Chelsea have gone through a lot of players in the Roman Abramovich era, some memorable, some less so.
Many of those from the first decade of the Russian billionaire’s stewardship of the club have since retired and one, in Frank Lampard, has even managed the club. But a few are still dotted across the planet plugging away as professional footballers.
Here, we take a look at seven former Blues who you might be surprised to learn haven’t hung up their boots just yet.
John Obi Mikel
A stalwart at Stamford Bridge for over a decade, Mikel won nearly early every trophy their was to win with the Blues including two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a Champions League.
After making 249 league appearances for the club, Chelsea fans could have been forgiven for thinking the Nigerian’s career would be coming to a swift end after his departure in 2017. Yet Mikel, now aged 34, is still going strong having just signed for a new team this summer.
Following his exit from west London the holding midfielder’s career did take a slightly odd path – first moving to Chinese Super League side Tianjin TEDA before returning to England to sign for Championship side Middlesbrough just two years later.
His stay in Teesside would not last long, though. After one season he departed for Turkish side Trabzonspor where he played 24 games before cancelling his contract over concerns about the Super Lig continuing through the coronavirus pandemic.
Mikel now finds himself plying his trade at Kuwait SC in the Kuwait Premier League after leaving Stoke, where he spent the 2020-21 season.
Victor Moses Chelsea career was really weird.
After moving from Wigan in 2012, he struggled to establish himself as a winger under Roberto Di Matteo and then Rafael Benitez, making just 12 league starts. Yet he did feature six times as the Blues won the Europa League.
Then came three full seasons out on loan – at Liverpool, Stoke and West Ham – before he returned in 2016 to become an absolutely integral part of Antonio Conte’s Premier League and FA Cup-winning sides in two seasons as a tireless right wing-back.
When Maurizio Sarri arrived, however, Moses was shafted again, spending 18 months on loan at Fenerbahce, six at Inter Milan and a year at Spartak Moscow.
Bizarrely, he was still a Chelsea player as recently as July 2021, when he sealed a permanent switch to Spartak.
It’s easy to forget Quaresma even played for Chelsea. But he did. Five games on loan from Inter Milan in 2009.
He wasn’t very good and was sent back to Inter at the end of the season. He said: “I am returning to Inter to stay. My agent has proposed other clubs, some of them in Italy, but I said ‘no’, I want Inter. I am not afraid of the pressure, or of the whistles at the stadium.”
He got his wish, albeit temporarily. A year and 13 appearances later, he was off, starting an adventure that saw spell in Turkey and the UAE – and a bloody lovely goal at the 2018 World Cup – before he returned to Portugal with Vitoria Guimaraes in 2020, just before his 37th birthday.
The move, were are glad to say, was announced in true Quaresma style…
Vitória have announced the signing of 36-year-old Ricardo Quaresma with exactly the amount of subtlety that signing Ricardo Quaresma deserves. pic.twitter.com/X3KV5fzDeg
— MUNDIAL (@MundialMag) September 7, 2020
Franco Di Santo
Franco Di Santo moved to Chelsea from Audax Italiano for £3.4million as a teenager in 2008, and, after some strong performances for the Chilean side in the Copa Libertadores, a lot was expected of him.
He never lived up to the hype, however, and was shifted to Wigan in 2010 after 16 first-team appearances for the Blues.
Spells with Werder Bremen, Schalke and Rayo Vallecano followed, before he returned to South America with Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro in 2019.
After a year in Belo Horizonte, Di Santo moved on again, this time to San Lorenzo, turning out for a professional club in his native Argentina for the first time in his career.
Atletico, meanwhile, have managed to replace Di Santo with ex-Porto powerhouse Hulk and another former Blue in…
After eight months out of the game, big, bad Diego Costa is back and he’s already going for a league, cup and Libertadores treble in Brazil.
Remy’s brilliant form for Newcastle while on loan there in 2013-14 attracted the attention of the Chelsea hierarchy, who brought him in at the back end of the 2014 summer window.
Remy was never more than a bit-part player during two seasons at the Bridge though, with Diego Costa firmly ahead of him in the striking queue.
Since his departure, he’s spent time in Spain and France and is now playing for Caykur Rizespor, wedged between the mountains and beaches of Turkey’s Caspian Sea coast. Alright for some, isn’t it?
Another talented attacker who Chelsea brought in only to send him out on loan after loan. There’s a theme emerging here.
Sinclair arrived from Bristol City and played just five Premier League games for Chelsea between six different spells away. He moved permanently to Swansea in 2010, before another transfer to Manchester City… where he was loaned out twice with first-team opportunities limited.
After winning three consecutive Scottish titles with Celtic, Sinclair moved back to the North West with Preston in 2019 and is still there. Remarkably, he’s still only 32.