5 players who you didn’t know played for Chelsea

Stamford Bridge has seen an array of players in recent years
Stamford Bridge has seen an array of players in recent years

Chelsea is one club that has been synonymous with success, more so since 2003 – a year which marked Roman Abramovich’s £140 million takeover of the London outfit. A string of trophies (and managers) followed, with the club having won 16 major titles since the Russian’s takeover. That made them the second-most successful English team in the decade – a record only bettered by Manchester United, who won 17 titles in the same timeframe.

Abramovich’s investment has also led to Chelsea becoming the sixth-most valuable club in the world, and the eighth highest-earning one – which is a phenomenal achievement considering the time span. With great financial power comes the best players. Chelsea have broken the transfer record on numerous occasions for Andriy Shevchenko (£30.8 million), Fernando Torres (£50 million), Kai Havertz (£62 million) and Kepa Arrizabalaga (£71 million) – who is currently their most expensive player.

The London club have heavily invested in youth too, with Chelsea’s academy being one of the most successful in world football. The young Blues have won the FA Youth Cup five consecutive times between 2014 and 2018 as well as two UEFA Youth League titles – making them the competition’s most successful team along with Barcelona.

Chelsea’s plan of investing in talented youngsters, loaning them out (mostly to feeder club Vitesse Arnhem, who have had an astonishing 28 Chelsea stars on their books) and later selling them for a profit is a strategy which has proved to be quite successful. This has resulted in scores of youngsters who have made scant appearances for the first team, or in some cases none at all, making a name for themselves elsewhere.

Chances are you might not even know that some of them once represented the Blues. Who are these players? You’re about to find out via this list of 5 players who you didn’t know played for Chelsea.

#5 Fabio Borini

Chelsea v Portsmouth - Premier League
Chelsea v Portsmouth - Premier League

Liverpool fans may not have too many fond memories of Fabio Borini, who holds the distinction of being Brendan Rodgers’ first signing as Reds boss. The Italian was a young hotshot at Chelsea, whose talents Rodgers was well aware of during his time in charge of the Chelsea academy.

Borini quickly established himself with Chelsea’s youth sides and soon became their top scorer with 10 goals in 11 appearances, and in one instance scored all 5 goals in a reserves match against West Brom. However, after just 4 appearances for Chelsea, Borini was shipped out on loan to Championship side Swansea, then managed by Rodgers, where the Italian once again excelled. He scored 6 goals in 12 appearances – which helped Swansea progress to the Premier League.

Those 4 appearances with the Blues would turn out to be Borini’s only representation for Chelsea’s senior team as he permanently left for Parma following the conclusion of his Swansea loan. After varying stints at Roma, Liverpool, Sunderland, Milan, Hellas Verona and current club Fatih Karagümrük – it’s safe to say that Borini hasn’t quite hit the heights he did during his early days in England.

#4 Dominic Solanke

Chelsea v Manchester City - FA Youth Cup Final: Second Leg
Chelsea v Manchester City - FA Youth Cup Final: Second Leg

Bournemouth striker Dominic Solanke started his career with Chelsea’s Under-8 team back in 2004 and quickly established himself as a future star. The 2013-2014 season proved to be Solanke’s breakout year, with the youngster scoring 20 goals in 25 appearances for the youth team, including two in the FA Youth Cup final against Fulham, which proved integral to Chelsea lifting the cup.

The following season proved to be even better for Solanke, who signed his first professional contract with Chelsea. The youngster emerged as Chelsea’s top scorer in the UEFA Youth League, where the Blues went on to win. He also played an integral part in Chelsea lifting the FA Youth Cup for a second consecutive time.

2014 also saw Solanke become the youngest Chelsea player to debut in the Champions League – a record he set when he came on for Oscar in the 73rd minute of the match against Maribor. Solanke’s stellar feats in the 2014-15 season earned him the Chelsea Academy Player of the Year award.

The 23-year-old was also extremely prolific for England’s youth teams, helping them win the Euro Under-17 Championship as well as the Under-20 World Cup – where he won the Golden Ball for his feats in helping the Young Lions lift the trophy.

Despite his incredible exploits with the Blues, Solanke joined rivals Liverpool after a promising loan spell with Vitesse, upon expiration of his contract. Solanke could not replicate his incredible form for the Reds and was sold to Bournemouth after just one season, and is currently recapturing his form in the Championship after a few hiccups.

#3 Thorgan Hazard

Belgium v Netherlands - International Friendly
Belgium v Netherlands - International Friendly

The other Hazard’s arrival at Chelsea back in 2012 was completely overshadowed by his more famous sibling’s - but what he lacked in fame, he more than made up for with talent. Thorgan made his debut for the Blues in an Under-21 Premier League match against Manchester City back in 2012, which turned out to be his only outing for the London club.

He was shipped on loan to his homeland with Belgian club Zulte Waregem soon after, where he had two promising seasons – crowned by the Belgian Golden Shoe and Belgian Footballer of the Year award. A loan stint with Borussia Mönchengladbach followed, with the club signing Thorgan on a permanent deal after he shone on loan.

After excelling for four seasons with Mönchengladbach, the 27-year-old now does what he does best at Dortmund, where he’s firmly established himself as one of the Bundesliga’s most reliable wingers. In fact, the younger Hazard spends more time on the pitch nowadays than his elder sibling. Why he wasn’t given a chance to prove himself at Chelsea is anyone’s guess.

#2 Patrick van Aanholt

Chelsea v Newcastle United - Carling Cup 3rd Round
Chelsea v Newcastle United - Carling Cup 3rd Round

The promising youngster, who was a product of PSV’s much acclaimed academy, joined Chelsea back in 2007. While his talents as a left-back were never in question, there was just one problem – a certain Ashley Cole, who was undoubtedly one of the best in his position at the time.

And thus began a series of loans for van Aanholt, who was one of the first players Chelsea utilized the loan system for. A short loan to Coventry came first before stints at Newcastle United, Leicester City, Wigan Athletic and finally Vitesse – which is where he came into his own as a player.

The Dutchman’s loan stint in his homeland turned out to be his last with Chelsea, who permanently sold him to Sunderland after featuring him in just 2 league matches and a handful of domestic and continental games. The 30-year-old is currently at Crystal Palace, where he’s developed into a key player and is currently on the radar of several top sides.

#1 Patrick Bamford

Chelsea v Leeds United - Premier League
Chelsea v Leeds United - Premier League

Patrick Bamford’s journey in football has been quite the roller coaster, with the forward even turning down a Harvard scholarship in order to make it big in the game he loves so much. The 27-year-old joined Chelsea from Nottingham Forest for a fee of £1.5 million back in 2012, signing a five-year contract, and was immediately put into the reserves.

However, Bamford’s time with the reserves didn’t last long, and he was sent on a series of fruitful loan spells with MK Dons, Derby County and Middlesbrough before less fulfilling stints with Crystal Palace, Norwich and Burnley. His time with Chelsea ended in 2017 when he rejoined Middlesbrough on a permanent basis without having made a single senior appearance for the Blues.

Bamford is currently thriving at Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, where he’s developed into one of the Premier League’s deadliest forwards after having fired the Yorkshire club to the Championship title last season. With Bamford also firmly knocking on England’s door before Euro 2020, it’s safe to say that his decision to make the grade in football has paid off.

Quick Links

Edited by Prem Deshpande
App download animated image Get the free App now