Signing Shevchenko led to Mourinho’s downfall, Costa accused the club of treating him like a ‘criminal’ and Mutu failed a drugs test… Romelu Lukaku joins a long list of unhappy Chelsea strikers after his bombshell interview
- Romelu Lukaku has been pressed into an apology for giving an unauthorised interview in which he spoke of his unhappiness at Chelsea
- The Belgian striker only returned to the club in a £98million deal last summer
- But he has now become the latest striker to grow unhappy at Stamford Bridge
- There have been plenty of examples even during the Roman Abramovich era
It isn’t quite the start to the year Chelsea would have hoped for.
Slipping further and further behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race but still with a chance of winning four other competitions, Thomas Tuchel and his team needed only harmony.
Unfortunately, Romelu Lukaku decided to open his mouth and torpedo all of that. In just a couple of lines spoken during an interview with Sky Sport Italia, the Belgian striker has well and truly rocked the boat.
Romelu Lukaku has upset things at Chelsea by speaking out about his unhappiness – but he isn’t the first big money striker to feel miserable at the club
Manager Thomas Tuchel met with Lukaku for talks on Monday following his bombshell
Lukaku, a club record £98million signing back in the summer, confessed to his unhappiness at Stamford Bridge, especially at Tuchel’s choice of formation, and made no secret of his affection for former club Inter Milan.
Having left him out the squad for Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool, Tuchel met with Lukaku for talks on Monday with the Belgian showing remorse for his actions.
But Chelsea have very much been here before. Even in the post-2003 era of Roman Abramovich’s ownership, there is a very long list of strikers who have ended up unhappy at the club.
The likes of Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Olivier Giroud have bucked the trend but for most of Chelsea’s high profile strikers in the past two decades, it’s usually ended in disappointment or acrimony.
The Argentine was the headline arrival of Abramovich’s first summer as Chelsea owner, costing £16.8million from Inter Milan.
His first season in England was encouraging enough, with 12 goals, but Jose Mourinho then farmed him out on loan to AC Milan to make space for new signing Drogba.
Crespo did return to Stamford Bridge and played a substantial role in Chelsea’s second consecutive Premier League title win in 2005-06.
Though a popular figure among Chelsea fans, his family struggled to settle in London and ultimately he would return to more comfortable surroundings in Italy after further loan spells.
Hernan Crespo helped Chelsea win the Premier League title but never really settled in England
Another eye-catching arrival amongst that £150million splurge in Abramovich’s first summer.
The Romanian, signed for £15m from Parma, started in blistering fashion with four goals in his first three appearances, including two against Tottenham.
But once Claudio Ranieri left, Mourinho didn’t fancy him and his Chelsea career was destroyed when he was banned from football for seven months at the start of 2004-05 for cocaine use.
Mutu’s time with the club ended in acrimony and lengthy legal proceedings as Chelsea chased compensation for breach of contract. Mutu ended up paying Chelsea €17m in damages.
Adrian Mutu’s time at Chelsea ended in acrimony when he failed a drugs test in 2004
Handed the No 9 shirt at Chelsea when he became Mourinho’s first signing as Chelsea manager in the summer of 2004.
The Serbian lasted only one season at the club, however, scoring just seven times in 41 matches before being sold on to Atletico Madrid. One goal did come in the League Cup final win against Liverpool, however.
Kezman later admitted to a tinge of regret at leaving Chelsea so quickly but he certainly would have struggled for regular game time.
Mateja Kezman was never able to become first choice and spent just one season at Chelsea
It was the persistence of Abramovich that persuaded Shevchenko, one of Europe’s most prolific strikers over many seasons, to swap AC Milan for Chelsea in the summer of 2006.
The Blues paid a British record transfer fee of £30m to sign him but he was a real flop, scoring just 22 times in two seasons in England before being loaned back to Milan.
Mourinho never really wanted Shevchenko in his team and didn’t pick him as often as the owner would have liked. ‘He was not my first choice… I had asked for another player,’ Mourinho later said.
