Over the last few weeks, the team at Last Word on Football has delivered its ‘Team of the Decade’ series where you can read about some wonderful squads. But, this article is the opposite of those. Today, we look at the WORST to sign and play for Chelsea from 2010-2019.
Just like the mixed seasons of Premier League titles juxtaposed with missing out on European qualification all together this decade, the players to walk through the door at Stamford Bridge have also been a mixed bag at times. Here’s our Chelsea Bust XI of the decade.
Worst Team Of The Decade: Chelsea
Goalkeeper – Kepa Arrizabalaga
It may seem harsh to consider Kepa Arrizabalaga the worst keeper of the past decade for Chelsea after only a year-and-a-half. But when you’re the most expensive keeper in the world, you have to live up to it. And the Spaniard hasn’t. It’s not that he has played atrociously in West London, but neither has he reached the heights expected of him after his transfer from Athletic Bilbao in the summer of 2018.
From his infamous refusal to be substituted in the 2019 League Cup Final against Manchester City to his benching this year by manager Frank Lampard, calling Kepa’s time at Chelsea underwhelming is an understatement.
Right-Back – Davide Zappacosta
In two seasons with Chelsea, the Italian made a total of 52 appearances across all competitions for the club. Worse, in his final year, 2018/19, he only saw the pitch four times in the Premier League. Zappacosta made a loud introduction to Chelsea fans in the Champions League when his cross against Qarabag drifted towards the net and into the goal. But that is where the highlights stop.
Under two fellow Italian managers, Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri, Zappacosta never could breakthrough at the club. At the same time, his few appearances with the Italian National Team also dried up. For €28 million, Chelsea received virtually no production from the right-back, eventually loaning him to Roma before the 2019/20 season.
Centre-Back – Matt Miazga
Who? Exactly. Chelsea bought Miazga from MLS’ New York Red Bulls in January of 2016 for a modest £3.5 million after several successful seasons maturing into one of the best defenders in the USA. The American led the Red Bulls in 2015 to their second Supporters Shield in three years (awarded each season to the team with the best record in MLS) on top of earning his first call-up to the USA Men’s National Team. But when he arrived in west London, the step-up in quality proved too much.
Miazga made two appearances for Chelsea throughout the remainder of his debut campaign, but didn’t impress enough. Since then, he spent a two-year loan at Vitesse where he played a key role in their first ever major domestic trophy, winning the Dutch Cup in 2016/17, and played for Nantes in Ligue 1 for a year. Most recently, he’s been plying his trade for Reading in the Championship, still on loan.
Centre-Back – Papy Djilobodji
Chelsea fans likely know the name, but like Jose Mourinho, have probably never seen him play. After signing the Senegalese defender in 2015, Mourinho admitted he did not know about Djilobodji nor had ever really seen him play, instead trusting his scouting team in this instance.
Djilobodji made an astonishing one appearance for the Blues in his entire tenure with the club before going to Werder Bremen on loan the following season. Eventually, he left the club for Sunderland and has not enjoyed any of the success expected of him when he swamped Nantes for Stamford Bridge.
Left-Back – Baba Rahman
Theoretically, Rahman could still turn around his Chelsea tenure as he’s still on the books, on loan at Mallorca in La Liga. He had a fantastic season at Augsburg in the Bundesliga in 2014/15 which enticed the Blues to go after him. Very quickly, the Ghana international found life at a ‘top six’ club in the Premier League to be much tougher than anticipated.
Rahman showed flashes in blue, but never quite put it together. At least, not enough to keep his spot regularly at left-back. Still only 25, Chelsea are holding on that loans in Spain, France, and Germany have and will turn him into a solid defender that can fly up and down the left flank.
Central Midfield – Danny Drinkwater
This needs no explanation. Chelsea spent £35 million on the former Leicester City midfielder who failed miserably to replicate his 2015/16 title-winning form he had with the Foxes. Injuries have hampered him, but even getting paired with N’Golo Kante again in midfield did nothing for him.
