This pre-season has brought about many issues for Chelsea fans. Are we scoring enough? Are we going to be ready for the new season? Why aren’t we buying big names? What’s wrong with Torres? Will he ever get back on his world-beating form again?
Which made me think, what about our other record signings? Andriy Shevchenko didn’t live up to his price, and neither did Chris Sutton, if memory serves.
The first £100 signing for Chelsea was Bob McRoberts. Signed from Small Heath (Now Birmingham City), the centre forward was played in defence, so in 106 games 11 goals isn’t too bad. John Tait Robertson called McRoberts ‘a splendid shot’.
The next player I decided to take a look at was the first player to be brought in for over a grand, that man being Jack Cock, from Huddersfield Town in a £2,500 deal in 1919, and for a striker, 53 goals in 111 games isn’t a bad return.
Chelsea’s first £10,000 player, Hughie Gallacher, was signed in 1930, spending four seasons at the club. Another player that lived up to his price tag, even with trouble on and off the pitch, for each of his four seasons at the club he was the top scorer with 81 goals in 144 appearances. He left Chelsea in 1934 for £2,750.
In October 1966 Tommy Docherty spent £100,000 on Tony Gately from Aston Villa, who had banged in 68 goals in 127 games for the Villans. Maybe a panic buy to cover the injured Peter Osgood, but he didn’t live up to his price, scoring only nine times in 33 games. However, there wasn’t too much of a loss on it as he was sold to Liverpool less than a year later for £97,000.
Tony Dorigo, in 1987 became a record transfer for Chelsea, with £475,000 being spent on him. As a defender he maybe didn’t get off to the best of starts as he was part of the team that were relegated to the Second Division in his first season with the club. However, he won player of the season that season too, and the following season, Chelsea were back in the First Division. He went on to make a total of 180 appearances, scoring 12 goals in the process before being sold to Leeds United for £1.3million.
Dave Beasant, in 1989 became Chelsea’s record signing, spending £725,000 on the ‘keeper from Wimbledon. Making 41 clean sheets in 157 games, helping Chelsea winning the Zenith Data Systems Cup in 1990. Though he made a few mistakes during his time, including dropping salad cream onto his foot, Beasant was sold to Southampton for £300,000 in 1993.
Another former Wimbledon player was the next player to become Chelsea’s record signing in 1990, Dennis Wise. Costing Chelsea £1.6m, the troublemaker ended up spending 11 happy years with the club, making 445 appearances, lifting four trophies and scoring 76 goals, amongst them this –
Legend. A fan favourite throughout his time, and seen as one of the most influential players in the dressing room. Definitely value for money. In 2001 he was sold to Leicester City for £1.6m.
In May 1994, Chelsea paid £2.3m for striker Paul Furlong, who came in from Watford. In his first season he was part of the team that reached the Semi-Finals of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1994/’95 season. However, his goalscoring wasn’t all that prolific, as he only managed 17 goals in 85 appearances for the club. He was sold to Birmingham City in 1996 for £1.5m.
Just before Furlong was sold, Chelsea made another record signing, bringing in Frank Lebeouf for £2.5m from Strasbourg. A rock at the back for Chelsea, and had an incredibly successful five years with the club, winning the FA Cup twice, League Cup once, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup once, the UEFA super Cup once, and the Community Shield once as well. Outstanding at the back, the Frenchman had a bit of a finish on him as well, scoring 24 times in 204 appearances. In 2001 he left for Marseille in a £1.2m deal.
Roberto Di Matteo came to Chelsea in July 1996 for £4.9m from Lazio, then making him Chelsea’s record signing. Scoring on his home debut against Middlesborough, he went on to score nine goals in his first season, none more important than his effort against ‘Boro in the 1997 FA Cup Final after just 43 seconds, helping Chelsea onto a 2-0 win. When he scored against Aston Villa in the last FA Cup Final at the Old Wembley, he was, at the time, the second player to score in three different finals. Scoring 26 goals in 175 appearances, the creative midfielder’s career was cut short by injury after a triple leg fracture in a UEFA Cup game. Di Matteo is now back at the club, assisting manager André Villas-Boas.
In 1998, Chelsea paid Lazio £5.4m for the services of Pierluigi Casiraghi. In his two years with the club, the striker only scored one goal in 15 games, coming against Liverpool, giving Phil Babb the ‘nutcracker’:
Chelsea then, in 1999, decided to break the £10m barrier for Chris Sutton from Blackburn Rovers. Didn’t have the greatest of spells at Chelsea, scoring just one league goal in 28 appearances – At home to Manchester United in the 5-0 drubbing of them. After just one season he left for Celtic in a £6m deal.
A year later, for £15m, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink arrived from Atlético Madrid. A very impressive start to his Chelsea career with a goal against Manchester United on his debut led to many more as he ended up with 26 goals in his first season, followed by 29 in his second, top scorer on both occasions. In his third season he didn’t manage as many goals, but in his final season, he was top scorer again. A very successful signing, and with a return of 87 goals from 177 games isn’t a bad rate, and he was able to live up to his price tag. He left Chelsea for Middlesborough on a free transfer in 2004.
The next player to come in for a record signing was the first record signing since Roman Abramovich took over at Chelsea, and it was Damien Duff, who came from Blackburn Rovers for £17m in 2003. One of my favourite players to wear the blue of Chelsea, he was able play on both wings and was vital in all three of the seasons that he was here, making assists, and scoring 19 goals in 125 appearances. He was sold to Newcastle United for £5m in 2006.
One of Chelsea’s best strikers of all time, Didier Drogba, in 2004, became Chelsea’s most expensive signing, coming across the channel from Marseille for £24m. He scored 16 goals in his first season as Chelsea went on to be Premier League Champions for the first time, putting himself in Chelsea history. In his second season he scored 16 again, becoming a Premier League winner for the second time. Since then he’s been top scorer in the Premier League in 2006/’07 and in the double winning 2009/’10 season. A current Chelsea star, and definitely a name that supporters will talk about in the future.
The Bison, Michael Essien was the next player to be a record signing for Chelsea, spending £24.4m on the midfielder from Lyon in 2005. He made 39 appearances in his first season as Chelsea went onto win the Premier League for the second time in two seasons. A rock in midfield, Essien occasionally gets forward and hits an absolute screamer, as he did against Arsenal and Barcelona. Recently injury has kept Essien on the sidelines, but when on form, he is definitely value for money.
The summer afterwards, Andriy Shevchenko eclipsed Essien’s transfer fee, coming from AC Milan for £30m. 72 appearances and only 22 goals later, it was deemed that Shevchenko wasn’t up to scratch, and left the club for a loan spell back at AC Milan. After a season in Milan, Shevchenko left Chelsea’s books for Dynamo Kiev after an unsuccessful spell.
So what to expect from Fernando Torres? He’s a quality player no doubt, there have been slight glimpses of it, and his goal against Aston Villa is an example. However, his confidence is still not quite there, but by the end of this season I think we will have seen the Fernando Torres that every Chelsea fan hoped they see.
by Callum Maclean