As a result, the striker became caught in the middle of increasing tensions between Mourinho and the Chelsea hierarchy, ultimately leading to his departure in September 2007.
Andriy Shevchenko was never wanted by Jose Mourinho but led to his tenure coming to an end
An even greater waste of money was Torres, who cost an astonishing £50m when Chelsea bought him from Liverpool in January 2011.
The Spanish striker, who scored goals for fun at Anfield, suddenly lost the knack when in a blue shirt. It took him 903 minutes to open his Chelsea account and by that time he was a laughing stock.
While he did score against Barcelona in the 2012 Champions League semi-final and also in the 2013 Europa League final, an overall return of 45 goals in 172 appearances was nowhere near the expectations for the money spent.
Fernando Torres never lived up to the expectations of a £50m striker when at Chelsea
Undoubtedly one of the best strikers Chelsea have had in the Premier League, the combative Costa scored 59 times in 120 games for them and won two titles.
Diego Costa was a brilliant striker for Chelsea but his time there ended in acrimony
Despite good scoring form in the 2016-17 season, he never saw eye-to-eye with manager Antonio Conte. In January, he was dropped following a disagreement that stemmed from a move to the Chinese Super League.
Despite finishing that season as the club’s top scorer, Conte informed him via text message he wouldn’t be part of his plans for the next campaign.
Costa went into exile in Brazil while accusing Chelsea of treating him like a ‘criminal’ by demanding too high a transfer fee from Atletico Madrid.
Finally, in September 2017, Chelsea and Atletico agreed the move but Costa wasn’t able to play for them until the January because of a transfer ban imposed on the Spanish club. It was certainly an unedifying end to the Chelsea career of a popular player.
The curse of the enormous transfer fee struck Morata as well. He cost Chelsea a club record £60million from Real Madrid in the summer of 2017, leading to the ditching of Costa.
Expectations were understandably sky-high and he did manage 15 goals in his first season but Chelsea finished a disappointing fifth.
But under Maurizio Sarri, Morata struggled so much – just nine goals in 24 games – that Chelsea decided to simply cut their losses with him. The good news was they recouped almost all their outlay on him when Atletico made permanent an initial loan.
Another expensive flop, however.
Alvaro Morata came with a big price tag and expectations but failed to make much impact
A pricey £47.5m signing in the summer of 2020 as Chelsea again searched for a striker who could power them to glory.
The German had been super-prolific for RB Leipzig but struggled once he made it to Chelsea, managing only 12 goals in his first season.
The fact the club felt the need to spend almost £100m to bring in Lukaku wasn’t exactly the greatest vote of confidence in Werner, who again hasn’t really got going this term amid injuries and Covid.
The jury remains out on Timo Werner, who has struggled to adapt to the Premier League
It’s not just the strikers either
It isn’t just strikers who have found themselves under a dark cloud at Chelsea.
William Gallas left for Arsenal as part of the deal that brought Ashley Cole to the club after the Frenchman had rejected a new contract offer and demanded more money.
Chelsea issued an extraordinary statement following his departure that Gallas had threatened to score own goals if he was not allowed to leave. Gallas responded by rejecting the claim and accused the club of a ‘lack of class’.
William Gallas left Chelsea under a dark cloud as part of the Ashley Cole deal in 2006
Current midfielder Jorginho was scathing of Frank Lampard’s managerial abilities a few months after the club legend had been sacked.
Jorginho claimed Lampard ‘skipped some steps necessary for learning before moving to a big club’ and ‘wasn’t ready for the job.’
Lampard had considered whether to sell Jorginho during his time in charge, with the midfielder more integral to his predecessor Sarri’s style of football.
Jorginho (right) was critical of Frank Lampard’s (left) coaching inexperience
Eden Hazard, meanwhile, was Chelsea’s superstar player but couldn’t resist flirting with Real Madrid prior to securing his move there.
The Belgian was glowing in his praise of their manager Zinedine Zidane as early as 2016, saying he ‘ate, slept and breathed Zidane’ as a kid.
Hazard repeatedly spoke of his ambition to play for Real one day before being granted his wish in 2019.
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