For all Jose Mourinho’s self-proclaimed specialness, it has to be said he is not afraid to splash the cash when he wants a player. And though there have been some highly profligate and questionable signings (£21m for Shaun Wright-Phillips for one), he has also picked out some absolute crackers. Here, in no particular order, are the five we think were the best of the bunch:
Ashley Cole – £5m from Arsenal
A slightly controversial transfer (at least from the point of view of Arsenal fans) as Ashley Cole made the trip across London to sign for the Blues after the Gunners offered him what he thought was a derisory wage package that would be worth around £55k a week. Roman Ambramovich’s pockets were deeper, and Chelsea more than doubled his wages, and Blues fans were glad they were.
Costing just £5m (and a then out-of-sorts William Gallas), Cole proved his worth as not only a dependable defender, but one of the best full backs of his generation. He has earned over 100 England caps and made more than 220 appearances for the Blues. A great piece of business for one of the world’s best defenders.
Didier Drogba – £24m from Marseille
Perhaps the best of Mourinho’s signings, Drogba was unheard of to the average football fan when he emerged onto the Premier League scene as the most expensive Ivorian player in history.
People soon learned his name as the powerful striker battled for everything and won almost all of it. With a penchant for scoring goals when it really, really mattered (he’s the only player to score in four FA Cup finals), the burly front man scored 100 goals for the blues in just 226 appearances. Most Blues fans feel his scoring ability, power and pace has never been replaced. Their feelings are spot on.
André Schürrle – £18m from Bayer Leverkusen
One of the signings from Mourinho’s current tenure (we didn’t feel the need to include Willian’s £30m move!), André Schürrle has all the attributes to make him a Chelsea great. He can tackle, shoot with power and accuracy, set up play, has great vision and doesn’t shy away from the rough and tumble of the Premier League.
While some would argue it is too early to include the former Leverkusen man, we think they will change their tune in the coming months, especially if he plays a starring role for Germany in the World Cup in Brazil.
Michael Essien – £24.4m from Lyon
Essien has been one of Mourinho’s favourites for years, the Portuguese boss having signed him back in 2005 then taking him on loan to Real Madrid in the 2012-13 season. He was voted Chelsea fans’ Player of the Year after the 2006-07 season when he was the driving force (alongside Frank Lampard) of the midfield.
A dynamic and powerful midfielder with an eye for goal and a tackle to fear, Mourinho no doubt wishes Essien was a few years younger so he could get the best out of him during the manager’s second spell at the Bridge.
Ricardo Carvalho – £19.85m from Porto
Ricardo Carvalho’s rise went in tandem with that of Jose Mourinho, who was his boss at Porto when they won back to back Portuguese titles and the Champions League. Carvalho was voted the best defender in Europe’s premier competition that season, and Mourinho wasted no time in bringing him with him to Chelsea in 2004.
Carvalho proved himself to be a cultured defender who became the perfect foil for John Terry, adding an assured air to the back four. He went on to make 135 appearances for the Blues between 2004 and 2010, when he was again signed by Mourinho who had then moved to Real Madrid. Carvalho remains one of the best Chelsea defenders in the Premier League era.