The Blues have had some near-misses over the years...

An XI of transfer targets Chelsea dodged a bullet by not signing

From Ronaldinho to Lionel Messi to Steven Gerrard back in the day, Chelsea have missed out on some stellar signings over the years. But what about the transfer targets that they can feel relieved about failing to get over the line?

Chelsea have made some questionable decisions when it comes to recruitment and squad-building in recent years, but things might’ve gone a lot worse for the club had they signed some big names that proved to be costly flops elsewhere.

We’ve put together a full XI of transfer targets that Chelsea have dodged a bullet by not signing, arranged in a 4-4-2 formation.

GK: John Ruddy

Admittedly not a massively consequential one, given that Ruddy was never going to be first-choice at Stamford Bridge.

Back in the summer of 2013, Norwich knocked back multiple Chelsea bids – rising to £6million – for their ‘keeper, who was reportedly keen on a move but ended up staying put at Carrow Road for another four years.

Ruddy, who is turning out for Birmingham City nowadays, has proven himself a decent enough shot-stopper in the Championship. But he’s ultimately done little to make Chelsea look back with any regrets at not landing him. They ended up signing Mark Schwarzer as Petr Cech’s back-up instead.

RB: Nelson Semedo

Earlier this season, it was reported that Chelsea were eyeing up the Wolves defender as an alternative to the oft-sidelined club captain Reece James.

Semedo has proven himself a perfectly serviceable Premier League right-back at a Wolves side that have been something of a surprise package this season.

Yet you’d also have to question whether the 30-year-old Portugal international is quite at the level of where Chelsea have ambitions to be, given how he struggled at Barcelona.

We imagine he’s still having nightmares about facing Alphonso Davies in the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich.

CB: Ramiro Funes Mori

“It can be said that it’s my second spell at England — I had a trial for Chelsea a few years ago alongside my twin brother,” the Argentinian defender told the Daily Express after signing for Everton in 2015.

“We stayed at Chelsea for two weeks but had to leave because we didn’t have a European passport.

“Well, I still don’t have a European passport but Everton truly wanted me. So now I hope to be ready and get used to playing in the Premier League as soon as possible.”

Funes Mori wasn’t especially convincing during his three-year stint at Goodison, and certainly wouldn’t have received envious glances from Chelsea.

CB: Aymen Abdennour

“Yes, there was indeed interest [from Chelsea],” the Tunisian centre-back told Super Deporte in 2015.

“There were a lot of clubs I could have gone to play for in England or in Italy, but in the end [Peter] Lim’s project was what attracted me.”

Mourinho was said to have been particularly keen on signing the Monaco defender, who rejected a move to Stamford Bridge to go to Valencia.

But he made just 35 La Liga appearances in his four-year spell at Mestalla, and was last seen turning out for Ligue 2 outfit Rodez.

In fairness, Abdennour probably would’ve fared better than the player they signed in his place – Papy Djilobodji.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Chelsea’s 20 most expensive transfers in history?

LB: Marcos Rojo

Having caught the eye with a role in Argentina’s run to the 2014 World Cup final, Rojo – then at Sporting Lisbon – was linked with a move to Chelsea, Liverpool and Barcelona (per The Independent).

He did end up moving that summer, joining Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United. Rojo remained on the club’s books for seven years but wasn’t especially successful.

Nowadays he’s back in Argentina, captaining Boca Juniors. We’re pleased to tell you he’s still an absolute headcase.

RW: Lazar Markovic

Partizan Belgrade president Dragan Djuric revealed that Chelsea came close to signing Markovic. It’s said that they had a deal with the investment group that owned 50 per cent of the player.

Chelsea reportedly planned on signing the player directly from Partizan before loaning him out to Benfica. His stock subsequently rose considerably after starring in the Portuguese giants’ 2013-14 domestic treble, but once again Chelsea turned down the option to sign him.

Mourinho twice vetoed the move, a decision that was vindicated by how badly the Serbian winger struggled at Liverpool.

CM: Paulinho

“Chelsea to be given a close-up view of transfer target Paulinho” read one headline in The Guardian ahead of Chelsea’s Club World Cup clash with Corinthians in 2012.

Inter, AC Milan, PSG and Manchester United are also said to be eyeing up a move for the Brazil international, who did end up moving to Europe the following summer… joining Tottenham, where he proved an unmitigated disaster.

Paulinho continued to be linked with a move to Chelsea even after his underwhelming debut season with Spurs, but the move never came to fruition.

The midfielder did enjoy a weird and brief resurgence at Barcelona, where he won a La Liga title in between stints in China. That shows there was a decent footballer there in the right set-up, but he never looked particularly well-suited to Premier League football.

CM: Paul Pogba

A controversial pick, given that the received wisdom about Pogba is that he was one of the most talented players of his generation but his career went off track by making the wrong move in signing for Manchester United in 2016.

Who’s to say that in a different environment, he wouldn’t have consistently realised his potential as one of the world’s best? There’s every chance he would’ve been a great success at Chelsea.

“Paul could have left [Juventus] last year because Mourinho – then at Chelsea – really wanted him,” Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola told Rai Sport in 2016.

“But Juventus and I had an agreement: win the league title and the Champions League, then he can go.”

Mourinho got his man at Manchester United in the end, and we saw how that turned out. We’re not convinced their relationship would’ve turned out any differently at Chelsea.

READ: A timeline of Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho’s turbulent relationship

LW: Robinho

“I wanted to go to Chelsea,” Robinho told FourFourTwo in 2017.

“Scolari told me that I could make a difference for him in the team.

“However, Real Madrid ended up badly with them, they didn’t like the way that Chelsea sold shirts with my name on them before the deal was done.”

The Brazilian forward went on to join Manchester City instead as their first marquee signing of the Sheikh Mansour era.

Robinho did alright for City, but from there his career never quite hit the heights expected.

ST: Andy Carroll

Midway through the 2017-18 season, Chelsea opened talks with West Ham over signing the big ponytailed Geordie in the winter window.

It’s said that the Blues identified the striker in a bid to “ease the workload on Alvaro Morata”.

No agreement could be reached. Carroll ended up seeing out his contract at West Ham before returning to boyhood club Newcastle, where he scored a grand total of one goal in two years. Nowadays he’s turning out for Ligue 2 outfit Amiens.

None of that exactly screams “the one that got away”.

ST: Anthony Martial

Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev claimed another club “offered even more than United” in the summer of 2015.

According to the Manchester Evening News that club was Chelsea, but Martial is said to have rejected the Blues in favour of a move to Old Trafford. Three years later Chelsea reportedly revisited the idea of signing the striker but couldn’t make it happen.

Like Pogba, it’s not difficult to imagine an alternative reality where Martial left United (or never joined in the first place) and enjoyed a great career elsewhere. The potential was certainly always there.

But Chelsea will look at the 12 Premier League goals he’s scored in the last four seasons and have few regrets at failing to land his signature.

Chelsea's 'bullet dodged' XI of transfer targets missed out on

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