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Didier Drogba and the 10 Best Chelsea Transfers in the Roman Abramovich Era

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2014

Didier Drogba and the 10 Best Chelsea Transfers in the Roman Abramovich Era

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    Tim Hales/Associated Press

    Summer is here and while there is a World Cup on the horizon, there is still some serious business to be carried out at football clubs across the globe.

    Manchester United have already made the biggest signing of the postseason thus far with the announcement Louis van Gaal will take over the reins as the club's new manager next year, but we can expect more big news as the weeks roll on.

    Make no mistake, we've entered that part of the year where tradition dictates the back pages will be full of gossip and done deals.

    Backed by the billions of Roman Abramovich, Chelsea will play a big part in it all.

    Indeed, the Blues are reportedly interested in a deal for Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic, per The Guardian, while the Daily Mail reports the transfer of Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid is imminent.

    They're the types of stars who will excite fans, but as we look back at Chelsea's business from previous summers, how effective has the club been since their Russian owner arrived in 2003?

    Bleacher Report highlights the best summer signings for each season Abramovich has called Stamford Bridge home.

2003-04: Claude Makelele

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    In Roman Abramovich's first summer as Chelsea owner he splashed the cash on a host of stars names.

    The likes of Juan Sebastian Veron, Wayne Bridge, Damien Duff and Joe Cole were all brought to Stamford Bridge for considerable fees.

    None of them topped the capture of Claude Makelele from Real Madrid.

    The Frenchman made a instant impact and in many ways changed how managers approached games tactically, looking to deploy midfielders in the same defensive area Makelele operated.

    Such was his influence, his position in midfield became known as the "Makelele Role"—a fitting tribute to just how impressive he was at Chelsea.

2004-05: Didier Drogba

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press/Associated Press

    It didn't need an image of Didier Drogba as the main shot for this slide show to give away the fact the Ivorian would feature in this list of Chelsea's best summer signings.

    The former Chelsea striker is potentially the best signing the club has made since Roman Abramovich purchased the club, leading the Blues to unprecedented glory.

    Indeed, the summer of 2004 was a fine vintage at Stamford Bridge as it was also the time when Jose Mourinho arrived from Porto—again, the manager having a considerable impact.

    Together, Mourinho and Drogba won the Premier League twice, the FA Cup and two League Cups to make Chelsea a dominant force.

    Drogba's crowning moment in blue came in 2012, though, when he scored the decisive penalty to secure victory in the Champions League, making Chelsea the first London club to lift the trophy.

    And if reports in the Daily Mail are to be believed, he could be returning this summer for another crack at glory.

2005-06: Michael Essien

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    Had it not been for his career being decimated by two serious knee injuries, Michael Essien would probably still be operating in defensive midfield for Chelsea.

    Instead, the Ghanaian was allowed to leave on a free transfer for AC Milan in January, bringing to an end his nine-year stay at Stamford Bridge.

    When he arrived in west London in the summer of 2005, he was highly-rated, coming as one of the continent's most-coveted rising stars.

    He didn't disappoint, either, playing a significant role in Chelsea's success under Jose Mourinho and successive managers.

    He was athletic, dynamic at times and above all else, physical. he scored some memorable goals in Chelsea colours, preventing plenty at the other end, too.

     

2006-07: Ashley Cole

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Still plying his trade at Chelsea after eight years with the club, Ashley Cole has been a fine servant of the club.

    Just how long he will remain a Chelsea player remains to be seen, however, with little news being revealed about a potential contract extension when his current deal expires in June.

    The Daily Mail recently reported his future remains up in the air, with a host of destinations potentially on the cards—including a surprise return to Arsenal.

    None of that will dampen how his Chelsea career has gone, though. He is a legend at the club, winning every major trophy possible to add to his bulging cabinet of silverware.

2007-08: Florent Malouda

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    After a glittering Chelsea career, Florent Malouda's time at the Blues fizzled out and ended in unfortunate circumstances.

    With a year remaining on his contract, the Frenchman spent all of 2012-13 on the sidelines, out of the picture and given few opportunities.

    Rewind to when he first arrived, however, and the former Lyon man was excellent.

