Horno a torrid time and the Blues defender was sent off, with Barca winning the game 2-1.

    From that day, Del Horno has simply been a fraction of the defender many had tipped for great things. He was soon replaced by Ashley Cole and sold to Valencia for a reported £5 million. He remained at the Mestalla for five years, with a number of loan spells, but made just 15 league appearances for the club.

    Now 32, he was released by Levante last season and currently does not have a club.

Scott Parker

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    Long coveted by Claudio Ranieri, Chelsea's then-manager finally got his man in January 2004, signing Scott Parker for £10 million from Charlton Athletic.

    The 23-year-old was one of England's up and coming stars and in a 4-2 Boxing Day victory for Charlton over Chelsea that season had marshalled the midfield with aplomb. Facing the talent of Frank Lampard, Claude Makelele and Joe Cole, he was magnificent and it proved enough to convince Ranieri to bring him to West London.

    He scored his one and only Blues goal in his second appearance against Portsmouth and while he became established, a change of manager that summer meant Parker fell victim to the very billions that brought him to Chelsea.

    Jose Mourinho was shaping the Blues very much in his vision, signing a number of players for big fees and Parker it seemed wasn't part of those plans. And when he did get an opportunity, a broken metatarsal against Norwich in December 2004 ended his season. By the summer of 2005, he had joined Newcastle United.

    Chelsea fans will agree, Parker's time at Stamford Bridge was anything other than what had been expected and given all he has achieved since, the club has certainly lost out in the long run.

    Ironically, given Chelsea's current problems, Parker is a player they could very much do with right now.