It is rarely often that the most expensive player in a playing position is relegated to the bench. But at Chelsea, Kepa Arrizabalaga, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, is not 1st choice nor second choice but third choice.
Kepa has been dubbed the worst signing in premier league history, but he might not even be the worst in Chelsea history. In fact, since Roman Abrahamovic bought the club in 2003, Chelsea have arguably signed worse players than the Spaniard.
Here are, in no particular order, seven worse purchases than Kepa by the blues in the Roman era.
I. Juan Sebastián Verón
£15M was a lot of money for a player, talk less a defender in 2003, and when Veron scored an header on his debut against Liverpool on his debut, Chelsea might have thought it a money well spent.
But that was only a false hope, and over the course of 4 years, Veron made just 7 appearances for Chelsea. What makes it even worse is that he was one of the first signing of Abrahamovic.
II. Shaun Wright-Phillips
Signing a marquee British player is the holy grail of every EPL club (look at Man Utd’s pursuit of Sancho And signing of Maguire), so when Chelsea signed Shaun for a whooping £21M they had envisaged staggering heights for the ex-man city player.
All expectations were dashed to pieces when Phillips accrued 39 appearances in his first season but failed to score a single goal.
His first goal eventually came over 16 months after his transfer in his 52nd match against minnows Levski Sofia. After 65 starts and 60 sub apps (125 games) along with 10 goals, Phillips was rescued from his nightmare and secured a return to Manchester City.
III. Adrian Mutu
Based on footballing and on-pitch returns, Mutu was far from a flop, but his stay at Chelsea is most famous (or rather infamous) for his off-the-field antics.
One year after his signing, Mutu was banned from football for 7 months until May 2005 after testing positive for cocaine use. It could have been worse for Chelsea, but their lawyers engaged in a legal battle with the player and in the end won.
3 years after the ban, Mutu was ordered to pay over £17M to Chelsea. Although the legal battle dragged for over 7 years, the court’s decision stood. Chelsea managed to recoup both the transfer fee and signing-on fee from this compensation.
IV. Mateja Kezman
Kezman arrived at Chelsea on the back of 105 goals in 122 league games for Dutch giants, PSV. He had won numerous awards, including Dutch Footballer of the Year in 2003. He was tipped to be one of the greatest strikers of his generation.
He arrived at Chelsea at the prime age of 25 but his first ever league goal came in the 5th month of the season, a penalty in a 4 – 0 win. He scored 3 more goals against two relegated teams, ending the season on 4 league goals.
Chelsea didn’t give him a second chance and he was shipped to Atletico Madrid the next season.
V. Marko Marin
If you played PES in its golden years of 2012-2014, you’ve probably utilised Marin with his pace and dribbling skills.
But in real life, those such attributes never surfaced for Marin during his time at Chelsea. Marin managed just 6 games in his first season and spent the remaining four years of his Chelsea career on loan at 4 different clubs. He eventually left on a free.
V. Juan Cuadrado
Cuadrado was signed from Fiorentina for £30M with guess-who going the other way? Mo Salah. He never scored any goal for the club and left for Juventus on loan 7 months later.
The fact that this deal was what facilitated Salah’s departure makes this a very competitive contender for the worst Chelsea signing.
VI. Danny Drinkwater
Drinkwater arrived at Chelsea a EPL winner and as ex-midfield partner of player of the year, Ngolo Kante. He did manage 22 apps in all competitions, but since then he has made just one appearance in 2 seasons.
It got so dire that he was not allocated a squad number for the 2020–21 season.
VII. Tiémoué Bakayoko
Bakayoko was signed for £40M, the second most expensive transfer for Chelsea at that time. He got consistent game time but repaid with consistent poor outings.
He was found culpable in some of Chelsea’s heavy defeat including being sent off in just half an hour in a 4-1 loss to Watford and culminating in a disastrous showing in a 3-0 loss to Newcastle on the last day of the season.