    He gave Chelsea a wide option when at the time Jose Mourinho's team was often guilty of playing narrow, grinding teams down with their unrelenting approach.

    Malouda was a dynamic player with plenty of pace, and he outshone the likes of Claudio Pizarro and Steve Sidwell who arrived that same summer.

2008-09: Deco

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    The summer of 2008 was relatively quiet by Chelsea's standards with only Deco and Jose Bosingwa the signings of any note.

    Of the two Portugal internationals, it was Deco who impressed most, despite his time at Chelsea lasting just two seasons before he departed for Fluminense in Brazil in 2010.

    Deco's debut was a thing of dreams, with his excellent display against Portsmouth being rounded off with a goal as Chelsea win the game 4-0.

    He had some impressive displays thereafter and while they didn't quite scale those same heights, his time at Chelsea is more memorable than that of his compatriot Bosingwa.

2009-10: Nemanja Matic

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    We're cheating slightly here as when Nemanja Matic first arrived at Chelsea, limited opportunities meant his impact was minimal.

    It's only since he returned in January 2014 that we've seen the real Matic in a Chelsea shirt—his performances outlining the fact he will be a key player at Stamford Bridge for many years to come.

    Daniel Sturridge also joined Chelsea in the same summer. Since the Blues allowed him to join Liverpool in January 2013, the Englishman has realized his potential, yet in west London he often left the impression he would never cut it consistently at the highest level.

2010-11: Ramires

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    Despite the likes of Joe Cole, Deco and Ricardo Carvalho leaving Chelsea, Ramires was the only high-profile player the Blues added to their squad in the summer of 2010.

    The Brazilian arrived for £20 million from Benfica and after a period of adjustment, he soon burst into life.

    His athleticism is a major asset that he has put to good use in the Premier League, adding pace and guile to Chelsea's midfield.

    He will have been disappointed with how 2013-14 panned out, with his performances below the high standards he has often set. But in the four years he has been a Chelsea player, Ramires has proved himself a good capture.

2011-12: Juan Mata

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    For some Chelsea fans, the mere mention of Juan Mata's name remains too much to bear after he was sold to Manchester United in January.

    The Spaniard had been named the Blues' Player of the Year for two seasons running before 2013-14, when a change in tactics and approach upon Jose Mourinho's return saw him deemed surplus.

    His achievements in the two full seasons he was a Chelsea player will go down in folklore, however.

    The creative fulcrum of Chelsea's team, the Spaniard lifted the Champions League in 2012, followed up a year later by the Europa League.

    His connection with the fans was strong and despite him donning United's red jersey, it's a bond that hasn't been broken.

2012-13: Eden Hazard

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    On the back of Champions League success, 2012 was another good summer for Chelsea.

    The immediate aftermath may suggest otherwise given that the Blues were eliminated from the group stages of the Champions League in 2012-13, making them the first reigning champions to suffer such a fate.

    For the future, though, it was a summer of excellent business.

    Chelsea signed Oscar and Cesar Azpilicueta from Internacional and Marseille respectively, but it was the £32 million capture of Eden Hazard from Lille that really made an impression.

    Coveted all across Europe, the Blues did enough to convince the young Belgian that Stamford Bridge should be his next home and thus far, neither he nor the club has been disappointed.

    Chelsea have a player of phenomenal talent, while Hazard is becoming the focal point of everything the Blues do in attack, being named the 2014 Player of the Year.

    He is already a big name in the European game. A few more seasons like his past two and Hazard will be one of the biggest stars in the world.

2013-14: Andre Schurrle

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    With Willian also arriving at Chelsea last summer, it's a difficult task to separate the Brazilian and Andre Schurrle—the Blues' two best performers from their 2013 business.

    The German just shades it, though, on a few counts.

    At £18 million he cost a considerably less amount that the £30 million Chelsea paid Anzhi Makhachkala for Willian's services.

    Not only that, Schurrle is two years his teammate's junior, and in front of goal he is proving to be a considerable threat.

    He is a player with much more to achieve, and as his game evolves he could well become the top striker Chelsea are looking for.

    When Schurrle reaches Willian's age, the Blues will have a phenomenal talent.

    Not only that, the German is one of football's nice guys—always a major bonus in our book.

     

    Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes

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