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Ranking the 5 worst Chelsea defenders of the Roman Abramovich era

Manchester United v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League Final
Manchester United v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League Final
Nikhil Krishna

Roman Abramovich's Chelsea have been the epitome of defensively sound and imperious football over the last two decades.

Chelsea have been known for their fortitude, right from the reign of Jose Mourinho. Under the Portuguese boss, John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho led Chelsea to back-to-back Premier League crowns. The likes of Gary Cahill and David Luiz, followed by present day defenders Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta have all helped Chelsea keep a defensive shine.

Despite the many great defenders in the club's history, Chelsea have also had their share of unreliable stoppers that worked against expectations. Here's looking at 5 of Chelsea's most disappointing defenders in the Roman Abramovich era:


#5 Tal Ben Haim

Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League
Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League

Tal Ben Haim was signed in June 2007 as an imposing no nonsense centreback from Bolton Wanderers. Chelsea swooped in for the Israeli centreback on what looked to be an astute signing, providing cover to the likes of John Terry, Gallas and Carvalho.

Very quickly, however, he found himself at the tail end of the pecking order, with subpar performances putting Brazilian Alex above as a starter. It soon all came to a bitter end as he vocally criticized manager Avram Grant for not playing him. He was fined two weeks' wages for public dissent, insisting that he signed up to play for Jose Mourinho.

Didier Drogba wanted to 'KILL' Tal Ben Haim, Essien 'snapped' Shevchenko... and Jose 'thrived off' it! Steve Sidwell lifts the lid on the culture Mourinho created at Chelsea trib.al/UN0p3jZ

He was never to play for the club again as Chelsea packed him away to Manchester City. The Blues made a healthy 5 million pound profit from the transfer. Having once again failed to establish himself in the first team, he went out on loan to Sunderland. He then proceeded to have a journeyman career at the likes of Portsmouth, West Ham, Queen's Park Rangers, Standard Leige and Charlton Athletic. He finally returned "home" to Maccabi Tel Aviv.


#4 Yuri Zhirkov

Chelsea v Watford - FA Cup 3rd Round
Chelsea v Watford - FA Cup 3rd Round

Yuri Zhirkov arrived at Chelsea in 2009 from CSKA Moscow as the most expensive Russian player in history, having made the Euro 2008 team of the tournament. The near £18 million fee for Zhirkov was exuberant, despite his versatile ability to play anywhere on the left flank. He was primarily seen as a hardworking and industrious full-back.

Despite his obvious ability, Zhirkov found it hard to displace Ashley Cole from the starting spot. He was instead reduced to a utility-man role for two seasons until 2011, when the riches of Anzhi Makhachkala came calling.

🇷🇺 Happy birthday, Yuri Zhirkov 🥳🔝 Who's your favourite player to represent Russia? #HBD | @TeamRussia https://t.co/InP2euFBI0

Despite his failure at Chelsea, Zhirkov is recognized as one of the greatest Russian players of all time. He played in five international tournaments and earning 105 national caps. Zhirkov has a storied playing career with Dynamo Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg after his Anzhi expedition.


#3 Baba Rahman

Swansea City v Chelsea - Premier League
Swansea City v Chelsea - Premier League

He was a disastrous signing that set the tone for Chelsea's shambollic defence of their Premier League title in August 2015. Baba Rahman was signed for a zealous 14 million fee as a promising fullback from Augsburg.

He managed to string together 15 appearances in Chelsea colors and was vastly out of depth and pace with the frantic intensity of the Premier League. Mourinho was vocal about his and Papy Djibodji's quality to play for Chelsea.

Somehow, Baba Rahman remains on the books of the club for nearly 6 years with just 23 appearances in between. He has been sent out on globetrotting loan spells to the likes of Reading, Schalke, Reims, Mallorca and PAOK, all the while still being paid partially by Chelsea.


#2 Khalid Boularhouz

Uruguay v Netherlands: 2010 FIFA World Cup - Semi Final
Uruguay v Netherlands: 2010 FIFA World Cup - Semi Final

He was a fully fledged Netherlands international, playing in four major tournaments for the Oranje. Khalid Bhoularouz had all the makings of a misplaced transfer for Chelsea, right from the moment he wore "Number 9" as a centre back.

2006-07: Khalid BoulahrouzPosition: DefenderFrom: HamburgFee: £8.5mGames: 20Goals: 0 (obviously)A footballing crime. https://t.co/blrkgFxefE

Signed by Jose Mourinho who was impressed by the lanky Dutchman's mobility and versatility, Boulahrouz had a largely "start-stop" Chelsea career. Plagued by injuries and just having to compete with world class defenders for a starting position, Boulahrouz was up against it from the very start.

Then came a debilitating knee injury that put to rest his hopes in Chelsea blue. he was shipped out to Sevilla, where he made just 6 appearances before being permanently sold to Stuttgart for a paltry 5 million fee.


#1 Asier Del Horno

Chelsea v Arsenal
Chelsea v Arsenal

The Spanish fullback arrived in London to shoulder great expectations of becoming a Chelsea regular in the left back slot. Rapid, robust in the tackle and technically adept for Atheltic Bibao, Chelsea snapped up the then 24-year-old for a £8.4 million fee in 2005.

It's hard to designate a league-winning fullback as a complete flop for Chelsea. But Del Horno's only season at Chelsea was largely forgetable despite making over 25 appearances. Sadly, the most memorable moment was the Champions League tie against Barcelona where he was run ragged by a teenage Lionel Messi. He was sent off for a rash challenge that defined his Chelsea career.

#OnThisDay in 2006, Asier del Horno and the boys tried to put the clamps on a 19-year-old Lionel Messi at a very muddy Stamford Bridge.https://t.co/AF9GvlHqCH
Edited by Diptanil Roy

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