Chelsea have made some great buys since Abramovich took over, and some bad ones too, but what about the unluckiest?
There have been many signings since the rich Russian bought Chelsea. Not every signing has worked out it is fair to say for one reason or another, however, there are a few who have had exceptional talent but lady luck has not been on their side.
In reverse order, here are our top three.
3. Shaun Wright-Phillips
In the summer of 2005 Chelsea signed Wright-Phillips from Manchester City in a deal worth around 21 million pounds.
There were high expectations for the then 24-year-old who was a bright young talent, however he never managed to get going despite showing some good runs of form. Nothing seemed to go right for poor Shaun and fell out with Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2008, returning to Manchester City for about 9 million pounds.
He is now playing for QPR and recently scored the winner in their 1-0 win against Chelsea in the beginning of the year.
2. Yuri Zhirkov
The “Russian Ronaldinho” was the first signing of Carlo Ancelotti’s reign at Chelsea FC. In my opinion one of the most technically gifted players around, he was signed for 18 million pounds in the summer of 2009 from CSKA Moscow, Zhirkov is the most expensive Russian footballer of all time.
His Chelsea career got off to a horrible start, injuring himself within days and didn’t make his debut for Chelsea until the league cup clash with QPR in September, more injuries followed and didn’t appear in the Premier League until December against West Ham.
Yuri started getting some game time and was at fleetingly a vital creator from the left hand side. Injury struck Ashley Cole and this was his chance to shine – which he did, impressing at left-back and proving pivotal in Chelsea's Double Winning season.
In his second season Zhirkov started brightly, scoring a cracker against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League. Injury struck again just as he was getting comfortable and barely featured again all season as a result of constant injury. In 2011, Yuri finally had enough of his injury in England – coupled with the inability for his wife to obtain a visa – and returned to Russia where he now plays for mega-spending Anzhi.
Unfortunately for Yuri he is struggling to cement a place in the line-up at Anzhi due to persistent injuries once again.
1. Slobodan Rajkovic
Undoubtedly one of the unluckiest players during his Chelsea career. Rajkovic was signed at the age of 16 for 3.8 million pounds, which was a world record for the highest transfer fee for a player under the age of 18.
A well built and highly talented centre-back, he was loaned to PSV for the 07-08 season as a makeweight in the deal to bring Alex to Chelsea and a way for him to gain experience, this wasn’t beneficial as Slobodan rarely featured and went on various other loans as he still hadn’t gained a work permit.
The saga really hurt the talented young defender and by the time he was finally allowed to play for Chelsea in 2011 under AVB, it seemed Chelsea had given up hope on him and was sold to Hamburg in the Bundesliga where he is struggling for game time (no thanks to some injuries). A really unlucky bloke as he had much potential but the work permit situation which meant his Chelsea career never got started.
Who in your opinion is the unluckiest? Should Juan Veron be on the list?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald