Chelsea FC: 10 Players the Blues Should Not Have Sold During the Abramovich Era

Will J BakerCorrespondent IIIMarch 25, 2011

Chelsea FC: 10 Players the Blues Should Not Have Sold During the Abramovich Era

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 14:  Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich applauds his team on the final whistle following their 6-0 victory during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge on August 14, 2010 in Lond
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Since Roman Abramovich's takeover of Chelsea in June of 2003, he has spent £600 million amassing an enormous transfer turnover.

    With Abramovich's money, Chelsea have bought and sold players for exorbitant prices (the most notable being the recent £50 million purchase of Fernando Torres). 

    But who are the players who could have achieved more at the club? Who are the players that were sold too soon?

    In this article, I will list the 10 players that Chelsea never should have sold.

10. Gianfranco Zola

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    ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - FEBRUARY 07: Gianfranco Zola during the Laureus Football Challenge presented by IWC Schaffhausen as part of the 2011 Laureus World Sports Awards at the Emirates Palace on February 7, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Zola has been voted the greatest Chelsea player of all time by the fans and will be forever remembered on the Stamford Bridge terraces for his incredible skills and his incomparable sense of fair play. 

    Technically Zola left the club before Abramovich took over as he agreed to return to his native Italy amid rumors of an impending takeover.

    Unknown to many people is the fact that Abramovich desperately tried to make Zola renege on his verbal promise to return to Cagliari and stay on at Chelsea.

    If Zola had agreed to stay on another year then he would have had a huge part to play in Chelsea's attack in the Champions League which ended in the semifinals against Monaco—the final nail in the coffin of Claudio Ranieri. 

9. Franco Di Santo

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    BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28:  Franco Di Santo of Blackburn looks to stop the ball from going out during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City at Ewood Park on November 28, 2009 in Blackburn, England.  (Photo by Mat
    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    In the short time that this powerful but skillful young Argentine spent at the club, he showed enough potential for Chelsea to invest in him long term.

    Di Santo showed signs of what he was capable of at Stamford Bridge and, in my personal opinion, the club should have given him more time to develop and mature as a player (in the same way they have done with Salomon Kalou). 

    Di Santo was sold to Wigan in 2010 and has been asked to shoulder the goal-scoring burden at the DW Stadium. A tall order for a 21-year-old!

8. Carlo Cudicini

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 09: Goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini of Tottenham Hotspur gives instructions during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON 3rd Round match between Tottenham Hotspur and Charlton Athletic at White Hart Lane on January 9, 2011 in London, England.
    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Cudicini had been a loyal servant at Chelsea for 10 years when he finally decided to move to Tottenham in 2009.

    Before the arrival of Petr Cech, Cudicini was widely considered to be the best goalkeeper in the league saving six of the 12 penalties he faced while at the club.

    But after the signing of Cech, the Italian veteran was soon relegated to the position of understudy. Despite rumors that Cudicini wanted to return to his native Italy, Chelsea's former No. 1 was seemingly content to sit on the bench.

    He was finally released by the club in 2009, but this was a mistake as it meant that the error-prone Henrique Hilario would have to step in if Cech got injured (which he did during the 2010 preseason).

7. Lassana Diarra

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    MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 12: Lass Diarra of Real Madrid takes on ;Francisco Farinos of Hercules CF   during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Hercules CF at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on March 12, 2011 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Im
    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    This dynamic central defensive midfielder, once hailed as the "new Makelele," signed for Chelsea as a 20-year-old youngster in 2005. 

    Jose Mourinho rated Diarra very highly as a squad player, but with the arrival of Micheal Essien, Diarra decided to leave in pursuit of first team football. He was signed by Arsenal in 2007 and from there moved to Portsmouth where he was signed by Real Madrid for an astonishing £20 million.

    Diarra has thrived at the Bernabeu with 63 appearances for Madrid since 2009. First team opportunities have been hard to come by since his reunion with Jose Mourinho but "The Special One" has said that he sees Diarra as a starting player in the long term. 

6. Eidur Gudjohnsen

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05:  Eidur Gudjohnsen of Fulham warms up ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Fulham at Villa Park on February 5, 2011 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    Eidur Gudjohnsen started his Chelsea career in 2000 as an out and out striker, and he quickly forged a lethal partnership with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink with the combination yielding 50 goals in the 2001-02 campaign.

    Gudjohnsen scored some memorable goals for Chelsea with his overhead kick against Leeds in 2002-03 standing out as the best.

    But it was his remarkable football brain and passing ability that saw Jose Mourinho play him in a deeper role behind the strikers which, in my opinion, brought out the best in Gudjohnsen.

