Roman Abramovich has left behind a transfer contingency plan for Chelsea’s next owners following the Russian billionaire’s decision to sell the club.
The 55-year-old, who is selling the west London side after 19 years of unprecedented success, collecting 18 major trophies during his tenure competing for the full set.
Abramovich’s passion for crowning Chelsea the world’s best in every department reshaped English football, and his devotion for the club shone through with heavy, heartfelt investment in Cobham and the wider community.
They are particularly poignant and mark different chapters throughout his tenure at Stamford Bridge, each telling a story of their own.
Whether it be Adrian Mutu or Didier Drogba, now that Abramovich has said goodbye, we took a trip down memory lane looking at his top five signings…
Eden Hazard, Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, N’Golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta
While my head was telling me to give Drogba the gold medal, my heart pulled me towards Hazard, and I’m sure you can understand why
Under Abramovich’s tenure, the Belgian Prince of Stamford Bridge was the most momentous signing of all – he led Chelsea to places the club could have never been without him.
His place at the top of the podium isn’t undisputed, and I think Drogba and Cech Champions League trophy compliments their legacies, making for a great debate.
Kante and Azpilicueta are right up there, too, and maybe the former should creep into the top three – maybe I’m too conscious of recency bias? They are two of the Premier League’s all-time greats.
Didier Drogba, Eden Hazard, Petr Cech, N’Golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta – Ashley Cole & Cesc Fabregas honourable mentions
Is it a top-five without Drogba? I think my decision to give him that top spot speaks for itself. There is no other moment in Chelsea’s history that can replicate the Ivorian Kings’ bullet header in the 2012 Champions League final. That man gave Chelsea everything and more. In the big moments, he always produced a masterclass without question. Not many people can say that about a single player in their teams’ history.
Hazard was a close second. As a player who made me fall in love with the art of football from a Premier League perspective, he has been by far my favourite signing of the last decade.
Since his arrival, he has proven just how difficult it is to play with such elegance and skill in the world’s toughest league. He would always come out on top, even in comparison to every shiny new talent to grace other rival clubs such as Alexis Sanchez and Raheem Sterling.
Cech and Kante are two players you may never find over a long period. They are generational talents that Roman Abramovich’s team sought out to perfection. Azpilicueta takes that final slot for longevity. He has been at the top of his game for such a long time, and that should never go unpraised
Major shout out to Ashley Cole and Cesc Fabregas. Made in Arsenal, but successful in Chelsea.
Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, Eden Hazard, Ashley Cole and Diego Costa
This is an excruciating list to make, particularly knowing how many extraordinary players I am leaving out here. My list is purely based on personal affection for players and their huge influence over some of our biggest titles.
Didier and Petr simply have to be top two given their involvement in Munich but also the unmatched 2004/05 title-winning squad under Jose Mourinho. Along with John Terry and Frank Lampard, they helped define an era of glory for Chelsea.
Hazard was simply astonishing, a pure magician who made the sport look easy and defined an era of his own, post-Munich between 2012-2019. Ashley Cole was the greatest left-back we’ve ever seen, and his dominance in one position is unrivalled. It also started a trend of players swapping the failures in north London to glory in the west.
And I’m contractually obliged to put Diego in this list for the pure joy his years wearing the Blue of Chelsea gave to me. One of those players that comes along you just instantly connect with and provides such inspirational energy to leave a lasting mark, despite only being at Stamford Bridge for three years.
Didier Drogba, Eden Hazard, Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Cesar Azpiliceta
I think by this point, you know the top three by now. Number one has to be Drogba for me, Hazard is an obvious close second, but all the big cup final goals and that night in Munich just edge it for me. Drogba also returned to help be a backup for Diego Costa in a title-winning side that made the fairy tale keep going. I love him even more cause I had to accept the heartbreak of him going, then the return just made it beautiful.
Cech was around for it all and back helping the club win the second Champions League trophy as a Technical And Performance Advisor and looks to be that middle man from board to Tuchel that the club desperately needed.
To sign the best left-back in the world from your rivals and pass on a player that ended up the captain then leaving them to join Tottenham felt like we won yet again. His post-match interview in Munich saying, “I have a star on my shirt”, was the icing on the cake.
Azpilicueta has to make it into my list. He will have been at the club for ten years in the summer and here over half of Roman’s time at Chelsea. Azpilicueta has played a number of different roles, from left-back and keeping Ashley Cole out of the side or right of a back three but doing it all with professionalism. A role model for the Cobham graduates and young aspiring footballers. Captaining the side to the second Champions League win and winning it all when you think he only cost the club around £7m. From unknown player to club captain.
My last pick could have raised eyebrows because I was close to picking Ricardo Carvalho. The partnership John Terry and he had in defence was sublime. No one will beat that record in the 2004/05 season of fewest goals conceded in a season (15).
My honourable mentions as this picking five is much harder than it looks. Michael Essien, Claude Makelele, John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata. All did great things here, and all left me loving them unconditionally when they left. I’ve listed off ten players and I still feel like I could add many more.
Thank you for everything you have done for this club Roman.
Use the comments section below to let us know your top five.