Ranking the 10 CMs Chelsea have signed since Frank Lampard left

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Frank Lampard was indisputably a Chelsea legend – but who has been the best central midfielder signed by the Blues since he left in 2014?

Since Lampard’s departure, Chelsea have continued to rack up the trophies, but none have quite emulated the England international’s eye for goal or longevity. Despite this, a string of talented midfielders have been signed by the club with varying degrees of success.

We’ve ranked the 10 central midfielders signed by Chelsea since Lampard departed 2014, from worst to best. Note: we’ve only include players to have played for Chelsea to avoid the myriad of midfielders signed for their academy.

10. Danny Drinkwater

In the last two years alone Drinkwater has been charged with drink driving, attacked outside a Burnley nightclub, made one appearance on loan for Sean Dyche’s team, headbutted a team-mate when training for Aston Villa and sent off in an Under-23 match for starting a brawl with a 16-year-old.

Signings don’t come more disastrous than this £35million panic buy.

WATCH: Danny Drinkwater sparks brawl with red card for Chelsea Under-23s

9. Tiemoue Bakayoko

Having established his reputation in that impressive Monaco team, Bakayoko became Chelsea’s second most expensive signing after his £40million move in 2017.

His performances sparked rumours that Antonio Conte had signed Bakayoko’s alien doppelganger instead, the nadir coming when he was sent-off during a 4-1 spanking at Watford. To give him his credit, he did help Chelsea win the 2018 FA Cup final against Manchester United, playing all 90 minutes.

Loan spells with AC Milan and Monaco followed. As successful indicators go, neither taking up the option of making the move permanent would seem pretty damning, and he is now plying his trade for Napoli.

8. Ethan Ampadu

Capable of playing in defence and midfield, Ampadu was picked up at the age of 16 from Exeter City, for whom he made his debut at the age of 15.

The Wales international, now on loan at Sheffield United after spending last term at RB Leipzig, has been highly rated for a number of years. We just hope shaving his locks will not result in a Sansom-like loss of powers.

7. Kai Havertz

The smart money is still on Havertz coming good, but he’s not done much to justify being ranked any higher here.

6. Ross Barkley

Obviously talented, some Chelsea fans react to seeing Barkley’s name on the team-sheet with the anguished cries of a man suffering from multiple kidney stones.

He’s not a bad squad player to have around, capable of moments of individual brilliance which leave opposition defenders with the stumped air of a group struggling with a difficult pub quiz question.

At the same time, Barkley often bamboozles himself in the process – one penalty miss against Valencia, where he wrestled the ball from his team-mates only to fire over, springs instantly to mind.

Still, we kinda have a soft spot for him. Aston Villa probably suits him more, let’s be honest.

5. Jorginho

Jorginho is more closely associated with Sarriball than Mark Corrigan was with existential angst.

A prolific penalty taker, Jorginho’s standing at Stamford Bridge mirrored Maurizio Sarri’s during his first season – the second coming, then responsible for all the world’s ills, before settling somewhere in the middle, which he ultimately does on this list, too.

Not as good, or bad, as the extremes of social media would have you believe.

4. Mateo Kovacic

Looking startlingly like Mac Miller, Kovacic has become something of a fans’ favourite at Chelsea after something of a sticky start.

Appearing likely to be dumped by the club after Sarri left for Juventus, the Croatia international instead enjoyed a renaissance in midfield and was rewarded with the Player of the Year Award in August 2020.

We will ignore his sending off in the FA Cup Final. Kova is doing just fine.

3. Billy Gilmour

He’s only made a handful of senior appearances since joining from Rangers as a 16-year-old in 2017, but each one has led to excited whispers about Chelsea finding their own ‘Billiesta’.

Given his diminutive stature and magnetic passing ability, it’s not hard to see why Gilmour has got people very excited.

There’s every chance he will top this list in the future, but his potential alone is enough to secure a podium finish here.

READ: Once again, Billy Gilmour has proven he is Chelsea’s very own ‘Billiesta’

2. Cesc Fabregas

Comes second for that assist at Burnley alone. We miss him so much.

1. N’Golo Kante

From being a one-man Duracell bunny in the Chelsea midfield to possessing a smile that could light Las Vegas for a fortnight, it’s impossible not to like Kante.

Happily, his form usually justifies the love. Having been at the centre of rabid social media arguments over his best position, Lampard seems to have settled on utilising Kante’s skills as the best defensive midfielder on the planet.

He’s not bad on the ball either.


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