The 5 players Chelsea signed along with Lukaku in 2011 & how they fared

A year after completing an apparently fairy-tale, £97.5million return to Chelsea from Inter Milan, Romelu Lukaku is headed straight back in the opposite direction on loan following a disastrous season in west London.  

Lukaku first joined Chelsea from Anderlecht as an 18-year-old in 2011 but then as now, he struggled to establish himself in the side. Three years after that initial arrival, he was sold to Everton.

But he wasn’t the only arrival at Stamford Bridge in the summer he was signed for the first time. We’ve taken a closer look at the other five players they signed ahead of the 2011-12 season.

Thibaut Courtois

Lukaku wasn’t the only talented Belgian that Chelsea snapped up in the summer of 2011.

Courtois joined the Blues from Genk and was immediately sent out on loan to Atletico Madrid, where he developed into one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

After three successful years in Spain, he returned to Stamford Bridge in 2014 and usurped Petr Cech to become their undisputed No.1. 

The Belgium international then made over 150 appearances for the club over the following four seasons, winning two Premier Leagues, the FA Cup and the League Cup.

Despite Chelsea’s best attempts to keep him, Courtois decided to return to Spain and completed a permanent move to Real Madrid in 2018.

He won a league and Champions League double in 2022, knocking out Chelsea en route to the European Cup and putting in a stunning performance against Liverpool in the final.

Weirdly, he used his interview after that final to frame the victory as a message to the press and fans in England.

“Today I needed to win a final – for my career, for all the hard work, to put respect on my name because I don’t think I have enough respect, especially in England,” he said. “I saw a lot of criticism that I was not good enough or whatever.

“There was a magazine, in March, that didn’t put me in the top 10 [goalkeepers]. I don’t think they have to put me as number one, but not to be put in the top 10 – it’s strange.”

Oriol Romeu

A La Masia academy graduate, Romeu made his senior debut under Pep Guardiola before joining Chelsea in a £4.35million deal.

He made 24 appearances in all competitions in his debut season at Stamford Bridge but suffered a serious knee injury in December 2012 and then failed to regain his place in the side.

The midfielder joined Southampton in 2015 and has since carved out a decent career at St Mary’s, making over 250 appearances for the club.

Juan Mata

Signed from Valencia for £23.5million, Mata enjoyed a brilliant debut season at Chelsea and provided the assist for Didier Drogba’s goal in the 2012 Champions League final. 

The Spain international also established himself as a fan favourite at Stamford Bridge, winning Chelsea’s Player of the Year award in both of his first two seasons. 

But he fell out of favour following Jose Mourinho’s arrival and was surprisingly allowed to join Manchester United in January 2014.

READ: Celebrating Juan Mata at Chelsea: Part creator, part cold-blooded killer

Ulises Davila

After impressing at the Under-20 World Cup in 2011, Davila left Chivas Guadalajara and became the first Mexican to sign for Chelsea, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Javier Hernandez at Manchester United.

But he never played for the Blues due to his inability to secure a UK work permit, spending time on loan at Vitesse Arnhem, Sabadell, Cordoba, Tenerife and Vitoria Setubal.

The 30-year-old returned to his native Mexico with Santos Laguna in December 2015 and is now playing for Macarthur FC in Australia. 

“For sure it’s frustrating because that was my target, to play for Chelsea,” Davilla said in 2019. “But I’m not sad when I look back. I try to be positive and look forward. Every year I went on loan I got better, I got more experience and I grew up as a football player and a person.

“I’m proud of where I played because it was not easy to go from Mexico to adapt, learn English and then have to change club so I’m happy.”

Raul Meireles

Chelsea failed to sign Luka Modric from Tottenham and then turned their attention to Meireles, who had just won the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award during his sole season at Liverpool.

The former Portugal international made 45 appearances in 2011-12 and earned a Champions League winner’s medal, despite missing that famous final in Munich through suspension.

He was then deemed surplus to requirements in September 2012 and joined Turkish side Fenerbahce, where he saw out his playing career. 

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