Chelsea’s best XI of Roman Abramovich signings as glittering chapter closes

Abramovich makes ‘incredibly difficult decision’ to sell Chelsea

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Before Roman Abramovich came along, Chelsea were a team pushing to become one of the best in world football. Now, after a glittering 19-year spell at Stamford Bridge, the Russian can walk away knowing he succeeded in that task. Without his investment, it’s possible the club wouldn’t have amassed the huge trophy haul they have over the past two decades.

Amid Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich has confirmed he’s put Chelsea up for sale.

He said in a statement on Wednesday: “I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interests at heart.

“In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the club, fans, employees, as well as sponsors and partners.”

Abramovich was attracted to English football after watching Manchester United’s stirring 4-3 Champions League win over Real Madrid.

And he’s seen the Blues win that famous trophy twice since his takeover, as well as five Premier League titles and five FA Cup crowns.

So, after a glittering chapter, Express Sport will now take a look at the Blues’ best-ever XI consisting of his signings – not including academy graduates or players there before his tenure.

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Goalkeeper: Cech

Let’s start with the obvious.

Chelsea did actually possess a world-class goalkeeper in Carlo Cudicini when they signed Petr Cech from Rennes back in the summer of 2004.

Yet the Czech Republican shot-stopper would go on to establish himself as a club legend and an undroppable presence under the likes of Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Carlo Ancelotti and more.

Cech, during his prime years, was the best goalkeeper in the Premier League.

So he’d walk into this team, claiming the No 1 jersey. He currently serves at Stamford Bridge as a director after retiring in May 2019, having endured a troublesome spell at Arsenal.

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Defence: Azpilicueta, Carvalho, Ivanovic, Cole

We’ll be going with four at the back for this team.

Baring in mind John Terry can’t be selected given he was at the club before Abramovich took charge, Ricardo Carvalho and Bratislava Ivanovic would be a strong centre-back pairing.

Carvalho followed Mourinho from Porto to Chelsea in 2004 and, along with Terry, made the Blues extremely difficult to beat.

Ivanovic was a low-key signing in January 2008 from Lokomotiv Moscow but would go on to help the club win three league titles.

At right-back, Cesar Azpilicueta would get the nod having been a regular in the side for over a decade.

And Ashley Cole was certainly worth all the trouble after Chelsea brought him in from Arsenal in the summer of 2006, with the left-back scaling new heights in north London.

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Midfield: Makelele, Kante, Ballack

Chelsea conducted a raid on Real Madrid in 2003 by landing Claudio Makelele.

Los Blancos had landed David Beckham that same summer and, in order to balance the books, decided to jettison the France international.

Their loss was Chelsea’s gain, however, with Makelele establishing himself as a cult hero and changing Premier League football forever in the process.

N’Golo Kante has been similarly brilliant ever since touching down from Leicester back in the summer transfer window of 2016.

Given we can’t have Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack would then get the nod.

The German was unplayable at times, even if much of his best football came during his spell in the Bundesliga. Ballack would cruise into their current team which is saying something given the wealth of options Thomas Tuchel has at his disposal.

Forwards: Cole, Drogba, Hazard

Didier Drogba is a straightforward pick for the No 9 role.

Signed by Mourinho back in 2004, the Ivory Coast international is fondly remembered as their best-ever Premier League striker.

Without Drogba, Chelsea may never have won the league titles they did. Certainly, their Champions League triumph in 2012 would have been difficult to achieve.

On the right, Joe Cole just about gets into the side ahead of Damien Duff.

And we’d go with Eden Hazard on the left, with the Belgium international unnervingly good prior to leaving for Real Madrid in 2019.

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