When you have a wallet as fat as Chelsea‘s, you can afford to take a punt on a player here and there, but some of their business these past few years has been panicky with a capital P.
The Blues have attempted to be a little more sensible with their purchases of late, especially in the light of their transfer ban and the success of the academy players who have been brought into the first team.
It hasn’t always been like that, though. Here are a few examples of signings which don’t exactly seem smart in retrospect, but also didn’t seem too well thought out at the time.
Normally speaking, when you make a panic signing, it takes more than a few days for you to realise you’ve made a mistake.
The amount of time between Djilobodji arriving at Stamford Bridge and the Senegal defender not being considered good enough for the Champions League? Well let’s just say it was close enough to his arrival that reports were still mentioning the day of the week on which he signed, rather than the date.
Jose Mourinho even admitted the centre-back was not his choice, but rather “the choice of someone I trust completely.”
It says a lot that Chelsea were a hot mess for the entirety of the 2015-16 season and yet Djilobodji was only trusted for one minute of game-time before being loaned out in January and sold the following summer.
— Ladbrokes (@Ladbrokes) January 21, 2016
In addition to Diego Costa, Chelsea were linked with a number of attacking signings in the summer of 2014.
Ultimately, though, Edinson Cavani opted to stay at PSG and Radamel Falcao moved to Manchester United, leaving the Blues still “missing a striker”, in Jose Mourinho’s words, with Costa’s arrival and Didier Drogba’s return balanced out by the departures of Romelu Lukaku, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o.
Enter Remy, available on the cheap from QPR, coming off the back of a decent season on loan at Newcastle and ‘fresh’ from a failed medical at Liverpool. He wasn’t awful for Chelsea, either, scoring seven goals in that first season at a rate of one every 95 minutes. This one broadly worked out.
In January 2016, having finally secured Falcao on loan, Chelsea were already regretting their business.
They were desperately in need of another forward and were linked with a mid-season swoop for Jamie Vardy, which could, if successful, have dramatically changed the last few years of English football.
As we know now, it wasn’t successful. Vardy fired Leicester to the title, and Chelsea signed Pato. The Brazilian’s loan spell brought a goal return of one every 131 minutes, which sounds alright until you realise he played – you guessed it – 131 minutes.
It’s hard to look at Drinkwater’s move as anything but a last-minute panic, considering what happened before and since.
Throughout the summer of 2017, Chelsea had been linked with exciting new additions to strengthen ahead of their title defence. Players like Marco Verratti and James Rodriguez. Players who, not to put too fine a point on it, were not like Danny Drinkwater.
The midfielder had impressed in Leicester’s title win, but the differing fortunes of him and Ngolo Kante in 2016-17 seemed to give a good idea of who was more important. Drinkwater will have been a Chelsea player for three years this summer. He has played less than 1,000 league minutes in that time, including his loan spells.
The cracks were already appearing in Chelsea’s title defence – and, more significantly, Jose Mourinho’s mood – at the start of the 2015-16 season.
Mourinho had already incited the ugly feud with Eva Carneiro during a 2-2 draw with Swansea City and was growing frustrated at the club’s inability to bolster his defence.
John Stones and Raphael Varane, while a left-back was required after Filipe Luis returned to Atletico Madrid.
Even the Daily Telegraph’s headline pointed to an element of panic when they reported: ‘Chelsea try to appease Jose Mourinho frustration with £14million Baba Rahman deal.’
Rahman, to his credit, has lasted longer than Mourinho at Chelsea, albeit he has spent the last four season out on loan.
And the centre-backs Chelsea signed after missing out on Stones and Varane? The aforementioned Papy Djilobodji and Michael Hector.
It’s not so much a case of Giroud being a panic buy, but more one of January 2018 being an entire window of panic.
Among the players linked with a move that month: Ashley Barnes, Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch. With that in mind, they could have done a little worse than bringing in a non-scoring Frenchman.
Giroud still has twice as many goals in Europe as he does in the league, which can’t be too common among strikers.