Here we take a look at Chelsea’s top 10 worst transfers of all time.
After Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2003, Chelsea began
dominating the transfer market in English football.
At first, the Blues spent huge sums of money on building a
squad that could rival Manchester United and other clubs in
Then, once their dominance was beyond doubt, Chelsea
pivoted towards a more sustainable method of buying and
selling young players.
As such, a number of expensive players have come and gone
at the London club and on some occasions they haven’t been
happy spells at all.
Here at FootballTransfers , we’re going to take a look at the 10
worst Chelsea signings of the Abramovich era.
Romelu Lukaku – £99.5m from Inter Milan
Romelu Lukaku declared he had ‘unfinished business’ when he
returned to Chelsea from Inter Milan in 2021 for a club-record
fee of nearly £100m.
However, the Belgian forward’s second stint at Stamford
Bridge was a disaster, compounded by an explosive interview
just a few months into his return where he criticised manager
Thomas Tuchel’s tactics.
After scoring just eight goals in the league, Lukaku returned on
loan to Inter for €8m and will go down as one of the worst
signings in, not just the club’s history, but across all time.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – £72m from Athletic
Due to their policy of only fielding players from the Basque
region, it’s extremely expensive to pry players away from
Athletic Bilbao, as Chelsea found out with Kepa.
A world-record fee for a goalkeeper was agreed as the club
needed a replacement for the Real Madrid-bound Thibaut
Courtois , but it’s not gone to plan.
Under Maurizio Sarri, Kepa was average at best; he wasn’t
awful, he looked promising, but certainly not world class. The
2019/20 season, however, was another story.
He had the lowest save percentage of goalkeepers in the
league, conceding 47 Premier League goals whilst making just
1.7 saves per 90, the least of any ‘keeper with more than one
appearance in the league.
He was then replaced by Edouard Mendy as first choice as
Chelsea gave up on the Spaniard.
Tiemoue Bakayoko – £40m from Monaco
Part of that famous AS Monaco squad that won the Ligue 1
title in 2016/17, Tiemoue Bakayoko arrived in London with
He was a powerful destroyer, and appeared the perfect
replacement for the Man Utd-bound Nemanja Matic .
He started well, with a performance against Tottenham
particularly strong, but he went off the boil, and a 30-minute
red card in a humiliating defeat to Watford saw his career at
Chelsea fall off a cliff.
He did make 24 Premier League starts in 17/18, but was clear
that he didn’t fit Sarri’s system, and he was shoved to the side
to accommodate Jorginho .
He was then loaned out to AC Milan, back to Monaco, then to
Napoli and then back to Milan again as his Chelsea career all
Michy Batshuayi – £33m from Marseille
Michy Batshuayi was seen as Chelsea’s next clinical number
nine after impressing for Marseille in Ligue 1, but he turned out
to be yet another failing forward for Chelsea.
Just as with many of Chelsea’s poor striker signings, a few of
which will be mentioned later, he failed to produce on the
Premier League stage, and while he scored the title-winning
goal against West Brom in 2016/17, Batshuayi did not hit
those heights again.
He spent the 2020/21 season on loan at Crystal Palace and
then was sent out to Besiktas in 2021/22. He was finally sold
to Fenerbahce in 2022 having scored only eight Premier
League goals for Chelsea.
Danny Drinkwater – £35m from Leicester
In one of the more bizarre moves from this list, Danny
Drinkwater was signed in 2017, when he wasn’t really that
Of course he played a vital role in Leicester’s title win, but
N’Golo Kante did most the defensive work, leaving Drinkwater
with not much else to do. He did the basics well, but he
wasn’t Chelsea quality, and so it proved.
With just 23 appearances for the senior team overall, and one
in the Football League trophy this season, Drinkwater never
broke into the team.
He went on loan to both Burnley and Aston Villa, but couldn’t
amass over 500 minutes for both combined. He then moved
on loan to Kasimpasa before another loan at Reading. He was
released in 2022 when his contract ran out.
Alvaro Morata – £58m from Real Madrid
Alvaro Morata was never a consistent regular at Real Madrid,
but the form he displayed on loan at Juventus, and during his
fleeting appearances for Los Blancos, suggested that he was a
talismanic figure with expert instincts in the box.
That forced Abramovich’s hand, even though Antonio Conte
publicly stated he wanted Romelu Lukaku, and Morata was
signed. It started so well for the club-record signing (at the
time), he netted once and grabbed an assist, as well as
scoring a disallowed goal, as he almost inspired a comeback
off the bench against Burnley on his Premier League debut.
He scored 15 goals and assisted six in 30 starts in all
competitions in his first season, but poor finishing in his
second year, and just five Premier League goals in 2018/19,
saw him loaned to Atletico Madrid for £16m, before they
signed him for just over £30m permanently.
He may have recouped most of his transfer fee, but Morata’s
time at Chelsea was not a pleasant one.
Adrian Mutu – £15.2m from Parma
The alternative to Shevchenko in 2004, Adrian Mutu netted
four goals in his first three games for Chelsea, and it looked as
though Abramovich had found an absolute gem.
It wasn’t to be however, the striker only scored a further six
goals and was then banned from football for seven months for
The club then sacked Mutu before starting a legal battle
against him. The case ended up at the Court of Arbitration for
Sport, and in 2009 Mutu was ordered to pay damages to the
After appealing this, it was ruled in 2018 that Mutu owed
Chelsea £15.2m in compensation.
It was a mess of a transfer, and one that the club will want to
Andriy Shevchenko – £30.8m from AC Milan
Yet another ‘flop’ in the number nine position for Chelsea.
Andriy Shevchenko was a long-time target for Abramovich and
when he eventually landed him in 2006, the Ukranian was 29
and past his peak.
He scored on his debut in the Community Shield against
Liverpool, but failed to kick on, losing out to Drogba in the
battle for the first choice slot up front, and altogether proving
a waste of money.
With 23 goals in 77 games, Shevchenko still managed to net
on a fairly regular basis, but it wasn’t what was expected of
him, and ultimately, Drogba was preferred.
He was loaned back to Milan two years later, before leaving
permanently to Dynamo Kyiv for free in 2009; the move to
Chelsea didn’t work out.
Fernando Torres – £50m from Liverpool
Fernando Torres was a roaring success at Liverpool, with 69
Premier League goals in his three-and-a-half seasons there,
but he never hit the same heights at Chelsea. A warning sign
should’ve come with his injury issues, and the fact that whilst
he netted 18 league goals in just 1,717 minutes in 2009/10,
Torres was on the decline in 2010/11.
Chelsea still forked out an English record fee at the time to
acquire his services, and although he netted that famous goal
at the Camp Nou, he ultimately didn’t live up to expectations.
It took him nearly 1,000 minutes to net his first Chelsea goal,
and whilst 45 goals and 35 assists in 175 appearances isn’t
awful (a goal contribution roughly every 2.2 games), he simply
wasn’t as good as the club had hoped he would be.
Juan Sebastian Veron – £15m from
We end with a move away from strikers, and Juan Sebastian
Veron is next on the list; the Argentine certainly didn’t live up
to his name or his fee.
Having failed to fit in at Man Utd, whilst showing his obvious
class, Veron simply failed to produce at Chelsea. He managed
to play just 14 games in the league, scoring once and grabbing
He didn’t fit into the system, and after a loan spell at Inter
Milan, he was sold to Estudiantes for a mere £2m in 2006; he
never displayed his true talent at the Bridge.
Mateja Kezman is often spoken as a Chelsea flop, but as he
only cost £5m, he hasn’t been included in this list, although
he, Juan Cuadrado and Davide Zappacosta are special