Chelsea have been one of the richest clubs of the Premier League era but that hasn’t stopped them from making some ill-judged decisions in the transfer market.
Whether under Roman Abramovich or Todd Boehly, the club have never been shy in throwing their financial weight around when it comes to recruitment, nor worried about shipping players out when they feel it is not working.
Not every decision is a smart one, however. We’ve taken a look at 10 players who failed to impress at Stamford Bridge but still went on to shine elsewhere.
Ake spent five years with Chelsea but made just seven Premier League appearances in that time.
Following loan spells with Reading, Watford and Bournemouth, the defender was sold to the Cherries in the summer of 2017 for £20million. From then on, he has shown his class in the top flight.
In three seasons, Ake made 121 appearances under Eddie Howe, scoring 11 goals in the process. After the south-coast side were relegated in 2020, he jumped ship for Manchester City.
The Netherlands international ended his first campaign at the Etihad with Premier League and League Cup winner’s medals and played a big part in their treble-winning campaign last year.
Bamford was one of many players to find himself trapped in the Blues’ relentless loan system.
In his five years at Stamford Bridge, the striker was loaned out six times. When he left permanently for Middlesbrough in 2017, he did so without a second of Chelsea game-time to his name.
It has only spurred him on, however. After moving to Leeds United in 2018, he became the focal point of Marcelo Bielsa’s rampant side, helping to fire them back into the Premier League in 2020.
In his first season back in the top flight, he scored more goals than any Chelsea player, although injuries have since stalled his career development.
Kevin De Bruyne
You will all know this story by now. Chelsea signed the Belgian from Genk in 2012 and, after giving him just nine run-outs in the first team, sold him on to Wolfsburg in 2014.
Jose Mourinho brought Diarra to west London in 2005 but, after the midfielder made just 13 Premier League appearances in three seasons, he was moved along.
Another brief and underwhelming spell followed at Arsenal before Diarra shone at Portsmouth, where his career experienced a significant boost.
In January 2009, he completed a move from Fratton Park to the Bernabeu. He was a regular in Real Madrid’s midfield for three seasons, although his role diminished when – you guessed it – Mourinho arrived in the Spanish capital.
The Colombian’s dismal spell in the Premier League with both Manchester United and Chelsea is well documented, especially following the consistent brilliance he showed with Atletico Madrid in the years prior.
After leaving the Blues with just one goal in 12 appearances, he returned to parent club Monaco, and the Stamford Bridge faithful could only look on confused as he scored 70 goals in the following three campaigns, helping the side beat PSG to the Ligue 1 title.
Now as regular a starter for the Belgium national team as his older brother, there was a time when Hazard was simply the tag-along who moved to Stamford Bridge alongside his sibling.
He was immediately sent out on loan and never played for the first team in west London. Once Hazard found himself in Germany, however, he started to thrive.
In total, he spent five seasons with Borussia Monchengladbach, scoring 46 goals in 182 appearances. He’s since enjoyed three and a half years at Borussia Dortmund and is now on loan with PSV Eindhoven.
— ' Burak | Dutch League #Eredivisie 🇹🇷🇳🇱 (@DutchLeagues) February 5, 2023
The full-back burst onto the scene with Brighton a few years back and there was talk of an England call-up before an injury cruelly ended his campaign early.
The dynamic youngster spent 11 years in the Chelsea youth system but made just three first-team appearances for the club. He also represented Ghana at the recent World Cup.
Chelsea splashed £17million on the Anderlecht striker in 2011 but only gave him a total of 10 Premier League starts. But he captured everyone’s attention during loan spells with West Brom and Everton, moving permanently to the Toffees in 2014 and then onto Manchester United three years later.
He scored 96 Premier League goals across those spells before moving to Inter Milan in 2019, where has scored a further 64 goals, helping the club to their first Scudetto in over a decade in the process.
It took a club-record £100million to bring him back – only for Lukaku to flop for a second time. Oof.
FFS, Jose. Seriously.
Chelsea finally prised the midfielder away from Charlton in January 2004, and he was immediately given the unenviable task of displacing Frank Lampard or Claude Makelele in Jose Mourinho’s side.
Suffice to say, that did not happen. But in subsequent spells with Newcastle United, Tottenham, West Ham and Fulham, he became a consistent fan favourite.
In total, he made just shy of 400 appearances for the four clubs.