Rated! Chelsea's 10 most expensive signings of the Roman Abramovich era

(Image credit: Getty)

Chelsea have spent huge sums of money during the 19-year reign of Roman Abramovich. After arriving at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2003, the Russian billionaire started throwing money at footballers like there was no tomorrow... and that spending spree never stopped. 

Yet it's fair to say that a lot of that money was spent rather poorly. Here, we review Chelsea's 10 most expensive signings of the Abramovich era. Marks out of 10 for each...

10. Mateo Kovacic - £40m (Real Madrid, 2019)

The Croatian got off to a slow start at Stamford Bridge, with fans initially unimpressed with his overly cautious ball progression. Yet Kovacic has slowly become the beating heart of the team under successive managers, providing muscle and dynamism alongside Jorginho and N'Golo Kante in Chelsea's midfield. The 27-year-old was key to the Blues' Champions League conquering team last season and continues to be a mandatory pick. 

Marks out of 10: 8

9. Ben Chilwell - £45m (Leicester, 2020)

After a solid debut campaign, in which the Englishman helped Chelsea win the Champions League, form and fitness have eluded Chilwell this term. After sitting out of Chelsea's fixtures in the early part of the season – while suffering with the disappointment of a Euro 2020 campaign in which the player didn't feature at all – he returned to the side only to rupture a cruciate ligament. He is out until the end of the season, at least. 

Marks out of 10: 6

8. Timo Werner - £47.5m (RB Leipzig, 2020)

Timo Werner

(Image credit: PA)

The German was expected to hit the ground running at Chelsea, after scoring 95 goals in 159 RB Leipzig appearances, but has struggled for goals in England. Werner remains a diligent presser and his pace is a weapon on the break, but fans had expected more. 

Marks out of 10: 6

7. Jorginho - £50m (Napoli, 2018)

Brought in by Maurizio Sarri to dictate play in midfield, Jorginho was initially criticised for his cautious build-up play, while his presence also meant N'Golo Kante had to be moved out of his best position. Yet, like Kovacic, Jorginho soon won fans around with his excellent ball retention, leadership and coolness from 12 yards. A star performer in Chelsea's success under Thomas Tuchel over the past year. 

Marks out of 10: 9

6. Fernando Torres - £50m (Liverpool, 2011)

Chelsea fans mocked Liverpool after taking the jewel in their crown in January 2011. Yet Liverpool fans had the last laugh, as Torres struggled for form, fitness and goals at Stamford Bridge. Forty-five strikes in 172 Blues appearances was a paltry return for the World Cup winner... even if one of those was key in Chelsea's 2012 Champions League triumph. That buys him an extra point. 

Marks out of 10: 4

5. Christian Pulisic - £57m (Borussia Dortmund, 2019)

USA captain Pulisic remains a work in progress at Stamford Bridge – a player who can dazzle one week and then struggle the next. Fitness issues have repeatedly stalled his development, but the former Borussia Dortmund winger can be unplayable on his day and could yet become a Chelsea legend. 

Marks out of 10: 6

4. Alvaro Morata - £60m (Real Madrid, 2017)


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After an excellent start to life in the Premier League, Morata quickly came unstuck. The former Real Madrid prodigy lost form, fitness and his knack for sticking the ball in the net and was swiftly sold on at a heavy loss. Nowhere near a £60m player. 

Marks out of 10: 3

3. Kepa Arrizabalaga - £71m (Athletic Bilbao, 2018)

The world's most expensive goalkeeper at the time of his arrival, Kepa quickly became an expensive mistake. During his first season at Stamford Bridge, the Spaniard boasted one of the worst shot-to-save ratios in the Premier League and never looked entirely comfortable in the rough and tumble of English football... and the less said about that whole substitution episode the better. Now replaced by Edouard Mendy, Kepa's most recent contribution was skying the crucial penalty in the League Cup final defeat to Liverpool. 

Marks out of 10: 2

2. Kai Havertz - £72m (Bayer Leverkusen, 2020)

Kai Havertz Chelsea

(Image credit: PA)

The German is tricky one to judge in that his best position remains a bit of a mystery. Is he a No.10? Is he a striker? Is he a wide forward? The truth is somewhere in between. Consistency is also an issue with the former Leverkusen man; he can be sensational one week and then drift out of form the next. 

Yet there is clearly a gem of player in there. Few can rival the 22-year-old for balance, composure and intelligent movement. Plus, there's also that goal. You know, the one which won Chelsea the Champions League. That bumps him up an extra point.

Marks out of 10: 8

1. Romelu Lukaku - £97.7m (Inter, 2021)

Romelu Lukaku

(Image credit: Getty)

A sensational start to his second spell at Stamford Bridge has quickly given way to question marks. There have been grumblings about tactics, talk of Chelsea's striker curse from the man himself and public apologies to the manager. Crucially, also, the goals have dried up. Lukaku has just five in the league this season, as Coronavirus and an ankle sprain has hindered his playing time. 

Unplayable on his day... but, at almost £100m, you'd expect that day to come more often. 

Marks out of 10: 4

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Ed McCambridge
Staff Writer

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.