Chelsea's best transfers of all time: From Hazard and Drogba to Zola and Lampard

Comments (0)
Lampard Drogba Hazard Chelsea GFX
Getty/GOAL
The Blues have made some fantastic purchases down the years, and here GOAL ranks the very best of them...

Chelsea became kings of the transfer market under Roman Abramovich's ownership, as they revolutionised the sport with their big spending.

However, even before the real riches arrived at Stamford Bridge, the Blues were able to make some spectacular signings on a more modest budget.

As such, GOAL picks the best 10 transfers in the club's history...

  1. Eden Hazard
    Getty Images

    Eden Hazard

    "I'm signing for the Champions League winner."

    This dramatic tweet on 28 May 2012 kickstarted a new era of entertainment at Stamford Bridge with Eden Hazard at the helm.

    After their historic Champions League final win over Bayern Munich, Chelsea secured the £32 million signing of the Belgian superstar from French champions Lille.

    His performances in France attracted interest from both sides of the Manchester divide, so Chelsea's signing of Hazard was a real coup, despite not being cheap in monetary terms.

    From there, Hazard lived up to his potential and went on to be the club's talisman for the next seven years.

    With 110 goals 352 matches, Chelsea got the best of Hazard before selling him to Real Madrid for £88 million ($112m) plus substantial add-ons in 2019.

  2. Gianfranco Zola
    Getty

    Gianfranco Zola

    In 2003, ahead of Roman Abramovich's takeover of Chelsea, Gianfranco Zola was voted the club's greatest ever player.

    Signed from Parma for £4.5m, the Italian attacker was part of an exciting Chelsea side who were able to qualify for Europe and secure a host of major cup wins.

    Zola was loved by all in English football, bringing entertainment to the pitch and a positive open personality off it.

    He became Chelsea's first player to win the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award in 1996–97.

    His time at Stamford Bridge finished having won five major honours with Chelsea, including the Cup Winners' Cup.

    It was players such as Zola that attracted Abramovich to Chelsea in the first place and, reluctantly, the legendary Blues star rejected a contract offer from the Russian oligarch in 2003 so he could play for his boyhood club Cagliari before retiring.

  3. Didier Drogba
    Getty

    Didier Drogba

    Didier Drogba is known as 'The King' in and around Stamford Bridge.

    The Ivorian arguably scored Chelsea's most important goal ever, rising highest in the 88th minute of the 2012 Champions League final to power an equalising header past Manuel Neuer.

    The Blues would go on to win lift the European Cup for the first time in their history, and shortly after that, the £24m signing from Marseille was voted the club's greatest ever player in a newly commissioned poll.

    Drogba was truly a big-game player and scored many of the key goals that helped him secure 12 trophies across two spells in west London.

  4. Charlie Cooke

    Charlie Cooke

    Chelsea signed Charlie Cooke from Dundee United for a club-record £72,000 in 1966. 

    He played in a legendary side managed by Tommy Doherty that featured the likes of Peter Bonetti, Peter Osgood and Alan Hudson. 

    They would go on to win the famous 1970 FA Cup final against Leeds United, which is regarded as one of the dirtiest matches in English football history. 

    In the replay at Old Trafford, Cooke would set up Osgood's extra-time winning goal, and Chelsea would also win the Cup Winners' Cup against Real Madrid the following year with Cooke in their side.

    He made 410 appearances for the club and he then returned as manager just two years after he left. He is credited with helping to save the club from financial ruin as he got the side promoted from the Second Division back to the top flight. 

  5. Frank Lampard
    Getty Images

    Frank Lampard

    Frank Lampard will forever be written into Chelsea's history after his £11m move from West Ham in 2001. 

    The pre-Abramovich signing survived the new era and began to excel under manager Jose Mourinho, who ended the club's 50-year wait to win the league title. 

    Lampard went on and became the club's highest scorer of all time, netting 211 times from midfield over his 13-year spell in west London. 

    With the goals came 11 major honours, and Lampard would return to become the club's manager amid a period where the Blues faced a transfer ban. 

    Like many who coached him, he was ultimately sacked, but his legacy at Chelsea remains.

  6. Roy Bentley
    Getty Images

    Roy Bentley

    Roy Bentley is the oldest name on this list having signed for Chelsea in 1948 after leaving the military shortly after the Second World War. 

    Signed for £11,000 from Newcastle, Bentley would write himself into Chelsea's history books through his goalscoring record.

    For eight consecutive seasons, he was the top scorer at Chelsea, culminating in his side winning their first-ever top-flight title in the 1954-55 season. 

    Bentley remains in the club's history books as the fifth-highest goalscorer, level with the immortal striker Peter Osgood. 

  7. Cesar Azpilicueta

    Cesar Azpilicueta

    The current club captain became the first Chelsea's player to win a full clean sweep of trophies in 2022 after helping them secure the Club World Cup. 

    Azpilicueta marked a glorious career by lifting the last trophy that eluded both him and owner Abramovich, making it nine trophies in 10 years since he joined as an unfancied full back from Marseille in 2012. 

    In a career marked by consistency, Azpilicueta has risen to seventh in the club's all-time appearance list.

    The 32-year-old's leadership qualities have meant that he can be a link between the old era of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba to a new one led by manager Thomas Tuchel. 

  8. Marcel Desailly
    Getty Images

    Marcel Desailly

    Many were stunned when Chelsea signed one of the world's best defenders in Marcel Desailly back in 1998.

    Arriving for £4.6m from AC Milan, the World Cup and Champions League winner arrived into a poor training ground while the club was looking to modernise.

    In his time at Chelsea, he won only one major honour, but also added a Euro 2000 success with his country.

    However, his greatest legacy could well be his influence on John Terry, whom he helped guide in his early career before the England international went on to dominate in Chelsea's defence for years to come.

  9. Petr Cech

    Petr Cech

    Arriving in 2004 for £7m from Rennes, Petr Cech felt like a luxury signing in goal with Carlo Cudicini already performing well.

    Furthermore, while the fee may seem low today, it was the most the club had ever paid for a goalkeeper as his signing kick-started the Abramovich era.

    Cech quickly proved himself worth every penny as he won 12 major honours, including the Champions League, in his 11-year spell at the club.

    He was a giant in the 2012 final against Bayern Munich, saving Arjen Robben's penalty in extra time before then stopping two more spot-kicks in the shootout.

    His influence at Chelsea continues today, where he has taken on the role of technical and performance advisor.

    He acts as a link between the football operation and club, and he was especially involved in the signing of Edouard Mendy, who has replicated Cech's success since he joined in 2020.

  10. Eddie McCreadie
    Central Press/Getty

    Eddie McCreadie

    Eddie McCreadie arguably influenced Chelsea's history more than anyone else on this list after signing for the club for £5,000 from East Stirlingshire in 1962. 

    After choosing the Blues over Fulham, McCreadie helped the club regain promotion to the First Division under Tommy Doherty and remained at the club over a glorious decade. 

    In that time, he scored the winner in the 1965 League Cup final, reportedly dribbling 80 yards before firing past Gordon Banks in a 3-2 win over Leicester City. He also won the FA Cup and Cup Winners' Cup.

    It was upon his retirement in 1973 when he made his biggest impact on Chelsea, though, as they were facing financial ruin by the time he was appointed manager in 1975.

    With no money to spend, McCreadie earned the club an unlikely promotion by pushing through talented youngsters alongside some older players from his decade as a player. 

    Many believe that promotion halted a rapid decline in west London.