Mudryk, Kounde, Willian and Chelsea's complicated history with transfer heists
Barring a last-second setback, Chelsea are about to steal highly touted Ukranian forward Mykhailo Mudryk away from Arsenal as GOAL understands the Blues have hijacked the Gunners' move for the Shakhtar Donetsk winger.
Mudryk is far from the only player to be involved in dramatic Chelsea transfers with late twists. Just last summer, for example, Barcelona hijacked a move that would have seen defender Jules Kounde head to Stamford Bridge.
GOAL is here to provide you with a run-down of their complicated transfer history.
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Arjen Robben (PSV to Chelsea)
Back in the summer of 2004, a 20-year-old Arjen Robben was one of the hottest properties in European football after a bright start to his career at PSV.
Manchester United moved quickest for the Dutchman, and he was due to sign for the club after visiting their training ground, but Chelsea swooped in at the last minute to gazump their rivals.
The Blues saw a £12 million bid for Robben accepted, over double the fee United had offered, and he was then integrated into Jose Mourinho's ranks. The winger played a key role in Chelsea's title 2004-05 and 2005-06 title triumphs before leaving for Real Madrid in 2007.
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Jon Obi Mikel (Lyn to Chelsea)
Chelsea actually pulled off one of the most famous transfer heists of all time back when they snapped up Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel from Norwegian outfit Lyn Oslo.
Manchester United had announced Mikel as a new official signing in April 2005 and he was even presented to the media at a press conference, only for the Blues to claim that they had already reached an agreement with Mikel's agent.
A long-winded legal battle ensued, and some 14 months later Mikel was unveiled at Chelsea, where he went on to win two Premier League titles and the Champions League.
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Willian (Anzhi Makhachkala to Chelsea)
Chelsea beat another Premier League rival to a top signing in 2013 as they managed to tie up a deal for Anzhi Makhachkala midfielder Willian.
The Brazilian initially completed a medical at Tottenham ahead of a reported £30 million ($37m) move, but Abramovich personally intervened to convince the player to head to west London instead of the north.
Willian signed a five-year contract at Chelsea, and ended up staying through to 2020 after establishing himself as a key member of the first-team squad, with a total of five trophies collected during his time at Stamford Bridge.
Raphinha (Leeds to Barcelona)
Fast forward to the summer of 2022, and Chelsea's luck in the transfer market changed rather drastically for the worse.
The Blues set their sights on Leeds United winger Raphinha following another impressive individual campaign for the Brazilian winger, and GOAL confirmed that they were willing to pay up to £55m ($67m) for his services.
Leeds officials were initially eager to accept, but Raphinha had previously agreed to personal terms with Barcelona and always had his heart set on a move to Camp Nou.
Chelsea turned their attention to finalising a deal for Manchester City attacker Raheem Sterling instead as Barca went on to confirm the signing of Raphinha on July 15.
Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus to Bayern Munich)
Chelsea registered their interest in Matthijs de Ligt after it became apparent that he was seeking a way out of Juventus - where he struggled to live up to expectations following a big-money move from Ajax in 2019.
The Blues were also ready to fork out a sizeable fee for the Netherlands international, but ended up dropping out of the race when it became clear that he preferred a move to Bayern Munich.
The German champions officially landed De Ligt in a €77 (£64m/$77m) deal on July 19, 2022, with Chelsea forced to go back to the drawing board with regards to defensive targets.
- FC Barcelona
Jules Kounde (Sevilla to Barcelona)
Chelsea focused much their efforts on Kounde last summer after missing out on De Ligt. The Frenchman came close to joining the Blues in prior windows and the club maintained contact with Sevilla thereafter in the hope of reaching an agreement.
The Premier League giants offered £55m ($67m) for Kounde, who even lined up Romelu Lukaku's old house to live in following the striker's return to Inter on loan, but Barca ultimately broke their hearts once again.
Mykhailo Mudryk (Shakhtar Donetsk to Chelsea)
Arsenal looked like the certain destination for the Ukrainian winger in the initial stages of the January transfer market with the player even expressing his desire to move to north London with a number of less-than-subtle social media posts.
Former Gunner Bacary Sagna went on the record to say he was certain Mudryk would be linking up with Mikel Arteta and Co.
However, in a dramatic move, the Chelsea board flew to Poland at the last moment and managed to reach a verbal agreement over a €100 million ($108m/£89m) transfer.