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Ranking Chelsea’s recent forward signings as the Blues prepare to welcome João Félix

Excitement surrounding the impending arrival of the Portuguese star may come with muted concerns given Chelsea’s recent transfer record across the forward line

The Premier League is set to welcome another star name into the ranks as Chelsea close on a loan deal that will see Portuguese international star João Félix temporarily swap one capital for another for the remainder of the 2022-23 season.

An unquestionable talent, the Atlético Madrid forward has been perhaps one of the most highly-rated talents to ever emerge from Portugal across the nation’s footballing history and would join a long line of top talent in the final third to ply their trade at Stamford Bridge.

Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992-93, the Blues have been home to the likes of Gianluca Vialli, Gianfranco Zola, Tore André Flo, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, and Diego Costa have enjoyed some measure of success at the Bridge at the very least, while Hasselbaink, Drogba, and Costa each scored at least 20 goals in the league on two occasions each.

But with success has come frustration as well, and Chelsea has certainly been guilty of bringing in forward signings who may have shone elsewhere beforehand, but could only be described as abject failures when all things are considered. Names like Adrian Mutu, Mateja Kežman, Michy Batshuayi, Andriy Shevchenko, Fernando Torres, and Alvaro Morata all flattered to deceive during their spell in west London.

That trend has continued in recent seasons as well, unfortunately, after SkySports recently made mention of the fact that, since summer 2020, Chelsea has parted ways with ~£320m on transfer fees for forwards, which could certainly call into question whether or not the club will finally go back to getting it right in terms of the forward line as Chelsea moves forward under the co-ownership umbrella of Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital Group.

With that in mind, 101 Great Goals ranks Chelsea’s recent transfer business in the forward line role (note: the ranking system will be 1-5, 5 being the highest, and it will not take into consideration new signing David Datro Fofana).

Romelu Lukaku | £97.5m from Inter Milan: 1

Despite scoring on his second club debut against rivals Arsenal in a 2-0 win at the Emirates, Lukaku went on to be a major source of frustration for the Blues fan base before ultimately finishing the 2021-22 league campaign with just eight goals in 26 appearances; an incredibly poor return for a massive investment.

Kai Havertz | £75.8m from Bayer Leverkusen: 3

There will be some that will suggest that this ranking is generous for German international and former Bayer Leverkusen wunderkind Kai Havertz, but his transfer (and not the only one, either) deserves greater context than just his return on the scoresheet.

The Aachen native arrived in England amid much fan fair after emerging as arguably Germany’s brightest young talent during his period at the Bay Arena and was heralded as a piece of business that could genuinely change the fortunes of the club. That has not come to fruition, however, but much of that is not down to the player himself. Versatile he may be, but multiple managers utilizing the 23-year-old at certain roles inside tactical schematics that he is ill-suited to have been much of the issue surrounding him. Granted his finishing has let him down often, but the Blues have, still, never truly tapped into him the right way.

Raheem Sterling | £47.5m from Manchester City: 2

One of England’s long-time top performers for the national team, Raheem Sterling has typically been viewed as one of the Premier League’s top talents since he burst onto the scene at Liverpool. But it was at Manchester City that the Jamaican-born winger hit new heights and was molded into another animal entirely, with Sterling hitting double-digit goal markers for five consecutive seasons which included 20 league goals in 2019-20.

It may be his first season in west London, but Sterling has failed in all respects when it comes to bringing that same consistent attacking quality to the Bridge, regardless if it was briefly under Thomas Tuchel or current boss Graham Potter, and at the time of writing, has just four league goals going into matchday eighteen. The sub-£50m fee paid for him spares Sterling from the worst possible ranking.

Timo Werner | £45m from RB Leipzig: 2

Few players in recent years have hit the goalscoring heights that Timo Werner achieved in the Bundesliga during his time with Saxon upstarts RB Leipzig. With 78 goals in 128 league appearances across his four-year stint. at Red Bull Arena, Werner was regularly fighting for the top echelons of the goal table with the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland. But there were many in the German sphere of influence that questioned whether or not the German hitman was a good fit for a club that did not play a brand of football suited to his strengths; they were ultimately proven right.

Often deployed on the flank because of his pace or as a loan striker to lead the line, Werner never got close to his usual goal return of consistency that he had built his reputation on while at RBL, and after two years at the Bridge and just 10 Premier League goals to show for it in 56 appearances, he returned to Saxony to rebuild his foundering reputation.

Hakim Ziyech | £33.3m from AFC Ajax: 3

One of the players that probably deserves a fair degree of leeway when it comes to his spell at Chelsea, Moroccan star Hakim Ziyech has proven many times over across his career just how talented he can be. From dominating the Eredivisie at numerous clubs to producing show-stopping performances for Ajax in the Champions League to being a key performer for his country at the recent 2022 World Cup, Ziyech’s level of ability is not in dispute. But it has hardly come off that well at Chelsea since his heralded move to London in 2020.

Yes, Ziyech played a role in the Blues’ unexpected Champions League win under former boss Thomas Tuchel as well as a UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup win, which probably gives him the ranking he receives here, but Ziyech has been one of a number of inconsistent performers since his arrival, but much like the aforementioned Havertz, and others not in focus in this piece, that is largely not down to him. On his day he is fun to watch for the fans no doubt, but few would argue that his influence has been railroaded in many ways. With just 24 direct goal returns in 95 overall appearances, he’s not been what the club expected.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang | £10.3m from Barcelona: 1

Last, and fortunately least from a Chelsea perspective, the figure that is Gabonese star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Once viewed as one of Europe’s leading strikers during a fantastic spell at Borussia Dortmund that saw him hit 98 goals in 144 Bundesliga outings – a number that expanded to 141 goals in 213 appearances across all competitions – Auba’s falling out with Dortmund saw him move to Arsenal where he hit 20 goals in each of his first two seasons in the Premier League before, again, falling out with his employers.

Chelsea’s need for a striker caused the Blues to take a major- albeit inexpensive – gamble on the Gabonese striker in the summer window after he had failed to establish roots at Barcelona. To date, Auba has found the back of the net on just three occasions in fifteen combined appearances while already losing his place in the preferred XI, and is likely to remain behind in the pecking order once Félix arrives. Despite his low fee, it has been a poor move indeed.

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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