Ranking every first team signing Antonio Conte made at Chelsea

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte’s stay at Chelsea may have been short but he still managed to win the Premier League and FA Cup at Stamford Bridge.

Conte managed the club between 2016 and 2018, finding instant success in the league after switching to a 3-5-2 formation. His second year wasn’t nearly as successful but he still beat Manchester United and Jose Mourinho in the FA Cup final at Wembley before being sacked.

We’ve taken the pleasure of ranking every first-team player Conte signed for Chelsea from worst to best.

11. Danny Drinkwater

After buying N’Golo Kante in 2016, Chelsea returned to Leicester City a year later and signed his former midfield partner for £35million.

And Drinkwater’s spell at Stamford Bridge has been, to use the technical term, a shitshow.

He’s made plenty of headlines – most notably for headbutting a team-mate during a loan spell at Aston Villa before starting a brawl with a 16-year-old in an Under-23s match – without ever showing a shred of competence in Chelsea’s midfield.

Drinkwater is currently on loan at Championship side Reading and his Chelsea contract expires in 2022. A renewal is considered unlikely.

10. Tiemoue Bakayoko

A key part of that Monaco side that made it to the Champions League semi-finals in the 2016-17 campaign, Bakayoko has floundered since swapping the French Riviera for west London.

Signed for £36million in 2017, the combative midfielder has made just 29 Premier League appearances in the four seasons he’s been registered as a Chelsea player – that’s around £800,000 for each appearance Bakayoko has made.

Loan spells to AC Milan, Monaco and Napoli haven’t resulted in anything permanent (yet) and the Frenchman, officially, remains a Chelsea player and arguably the biggest disappointment on this list.

9. Alvaro Morata

Hopes were high for Morata but he soon fell foul of Chelsea’s unfathomable striker curse.

The Spain international, signed for £60million from Real Madrid, struggled up front and his confidence visibly shrank with every miss. It was hard not to feel sorry for him.

A temporary move to Atletico Madrid in 2019, which later became permanent, was in everybody’s best interests and Morata’s legacy as one of Chelsea’s all-time biggest flops is safely secured.

8. Eduardo

Who? In three seasons at Stamford Bridge, Eduardo did not make a single first-team appearance and didn’t even receive a Premier League winner’s medal in 2017.

Still, the veteran goalkeeper was better value than the three aforementioned signings.

7. Davide Zappacosta

A £28million transfer, two seasons at the Bridge, an FA Cup and a Europa League, two seasons out on loan, signed for Atalanta in 2021.

Was Zappacosta worth the money? Probably not.

Is he saved from a lower ranking by the inadequacies of others? Most certainly.

6. Michy Batshuayi

Despite spending more time out on loan than an aged library book, Batshuayi has scored at a healthy rate of one goal every 93.3 minutes and even bagged the winner at West Brom which clinched the 2016-17 Premier League title.

He’s remarkably still on Chelsea’s books despite four temporary moves away since 2017 and it’s hard to see him ever becoming a first-team regular at Stamford Bridge.

They’ve had worse strikers though. We’ll give him that much.

5. Willy Caballero

Never convincing enough to nail down a regular spot but Caballero served his purpose as a back-up goalkeeper since joining Chelsea in 2017.

The veteran shot-stopper, whose most memorable moment came as the unwitting straight man in the Sarri/Kepa argument at Wembley, made 38 appearances for Chelsea before being released in 2021.

4. David Luiz

Luiz was already a cult hero at Chelsea when Conte decided to bring the defender back to Stamford Bridge for £34million in 2016.

His presence steadied the defence (no, really) and Luiz flourished in Conte’s new formation, winning the league title and securing a place in the PFA Team of the Year for 2016-17 – probably the best form of his entire career.

Another Europa League and FA Cup followed before he decided to move on in 2019, following the increasingly well-trodden path to Arsenal where he unofficially became known as ‘Agent Luiz’.

3. Antonio Rudiger

It wasn’t so long ago that Rudiger seemed destined to leave Stamford Bridge but now Chelsea are desperate to extend his contract.

In an efficient Thomas Tuchel team, Rudiger plays the important role of chaos agent – and the supporters love him for it.

Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger

READ: Rudiger’s tongue-out glare: The act of a chaos agent Chelsea can’t lose

2. Marcos Alonso

Alonso was brought to London on transfer deadline day for £23million and it has been money well spent ever since.

With a penchant for free-kicks and a reliableness that has seen him picked by four Chelsea managers, Alonso has made 177 appearances and has lifted five pieces of silverware for the club.

Yes, Chelsea may try and replace him every season but the Terminator-like Alonso keeps on thriving at Stamford Bridge.

1. N’Golo Kante

Let’s be honest, there was only ever going to be one winner.

Bought in over the summer of 2016, Kante was at the heart of a Chelsea team that won the Premier League title a year later – a feat that helped the diminutive midfielder scoop the PFA’s Player of the Year award.

And he’s done alright since too. Quite simply a fantastic footballer and a fantastic human being too.

READ: ‘He never said no’ – 12 reasons why it’s impossible not to love N’Golo Kante

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