    He was sold to Barcelona in 2006, but I feel that he could have made a valuable contribution to Chelsea by adding to his 60 assists and 54 goals. 

5. Glen Johnson

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    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26:  Glen Johnson of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Fulham at Anfield on January 26, 2011 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Another young player that showed glimpses of incredible talent at Chelsea without ever revealing his true potential as an attacking right back.

    Johnson was inconsistent at the back but scored some fantastic goals, particularly against Blackburn in 2003-04, and if he had stayed at Chelsea, he may have improved and matured.

    He was sold to Portsmouth in 2007, and after a fantastic season in 2008-09, in which he was named in the PFA Team of the Year, he was signed by Liverpool for £17.5 million. Chelsea sold him for £4 million!

    Johnson has gone on to establish himself as England's premier right back and has become an integral part of the Liverpool side.

4. Joe Cole

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    BRAGA, PORTUGAL - MARCH 10:  Joe Cole of Liverpool holds off Leandro Sallino of Braga during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg match between Braga and Liverpool at Estadio Municipal de Braga on March 10, 2011 in Braga, Portugal.  (Photo by Juli
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Joe Cole was always a wildcard footballer. Incredibly skillful and with a knack of scoring important goals, Cole was a crucial part of Chelsea's title-winning side in 2005-06.

    He never managed to establish himself as a first team player under Carlo Ancelotti, and his form was seriously affected by a serious cruciate ligament injury in 2008.

    But the decision to let him move to Liverpool, on a free transfer as well, was a mistake particularly considering that, since his departure, Chelsea have lacked creativity at times and could have used his magic spark to unlock defences. 

3. Damien Duff

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    DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Damien Duff of Ireland during the Carling Nations Cup between Republic of Ireland and Wales at Aviva Stadium on February 8, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Duff was a crucial part of the team for the first two seasons of the Abramovich era, and his wing wizardry combined with that of Arjen Robben made Chelsea a deadly attacking force in 2004-05.

    The Irish star had the pace to get in behind defences and made a healthy contribution of goals and assists during his Stamford Bridge career. He was perhaps best employed on the right wing where he could cut inside and wreak havoc with his magic wand of a left foot.

    Duff was phased out by the arrival of Shaun Wright-Phillips who never achieved the same success at Chelsea as the Irishman and has gone on to play important roles for Newcastle and Fulham.  

2. Ricardo Carvalho

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    LYON, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 22:  Ricardo Carvalho of Real Madrid looks dejected during the Champions League match between Lyon and Real Madrid at Stade Gerland on February 22, 2011 in Lyon, France.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Carvalho was one of the most underrated players of the entire Abramovich era showing an incredible willingness to start attacks and to get forward from the center back position.

    Carvalho was without equal in timing his tackles and was the perfect defensive partner for club captain John Terry. Parallels could be drawn between Carvalho and David Luiz.

    The decision to sell Carvalho to Real Madrid at the start of the 2010-11 campaign backfired with the injury of Alex and the need to play Ivanovic at right back. Chelsea were desperately short of cover in the central defensive region with youngster Jeffrey Bruma being asked to step up to the plate.

    Times have changed now with the return of Alex and the arrival of Luiz but a few months ago, Carlo Ancelotti would have been deeply regretting his decision to sell his No. 6.

1. Arjen Robben

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    MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 23:  Arjen Robben of FC Bayern Muenchen looks on during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Inter Milan v FC Bayern Muenchen on February 23, 2011 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    Robben was once billed as the next Johan Cruyff and his mercurial wing play and partnership with Damien Duff was one of the main strengths of Mourinho's title-winning side.

    Robben had incredible dribbling skills and an eye for goal and, in my opinion, he could have gone on to become one of the best players in Chelsea history if he had not been sold to Real Madrid in 2007.

    Robben's time at Chelsea was injury-plagued, but he had his whole career ahead of him after signing for the club as a 22-year-old.

    Robben has since made his mark as a world-class player with a wonder goal against Manchester United in the Champions League last season and an exemplary World Cup performance that saw Holland reach the Final.

The Final Word...

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 20:  Ramires of Chelsea is lifted by David Luiz in celebration as he scores their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on March 20, 2011 in London, England.  (P
    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    If Chelsea had been more patient in letting some of these players develop and establish themselves as integral parts of the first team instead of cashing in on them at the first opportunity, perhaps there would not be as big a problem with the average age of the squad.

    Chelsea have started to sign younger players again such as David Luiz, Ramires and Piazon, and it is imperative that the club do no repeat the same mistakes with them.

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