5 players sold by Chelsea who have starred for other clubs
Under the ruthless owner of Roman Abramovich, Chelsea have adopted a very interesting way of going about things in the transfer window, supplementing their academy with top-quality young talents from across the globe and then loaning them out to allow them to develop.
The logic is pretty clear though – if they perform well on their loan stints and the club’s youth coaches are happy with their development, then they get a chance to make the jump to the senior team, else they are just left to rot in the club’s infamous loan army, the strength of which was as much as 40 in the 2018-19 season.
Indeed, Chelsea have topped the list more often than not over the last decade when it comes to buying young players for a nominal amount and then loaning them out with the intention of either using them in their first-team in the future or making a huge profit from their sale once they develop into quality players capable of playing at the highest level.
That kind of policy has, however, landed the Blues into trouble, with the club currently under a transfer embargo after breaching the rules relating to the transfer of underage players.
Abramovich’s obsession for instant success has defined Chelsea’s recruitment policy over the years, not only in terms of players but also when it comes to managers.
The Russian billionaire seems to believe that only proven players and managers can bring success to the club and that has been apparent from the large amount of money Chelsea have splashed out over the past 15 years or so to effectively ‘buy’ success.
In the recent past, Chelsea have never hesitated to part ways with some bright young talents who found it difficult to make the cut into the senior side due to the lack of a clear pathway from the academy to the first-team.
The club’s mishandling of young talents has, indeed, come back to haunt them, with several of them now plying their trade with their Premier League rivals.
With that in mind, let us have a look at some of the prominent players who gave up their dream at Stamford Bridge to reach great heights elsewhere.
1. Mohamed Salah
Currently at Liverpool and regarded as one of the best forwards in Europe, Mo Salah is arguably the biggest talent to have slipped out of Chelsea’s hands.
Moreover, the fact that the Egyptian is firing on all cylinders for their Premier League rivals is only going to make it all the more difficult for the Blues fans to digest this.
Salah’s successful breakthrough in Europe at Swiss side Basel paved the way for a move to Chelsea in January 2014 and Jose Mourinho used him sporadically in the latter half of the 2013-14 campaign.
He was expected to receive more playtime in the following campaign but that wasn’t to be, as the Egyptian only featured thrice in the Premier League before being shipped out on loan to Fiorentina in January 2015.
Salah returned to Chelsea in the summer but he was deemed surplus to requirements and was subsequently shipped out to Roma on an 18-month loan deal, with Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado heading the other way to Stamford Bridge.
The Egyptian hit the ground running immediately in the Serie A and plundered 15 goals in the 2015-16 season before making his stay permanent the following summer.
Salah’s heroics at the Italian capital prompted Liverpool to offer him a second chance to impress in the Premier League and the Egyptian grabbed this opportunity with both hands, breaking the Premier League record for the most number of goals scored by a player in a single season, scoring 32. Glorifying his other achievements would only pique the Chelsea fans more.
2. Kevin de Bruyne
If Salah was the greatest talent to have slipped from Chelsea’s hands, then De Bruyne is certainly not far behind in that regard. Kevin de Bruyne arrived at Stamford Bridge as a playmaker with proven pedigree at Genk in Belgium but he hardly ever got a chance to prove his worth.
De Bruyne spent the 2012-13 season on loan at Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga and scored 10 goals before returning to Chelsea ahead of the 2013-14 campaign in order to compete for a place in the team. However, he ended up making a ridiculously low 3 Premier League appearances before being sold to Wolfsburg in January 2014.
The Belgian took the Bundesliga by storm as he had done in his previous stint at Bremen and won the 2014-15 Bundesliga Player of the Year award before returning to the Premier League with Man City in the summer of 2015 for a fee of £55million.
Currently regarded as one of the most influential playmakers in the world and a two-time Premier League winner with Man City, De Bruyne’s resounding success at the Eithad has transformed him into one of the European stalwarts.
3. Romelu Lukaku
Well, he might not be as big a loss to Chelsea as compared to the two players above him in the list, but the Blues would certainly have loved the towering Belgian centre-forward to be there in their ranks amidst the current No.9 crisis at the club.
Romelu Lukaku arrived at Stamford Bridge from Anderlecht as an exciting young striker with plenty of power and hunger for goals but he was never really given a fair crack of the whip at Chelsea, as the Belgian found it difficult to displace the likes of Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o for a spot in the team.
Lukaku failed to find the net in 15 appearances for the Blues but he showed the other teams that he is more than capable of being a successful Premier League striker, with a tally of 17 goals on his loan spell at West Brom in the 2012-13 season.
He thereafter joined Everton on loan for the 2013-14 campaign and after scoring 16 goals in that season, his stay at Goodison Park was made permanent.
Lukaku transformed himself into one of the most in-demand striking properties in the English top-flight during his stint at Merseyside, scoring 87 in 166 appearances before completing a £75million move to Man United in 2016.
Lukaku’s spell at Old Trafford hasn’t been as prolific as his previous stint at Everton but he has done enough to inject a sense of regret into the veins of the fans at Stamford Bridge.
4. Daniel Sturridge
Daniel Sturridge came through the door at Chelsea in 2009 from Premier League rivals Man City as one of the top emerging domestic striking talents but a lack of regular game time never really worked in favour of unlocking his vast potential.
The Birmingham-born striker featured sporadically for the Blues over the course of four seasons in West London and accumulated 24 goals in 96 appearances before departing for Liverpool in January 2013, becoming one of the most successful January transfers in the history of the Premier League.
Sturridge netted 11 goals in 16 appearances in the latter half of the 2012-13 season and followed it up with a personal-best tally of 24 in the 2013-14 campaign as Brendan Rodgers’ side came ever so close to getting their hands on the Premier League crown.
The England international didn’t reach the same heights in the following campaigns at Anfield and slipped down the pecking order following the arrival of Jurgen Klopp as the new manager. However, he stayed put at Liverpool until the end of the 2018-19 season, winning the UEFA Champions League in the process.
Sturridge racked up 67 goals for the Reds in 160 appearances in all competitions and his incredible long-range goal against Chelsea in the Premier League last season is bound to have reminded the fans what they had missed out on.
5. Juan Mata
Having arrived from Valencia in 2011, Mata won the UEFA Champions League in his first season at Stamford Bridge and the UEFA Europa League in his second season, whilst also bagging back-to-back Player of the Year awards at Chelsea.
However, the Spanish playmaker’s successful spell at Stamford Bridge was cut short when Chelsea accepted a hefty offer from Man United in January 2014, a stance which was quite inexplicable because he was one of the club’s most influential players at that time.
Nevertheless, Mata has continued to weave his magic at Old Trafford, reuniting with his former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in 2016 and winning the Europa League for the second time in his career.
Still only 31 and preparing for his seventh season at Old Trafford, Mata has already accumulated 45 goals in 218 appearances for the Red Devils and he certainly looks good for a lot more.
Mata’s success at United is a reminder to Chelsea that selling your most valuable players at a time when they are about to enter their prime years is not a great idea.
That brings us to the end of this list but in all honesty, there are plenty of other players sold by Chelsea who are currently starring for other clubs, including Nemanja Matic, Filipe Luis, Diego Costa, Patrick van Aanholt and Oriol Romeu, not to mention Petr Cech, who just hung up his boots this summer.