Grading the Success of Chelsea's 5 Most Expensive Transfers Under Abramovich

Laura Greene@@Greene_LFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2013

Grading the Success of Chelsea's 5 Most Expensive Transfers Under Abramovich

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    Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is one of the wealthiest men in the world.

    The Russian is the fifth richest man in the United Kingdom (The Independent) and is ranked No. 107 worldwide in the Forbes Billionaires List.

    Roman’s empire started when he bought the Stamford Bridge outfit in 2003. The Sun claims he has spent upwards of £2 billion on players since then. Buying expensive players for your football club is a little easier when you are worth an estimated £6.7 billion.

    During the last decade, the oligarch’s deep pockets have seen Chelsea recruit some of the most exciting players ever to grace the Premier League. The Abramovich era has also been true to the law of averages—it has witnessed some flops too.

    Here we examine the five most expensive transfers of Abramovich’s tenure and grade them as a hit or a miss.

    Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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Hit: Michael Essien

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    Price: £24.4 million

    Michael Essien is up there as one of Roman Abramovich’s best buys.

    The Ghana international joined Chelsea from Ligue 1 side Lyon for £24.4 million in 2005 (BBC Football). 

    He is widely viewed as one of the most complete defensive midfielders the Premier League has ever seen.

    Essien played with enormous amounts of energy, which he attributed to 14 hours of sleep a day (Daily Mail), and was at his best playing in midfield, where he controlled Chelsea’s play from a deep-lying position. But he was equally at home playing in defence or at right-back. He could attack and defend with ease.

    The No.5 was a firm favourite among Blues fans and was named Player of the Year in his second season at the club. He also made the shortlist for FIFA World Player of the Year in 2007.

    Essien made 247 appearances for Chelsea and won two Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the 2007 Carling Cup.

    The 30 year-old, who has been on loan at Real Madrid this season, has been featured in recent rumours about a return to Chelsea. Reports in the Express suggest that he could play for the Blues under Jose Mourinho, should the Portuguese return to Stamford Bridge. 

Hit: Oscar

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    Price: £25 million

    Oscar has been a revelation in the Premier League this season.

    Signed from Brazilian side Internacional last summer for a fee of £25 million (BBC Football), the 21-year-old has quickly adapted to life in the English top-flight.

    Oscar combines beautifully with fellow midfielders Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, and they promise to be one of the best midfield trios in Europe.

    In 63 matches for the Blues, the Brazilian playmaker has netted 12 goals and made 12 assists.

    Five of those goals came in the Champions League group stages and one in the Europa League in Chelsea’s 1-0 win against Sparta Prague.

Miss: Andriy Shevchenko

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    Price: £30.8 million

    Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea. Where did it all go wrong?

    It was a move that looked so good on paper. Shevchenko, in his prime, was one of the world’s deadliest goalscorers.

    In 322 appearances for AC Milan, the Ukrainian had scored 175 goals—making him the club’s second highest-ever marksman.

    Sheva scored 48 goals in 111 matches for his country ( and was voted Ukrainian Footballer of the Year six times.

    He also won five successive Ukrainian titles with FC Dynamo Kyiv, the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, the Ballon D’or (2004) and the Scudetto with Milan ( profile).

    But, after breaking the British transfer record (BBC Football) in 2006 with a £30.8 million move to Chelsea, a goal drought ensued.

    Shevchenko could only manage nine goals in 48 games for the Blues and he quickly fell down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge (The Independent).

    With each goal he scored for Chelsea costing £3.3 million, it’s fair to say that Shevchenko was not one of Abramovich’s better buys.

Hit: Eden Hazard

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    Price: £32 million

    Eden Hazard joined Chelsea (The Guardian) from Lille OSC last summer, after racking up 50 goals and 58 assists for the Ligue 1 side.

    The Belgian has enjoyed a successful debut season in the Premier League, where he has notched 13 goals and made 24 assists for Chelsea across all competitions.

    Most exciting, perhaps, is his link-up play with Oscar and Juan Mata. Hazard is a triumvirate of playmaking talent that looks set to dominate both domestically and on the European stage next season.

    Hazard’s dribbling skills, his strength on the ball and his finishing ability makes it easy to see why he was the subject of so much transfer speculation before putting pen to paper with Chelsea.

    At just 22 years-old, he has a lot more to offer, and is already proving his worth at Stamford Bridge. A bargain at £32 million.

Miss: Fernando Torres

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    Price: £50 million

    Fernando Torres has shown that a hefty price tag can weigh heavy upon a footballer's shoulders.

    Revered at Liverpool, where he scored 81 goals in 142 games, the striker's fortunes started to slip when he signed for Chelsea for a record breaking fee (Daily Mail).

    It took Torres 14 games before he got off the mark for Chelsea and, since joining the London club, has scored 34 goals in 130 appearances.

    Torres has won the World Cup and two European Championships with Spain and at Chelsea he has added the UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League to that haul.

    The Spaniard has also scored some decisive goals for the Blues, including his winning strike against Barcelona in the 2011/12 Champions League semi-final and the first goal in this week’s 2-1 win against SL Benfica in the Europa League final.

    The current season has been his best in a Chelsea shirt, with a return of 21 goals in 62 appearances.

    However, aged 29, it’s unlikely that Torres will ever recapture the form he had in his first season at Liverpool.

    At £50 million, Torres holds the dubious honour of being Chelsea’s most expensive miss.