Chelsea have come a long way in Roman Abramovich’s nearly 10-year reign at Stamford Bridge.
They’ve won three Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 2 FA Community Shields, and last years’ Champion’s League title since the Russian billionaire bought the club for £140million in the summer of 2003.
He has spent a reported £2 billion over his nine seasons in charge - £642.5million on players, and a staggering £1.1billion on their wages alone as accounted in early 2011.
When added to the estimated £105.5M spent last season on Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, David Luiz and Gary Cahill, and their wages last season, plus the further £83M spent on Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Oscar, Victor Moses, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Lucas Piazon this summer – that takes us way past the £2billion mark.
The Chelsea team of 2002/03 finished in fourth place in the Premier League. They qualified for the following term’s Champion’s League but went out at the group stages, only to be knocked out of the first round in the UEFA Cup to Norwegian side Viking FK.
The champions of Europe, as they sit now, were unable to compete at continental level – despite their side’s consisting of Ed de Goey, Carlo Cudicini, Celestine Babayaro, Marcel Desailly, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Boudewijn Zenden, William Gallas, Graeme Le Saux, Mario Melchiot, Emmanuel Petit, Jody Morris, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Jesper Gronkjaer, Carlton Cole, and Gianfranco Zola.
The only remainders of that Chelsea side are the now 31-year-old John Terry, and 34-year-old Frank Lampard. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank had been the Blues’ most expensive player, bought in 2000 for a club record fee of £15M, just a shave off Fernando Torres’ £50M price tag last year.
Since then Terry and Lampard have seen eight managers take the reigns – Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas, and the current boss Roberto Di Matteo.
Big names like Andriy Shevchenko, Adrian Mutu, Hernan Crespo, Damien Duff, Scott Parker, Juan Sebastian Veron, Wayne Bridge, Geremi, Joe Cole, Aleksie Smertin, Glen Johnson, Claude Makelele, Michael Ballack, Deco, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Nicolas Anelka, and Didier Drogba have come and gone in that time along with countless others.
The Chelsea owner looks unlikely to tighten his purse strings any time soon but I suppose, when you have an estimated £15.6billion at your disposal, what’s another £2billion?
Has it been worth it? There have been a few missed steps along the way, Luiz Scolari for instance, and Andriy Shevchenko, and he may have been beginning to wonder, but after the club's historic first Champions League win in May, we are pretty sure he will agree it has been money well spent.