Chelsea's expensive flops as Havertz and Werner struggle

Frank Lampard hopes Timo Werner and Kai Havertz can emulate Eden Hazard despite slow starts… but as Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres have proved, Chelsea’s big-money moves don’t always work out

  • Kai Havertz and Timo Werner cost Chelsea a combined £172m in the summer
  • Both have struggled to hit the heights so far since their big money arrivals
  • Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is convinced the pair will thrive given time
  • He cited the example of Eden Hazard, who started slowly but became smash hit
  • However, for every Hazard or Didier Drogba, there’s been a costly Chelsea flop 

Frank Lampard remains optimistic that expensive summer arrivals Timo Werner and Kai Havertz can still be a success at Chelsea.

The German pair did both score in Sunday’s 4-0 FA Cup win over League Two side Morecambe to end goal droughts.

But more might reasonably have been expected of two players who cost Chelsea a combined £142million during the club’s splurge of spending before the season.

Frank Lampard insists Timo Werner (right) and Kai Havertz (left) will come good at Chelsea

The Chelsea boss has backed the German duo to overcome their rocky starts at the club

Lampard hopes they will emulate Eden Hazard, who became integral to the Chelsea team following a slow start at Stamford Bridge.

‘The people that question them should look at other top players that have come at a young age to this country,’ Lampard told talkSPORT.

‘Eden Hazard being a great example. He came here and became one of our greater players ever.

‘It’s not an easy transition to this league. It’s a hard league and I think people that question them should give them time because they are great lads and we signed them for now and the future.

Werner ended a 12-game goal drought by scoring in Chelsea’s 4-0 win over Morecambe

Lampard compared the duo’s slow starts to Eden Hazard’s, who went to become a club legend

‘I understand the questions as it’s the world we live in. They will prove to be big players for the club.’

But while Lampard hopes Werner and Havertz develop into Hazard-style successes, Chelsea have certainly had their fair share of expensive failures during the Roman Abramovich era.


Signed from AC Milan in 2006, £30m

There’s no question that in his pomp, Shevchenko was one of the deadliest strikers in world football.

Unfortunately by the time Chelsea signed him as a 30-year-old in 2006, the Ukrainian was past his best.

That seemingly mattered little to Abramovich, who had wanted to see Shevchenko line up in Chelsea colours for some time and apparently manager Jose Mourinho would just have to put up with it.

Chelsea paid AC Milan an English record £30million and though there were some good moments – including a memorable goal against Tottenham at White Hart Lane – he managed just nine Premier League goals in 48 appearances across two uninspiring seasons.

In the end, Chelsea loaned him back to Milan, with Luiz Felipe Scolari having little use for him.

Andriy Shevchenko had been a great striker but was well past his best when at Chelsea


Signed from Liverpool in 2011, £50m

Torres, who had been unstoppable for Liverpool but overnight turned into a complete damp squib at Chelsea, could be considered Shevchenko Mark II.

It looked a phenomenal coup when Chelsea managed to prize the Spanish striker away from rivals Liverpool in January 2011, paying a British transfer record £50m.

Making his debut on February 6, it wasn’t until April 23 – after 903 minutes of football in a Chelsea shirt – that Torres finally opened his account for them.

Consecutive managers tried and failed to get Torres back to his Liverpool form and in the end he managed just 20 Premier League goals in 110 appearances.

He did, however, score the goal against Barcelona that sealed Chelsea’s progress to the 2012 Champions League final but despite European success, Chelsea fans still considered him a byword for ‘expensive flop’.

Fernando Torres, one of world football’s deadliest strikers, seemingly became cursed when he swapped Liverpool for Chelsea in a British record £50million in January 2011


Signed from Manchester City in 2005, £21m

Mourinho was keen to use Abramovich’s colossal spending power to buy some of English football’s brightest talents during his first spell in charge at Chelsea.

But the £21m paid to Manchester City for Wright-Phillips proved far too much. The common excuse given was that the winger wasn’t given enough game time amid stiff competition in a talented squad.

Yet Wright-Phillips played 125 games for Chelsea in three seasons, so it wasn’t for lack of opportunity. In reality, he struggled to adapt to how the team played and he duly returned to City in 2008 for a fraction of what Chelsea had paid.

Shaun Wright-Phillips (left) played 125 times for Chelsea but struggled to make an impression


Signed from Parma in 2003, £15.8m

One of the first signings of the Abramovich era at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea paid £15.8m amid a summer spree to bring in Romanian striker Mutu from Parma.

Things certainly started well, with Mutu netting four goals in his opening three games for the club though he only ended up with 10 from his first season.

Then things unravelled very quickly. Mutu and Mourinho didn’t get along, with a war of words ensuing over whether or not Mutu had been injured for an international match.

That was followed by the bombshell news that Mutu had failed a drugs test after testing positive for cocaine use. He was banned from football for seven months and months of legal wranglings between player and club over a breach of contract followed.

In 2008, FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber ordered Mutu pay Chelsea £16m in damages, something Mutu exhausted every single avenue in trying to overturn.

