8 former Chelsea players we can’t believe are still playing in 2022

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Chelsea's Alexandre Pato celebrates scoring a penalty in the Premier League match against Aston Villa at Villa Park, Birmingham, 2 April 2016.

It might seem like it if you’re a Chelsea fan, but leaving Stamford Bridge doesn’t mean a player’s football career is over, as these eight former Blues prove.

Chelsea have had an incredible number of players signed to them over the past 20 years, with many sent out on loan time and again. And some who left the club what seems like aeons ago are still going strong now, years later.

We’ve picked out eight ex-Chelsea stars (and we use that term loosely for some) who we can’t believe are still playing in 2022.

Franco Di Santo

Franco Di Santo was doomed before he ever got going at Chelsea. First, he was very unhelpfully dubbed the ‘new Maradona’, then someone had the bright idea of giving him Chelsea’s famously cursed No.9 shirt. No pressure, lad.

He played a few times under Big Phil Scolari, but was never really up to the task and was not particularly prolific at Wigan after leaving Chelsea either.

Following six years in the Bundesliga, he’s embarked on a bit of a world tour, taking in Spain, Brazil, Argentina and now Mexico, where he currently plays for Tijuana aged 33.

Franco Di Santo playing for Chelsea against Burnley in 2008

READ: Ranking every Chelsea No.9 of the Premier League era from worst to best

Victor Moses

It seems like an eternity has passed since Moses was the bright young thing tearing the Championship a new one with Crystal Palace.

It seems like a fair time has passed since he was a Chelsea player too, though that isn’t in fact the case. Indeed, he was contracted to the Blues still as recently as July 2021. Seriously.

He joined Spartak Moscow permanently last summer after a loan spell there, the seventh loan of his Chelsea career.

He’s still at Spartak and is still somehow only 31.

Sam Hutchinson

Sam Hutchinson retired in August 2010. But he came back in 2011 and is still going 11 years later.

Hutchinson was only 21 and still at Chelsea, for whom he made a senior debut aged 17, at the time of his retirement. He took the decision then owing to recurring knee injuries.

“It wasn’t a big call at the time because I hated it,” he told the Guardian in 2017. “I just wanted to stop the pain and stop everything. I never wanted to come back. I didn’t want to play for Chelsea either because I blamed them for it, even though it wasn’t [their fault], it was just what happened.”

An improvement in his condition allowed him to return, however. He first re-signed for Chelsea, but he’s gone on to build a solid career away from Stamford Bridge, most of which he’s spent with Sheffield Wednesday.

Now aged 33, he signed for Reading in the summer.

Salomon Kalou

Kalou is 37 but is still turning out for Djiboutian side Arta/Solar7 alongside former Arsenal and Barcelona man Alex Song.

The club is owned by an Ivorian businessman, who apparently wants to turn them into the PSG of Africa. He seems to be going the right way about it – they won their relatively weak domestic league last year and then bowed out of the CAF Champions League at the earliest possible opportunity.

Still, anything will be an improvement on Kalou’s time at his previous club, Botafogo, where he scored once in 27 games as the Rio de Janeiro side finished bottom of the Brazilian Serie A, 14 points adrift of safety.

Willian

Yeah, we know he’s at Fulham. You know he’s at Fulham too.

But after watching his painfully ineffective displays for Arsenal and Corinthians over the last 18 months, it really is hard to believe he’s still playing Premier League football.

Filipe Luis

Filipe Luis didn’t pull up any trees at Stamford Bridge after signing from Atletico. After just one season and 15 Premier League games, he was back off to Madrid to rejoin Diego Simeone’s ragtag band.

But his difficulties at the Bridge aren’t any sort of indictment of his quality. At his best, the Brazilian was one of the toughest left-backs in world football.

That best is now some way behind him, but, now 37, he’s still pulling on the shirt of Brazilian giants Flamengo, for whom he’s played since 2019, winning two Brazilian titles and a Copa Libertadores.

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc Fabregas has life perfectly figured out.

After a few years at boyhood club Barcelona, he went a spent a few more in salubrious west London – winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup and a Europa League for good measure – before jetting off to spend the last few years of his career sunning himself in Monaco.

Or at least that’s what we thought. Fabregas, 35, has now moved again, this time to the shores of Lake Como in northern Italy, playing for Serie B side Como, who are part-owned by Thierry Henry and for whom Dennis Wise is director of football. Fabregas even got shares in the club as part of his deal to move there.

See what we mean about having it figured out?

Alexandre Pato

Ah, yes, Chelsea legend Alexandre Pato. Honestly, it’s still pretty difficult to believe that he actually turned up in west London, on loan from Corinthians, in 2016. He played just twice and was already well past his scintillating best. But he did score a penalty, so we suppose that’s something.

The Brazilian has since played in Spain, China and back in Brazil for Sao Paulo. He moved to MLS to play for Orlando City in 2021 and spent most of his first season out injured. In 2022, he’s managed to get back on the pitch though and has a pretty respectable three goals and six assists in 22 games.


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