Where are they now? Andre Villas-Boas’ 11 signings for Chelsea

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Gary Cahill celebrates at the final whistle after the FA Cup final against Manchester United, Wembley Stadium, May 2018

Chelsea went to extraordinary lengths to bring Andre Villas-Boas in from Porto as their manager in 2011, yet he lasted less than a season in charge.

The Blues paid a world-record £13million to sign Villas-Boas on a three-year deal, but after a run of poor results was sacked in February 2012, and his replacement, Roberto Di Matteo, would go on to win the FA Cup and Champions League in the same season.

The Portuguese manager signed 11 players during his short stint in charge, and they went on to have mixed success in West London or elsewhere.

Here’s where they ended up.

Raul Meireles

A deadline day signing for £14million after an injury to Michael Essien, the Portuguese hardman joined from Liverpool, citing Villas-Boas as a big influence in his decision to make the move, and was pretty decent in his one season at the club.

Fenerbahce came calling a year later, where he moved for £8million, leaving Chelsea a Champions League winner.

He would play for the Turkish giants for four more years, before retiring in 2016.

Lucas Piazon

A lot of clubs around Europe were interested in the young winger from Sao Paulo, but it was Chelsea who eventually landed Piazon in March 2011, to be registered in January 2012 for around £5million.

You’d think after putting in such effort to land the player, that Chelsea would give him a chance?

Nope.

Piazon joined the Chelsea loan army, with seven loan spells in nine years, with his best spell coming at Fulham.

The Brazilian finally left for good in January 2021, joining Braga on a free transfer.

He managed just one league appearance for Chelsea.

What a waste.

Ulises Davila

Signed from Chivas in Mexico for just under £2million, Davila was set to become the first Mexican to ever play for Chelsea.

Except he never did.

Another loyal member of the Chelsea loan army, the forward embarked on five different loan spells before departing for Santos Laguna in 2016.

Now 30, Davila currently plays for Macarthur FC in Australia, and briefly had a stint at Dehli Dynamos after leaving Chelsea permanently.

Juan Mata

Mata is one of those players who you can’t help but love.

A top-quality midfielder for Valencia and Spain, AVB brought Mata to the club for £23.5million in August 2011.

Mata was sensational for Chelsea, with 32 goals and 58 assists, before being sold to Manchester United by Jose Mourinho in January 2014.

He performed well for United, but never really hit those Chelsea heights again, and now 33, rarely sees the Old Trafford pitch any more.

One of the nicest guys in football, Chelsea fans often think about what might have been if he never left.

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

Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea paid £8million to sign the highly-rated Belgian goalkeeper from Genk, and immediately loaned him out to Atletico Madrid.

Courtois was phenomenal at Atletico for three seasons, winning La Liga and reaching the Champions League final in 2014, knocking his parent club out on the way.

He returned to Chelsea in 2014 and became first choice ahead of the legendary Petr Cech. However, after three seasons, Real Madrid came calling, and he went back to Spain.

After initially struggling at Madrid, Courtois has become a rock at the back since replacing Keylor Navas, and the 29-year-old is firmly established as one of the top keepers in Europe.

Romelu Lukaku

He’s in his second spell with the club now, but it was AVB who initially brought Lukaku to England, in a £13million deal from Anderlecht.

He would eventually leave for Everton, and move on to Manchester United and Inter Milan, before moving back to West London for close to £100million.

His return to the club has been far from ideal, and was dropped from the team entirely after expressing his desire to return to Inter Milan just months after his move to Chelsea.

Lukaku needs to choose his words more carefully…

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku celebrates after beating Arsenal, August 2021.

READ: Five times that Romelu Lukaku has caused controversy by speaking out

Kevin De Bruyne

Not much more needs to be said about this one.

Signed from Genk in January 2012, De Bruyne went on loan to Werder Bremen, and was sold two years later to Wolfsburg.

Chelsea fans need no reminder of the talent they passed up, as he seems to score against them every season…

Patrick Bamford

Bamford joined from Nottingham forest for around £1.6million in January 2012, and was another one who rarely got a chance in the senior side.

However, Bamford developed well after leaving the club in 2017, joining Middlesbrough permanently, before moving to Leeds and really finding his feet under Marcelo Bielsa.

Now a star at Leeds in the Premier League, Bamford finally got international recognition in 2021, when he was called up to the England squad.

A nice success story in contrast to Piazon.

Oriol Romeu

Signed from Barcelona in August 2011, the Spanish midfielder made 33 appearances for Chelsea in between loan spells, before joining Southampton permanently in 2015.

The 30-year-old has 200 Premier League appearances for Southampton, and is a very tidy player in the centre of the park.

Think this worked out well for everyone.

Gary Cahill

Signed from Bolton in January 2012 for around £7.5million, the English centre-back became arguably one of the best in the league over the course of the next decade.

In 290 appearances for the club in eight seasons, he became a reliable defender and a mainstay for England, whilst winning pretty much everything on offer.

Now 36, Cahill is still going strong at AFC Bournemouth in the top end of the Championship.

AVB signed him because he spotted that Cahill’s “technical attributes are immense and his pace is fantastic.”

He was spot on.

Kenneth Omeruo

Yet another player Chelsea bought with no intention of playing, Omeruo signed from Standard Liege in July 2012, and was immediately loaned out to ADO Den Haag.

Five loan spells followed, with his last one at Leganes, with whom he signed permanently in 2019.

He has become a regular starter at the Segunda club, whilst also earning 57 caps for Nigeria. Fair play.


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