Despite this acrimonious end to his time at Chelsea, Mutu actually carried on playing when his ban expired, first with Juventus and then Fiorentina.

But it’s certainly an episode Chelsea wish to forget.

Adrian Mutu’s Chelsea career was wrecked when he tested positive for cocaine in 2004


Signed from Manchester United in 2003, £15m

Juan Sebastian Veron had proved a £28m failure at Manchester United, yet Chelsea believed they could get the best out of the Argentine and prove a point to their rivals at Old Trafford.

Paying about half the English record fee United had paid for the midfielder, Veron made the perfect start to his Chelsea career by scoring away at Anfield on the opening day of the 2003-04 season.

Dogged by injury woes and unable to stick the pace of the Premier League, Veron managed a mere 14 appearances in his one season in Chelsea’s squad.

Mourinho immediately saw him as surplus to requirements and loaned him to Inter Milan for two seasons, with Italian football proving more to his liking.

After his struggles at United, this was a Chelsea gamble that most definitely didn’t pay off.

Having struggled at Manchester United, Juan Sebastian Veron wasn’t any better at Chelsea


Signed from Athletic Bilbao in 2018, £72m

Kepa remains a Chelsea player, so perhaps it is harsh to completely write him off.

But you know your stock has fallen from being the world’s most expensive goalkeeper to something of a laughing stock when the Morecambe bench are shouting ‘shoot’ when their players got within 40 yards of your goal.

The Spaniard cost Chelsea a cool £72m but appeared to be the perfect replacement for Thibaut Courtois.

And his first season was positive enough but his second was so littered with mistakes and errors of judgement that Lampard decided to go out and buy a replacement in Edouard Mendy.

His confidence shot, Kepa seems destined to warm the bench for Chelsea in any game of importance until someone comes along to buy him.

Kepa started off brightly after his £72m arrival at Chelsea but has become error-prone since


Signed from Monaco in 2017, £40m

Part of a Monaco side that had just dumped Manchester City out of the Champions League, it looked as though Bakayoko had everything needed to become the latest in a long line of world class Chelsea midfielders.

That prompted the Blues to outlay £40m, which quickly proved to be a complete waste of money.

Bakayoko somehow managed to play 43 games during his first season despite a deep squad and plenty of poor performances which led to severe criticism from fans and pundits alike.

Subsequent Chelsea managers to Antonio Conte haven’t been much inclined to give him a second chance though technically Bakayoko remains on the club’s books.

He has been loaned to AC Milan and back to Monaco in his last two seasons and now finds himself at Napoli.

Tiemoue Bakayoko never looked the part at Chelsea despite the club spending £40m on him


Signed from Real Madrid in 2017, £60m

Chelsea were reigning Premier League champions when they spent a chunky £60m on striker Morata in 2017 and signing a player who’d just won the Champions League seemed an ominous statement of intent.

Alas, for all Morata’s undoubted ability, he became just the latest Chelsea club record buy to have a torrid time at the club.

A return of just 24 goals in 72 games over his season-and-a-half there failed to justify such a huge price tag and Morata later revealed he was driven mad by his time at the club.

‘I had the feeling that when I got into space, my team-mates looked at me and I knew they thought I wouldn’t do anything good with the ball. It was driving me crazy,’ he said later.

Morata rediscovered his scoring touch during a loan spell at Atletico Madrid and Chelsea did ultimately recoup most of their outlay.

Alvaro Morata’s time with Chelsea drove him to distraction as he struggled for goals


Signed from CSKA Moscow in 2009, £18m

There seemed little rhyme or reason as to why Chelsea paid a chunky £18m to sign Russia international Zhirkov in 2009. It’s fair to say it was a purchase driven by a higher power than manager Carlo Ancelotti.

The left-back did hold his own with a handful of good performances but he always had his work cut out to dislodge Ashley Cole from the Chelsea side.

A recurring ankle injury didn’t help matters and in the end Zhirkov played 49 times for the club over a couple of disrupted seasons before Chelsea cut their losses and sold him to Anzhi.

A bandaged Yuri Zhirkov soldiers on during a match against Bolton Wanderers in April 2010


Signed from Leicester City in 2017, £35m

One of the more curious Chelsea signings of the past few years. 

Drinkwater may have won the Premier League with Leicester in 2016 but it wasn’t too clear why Chelsea would want him given their many midfield options, let alone pay £35m.

He was always destined to play a bit-part role and so it proved with just five Premier League starts during an injury-interrupted first season at Chelsea.

Maurizio Sarri clearly didn’t care for him with Drinkwater not playing at all during 2018-19 and though he is now back at Chelsea via loan spells with Burnley and Aston Villa, there doesn’t seem to be a route back.

Indeed, the 30-year-old wasn’t even allocated a shirt number at the beginning of the current campaign and his old number was given to Thiago Silva.

Currently an over-age player in Chelsea’s under-23 team, Drinkwater suffered the indignity of being sent off in a game with Tottenham last month. 

Danny Drinkwater sees red during Chelsea’s under-23 game with Tottenham last month

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