Under Sarri, Drinkwater made one appearance in 2018/19, that being in the Community Shield. Drinkwater still is under contract with the Blues and seems likely to stay, much to the chagrin of fans. A horrific loan spell with Burnley during the first half of this season coupled with an equally as poor loan at Aston Villa right now points to absolutely zero suitors taking him off Chelsea’s hands anytime soon.
Central Midfield – Tiemoue Bakayoko
Bakayoko reaped the benefits of Monaco’s shock 2016/17 Ligue 1 title and like many of his team-mates, Kylian Mbappe and Bernardo Silva just to name a few, got a huge money move after. The difference, though, is that his play has become virtually unrecognisable when compared to his title-winning season in the French principality.
Bakayoko became the club’s second most expensive signing, and disappointed to such a degree that after only one-year he was gone. He first moved on loan to AC Milan and now plays again for Monaco with the option to join them permanently after this season. Chelsea will probably want to happen.
Attacking Midfield – Yossi Benayoun
You’ll have to think back a bit to remember Benayoun at Chelsea. The Israeli international joined the Blues before the 2010/11 season and received the number ten shirt. Although he did not choose it, clearly the club envisioned a prominent role for him in the squad that featured Frank Lampard, Florent Malouda, Ramires, Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel in midfield. And yet, he wore the prestigious number. Albeit, not very often.
In three years on the books at Chelsea, Benayoun tallied 24 appearances scoring just one goal and registering two assists. He also had two disastrous loans at both Arsenal and West Ham United. After another year in England at QPR, he returned to his native Israel to continue his career.
Forward – Radamel Falcao/Alexandre Pato
We’re combining the two South Americans into one because they each basically played one half of the 2015/16 season. After Falcao’s injury in November of that season, Pato joined in the January window, for all intents and purposes, as a replacement. Together, they amassed 14 appearances and two goals. They split the goals evenly, but Falcao earned the lion’s share of the appearances tally with 12, meaning a dismal two for Pato.
The two shared a season, but even their times before and after Chelsea mirror each other. Falcao succeeded hugely in Portugal, Spain, and France before going bust in the Premier League, and that includes a stint at Manchester United as well. As for Pato, he stole the show at AC Milan for years before injury.
After leaving west London, both have gone to more exotic leagues. Falcao moved to Galatasaray in Turkey in 2019 while Pato joined Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian in 2017, having since left and returned to his native Brazil.
Forward – Alvaro Morata
When you have Juventus, Real Madrid, Champions League Finals and Chelsea club-record signing on your resume, you will have to produce. Well, Alvaro Morata didn’t. 24 goals and six assists in 74 appearances isn’t terrible. But it isn’t great either. Nor does it justify the price-tag.
Morata did not perform consistently enough to be a top striker at a Big 6 club and he also got the reputation as “soft,” and maybe mentally more than physically. Morata also lacked finishing, missing chances a world-class striker has to hit. When compounded by his supposed softness between the ears, it became a lethal combination. And not in a good way. Morata left Chelsea after 18 months and remains on loan with Atletico Madrid partnering another forward who left Chelsea in Diego Costa.
Striker – Fernando Torres
The flop of all flops at Chelsea, Fernando Torres gets the nod up front for Chelsea’s Worst Of The Decade. Torres’ time wasn’t as bad as made out to seem. In 172 appearances, he racked up 45 goals and 35 assists which are midfielder numbers and nowhere good enough for a striker. It also didn’t help that Torres never reached the same level he showed at Liverpool. Making it even worse was Torres becoming the most expensive British transfer in history.
Torres, though, will live in Chelsea folklore forever for both scoring the goal to send them to the Champions League Final in 2012 and for being the biggest flop in club history.
Manager – Andre Villas-Boas
Villas-Boas led Chelsea to a sub 50% winning percentage in less than one season in charge, the only permanent manager in the millennium, let alone the decade, to not win at least half his games in charge. He also joined arch rival Spurs as manager the following season, making him unwelcome at Stamford Bridge.
Formation – 4-2-1-3
What on earth is this formation? Precisely. The worst manager in Chelsea history this decade will certainly set them up in a nonsensical formation bound to fail.
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