The 13 players Chelsea signed during their first summer of the Roman Abramovich era

What’s the most important result in Chelsea’s history?

Their win against Bolton in 2005 to seal their first championship for 50 years? Winning their first ever Champions League title against Bayern Munich in 2012?


It was their 2-1 win against Liverpool on the final day of the 2002/03 season.

That win clinched the final Champions League place from Liverpool – something that was desperately needed given the financial difficulties Chelsea found themselves in.

And by qualifying for the Champions League, it convinced Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich to buy the club from Ken Bates on July 1.

Not only did Abramovich clear all of the debt, he also proceeded to invest lots of money in the squad.

And Chelsea’s first summer window with Abramovich’s money was pretty unprecedented.

More than £110 million was spent which – 15 years ago – was astonishing.

Manager Claudio Ranieri brought in these 13 players as Chelsea finished second in the league behind undefeated Arsenal.


Jurgen Macho | Free transfer

Macho actually arrived from Sunderland on the same day as Abramovich and his signing was probably lost in the furor.

In fact, Macho was the fourth-choice goalkeeper at Stamford Bridge and, after a bad injury, failed to make a single appearance at the club.

Marco Ambrosio | Free transfer

Another goalkeeper that arrived on a free transfer on the day Abramovich brought the club.

The Italian was signed to be the back-up to Carlo Cudicini and managed eight appearances – including the Champions League quarter-final against Arsenal where Chelsea won 2-1 and progressed.

He left after just one year.

Glen Johnson | £6 million

The first senior signing of the Abramovich era, although Johnson was just 18 at the time.

He only made 71 appearances for Chelsea, though, and never made the right-back slot his own before a move to Portsmouth.

Geremi | £7 million

Geremi had spent a season on-loan at Middlesborough and was snapped up from Real Madrid for £7 million.

Over the course of four seasons, the Cameroonian made more than 100 appearances.

Wayne Bridge | £7 million

Chelsea managed to sign England’s two most promising full-backs at the time in Johnson and Wayne Bridge in 2003.

Bridge’s Chelsea career was more of a success than Johnson’s, lasting 142 appearances, winning the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup during his time.

Damien Duff | £17 million

Now Abramovich was really splashing the cash. Duff arrived from Blackburn, where he had impressed in the Premier League for two seasons. But Duff only lasted three seasons before Chelsea upgraded.

He did play 125 times in that time, winning two Premier League trophies, the League Cup and the Community Shield.

Joe Cole | £6.6 million

Another young English talent. And what a signing he proved to be for just £6.6 million.

Cole remained in west London for seven seasons, playing almost 300 times and winning seven trophies – including three Premier Leagues.

Juan Sebastian Veron | £15 million

Veron had just won the Premier League with Manchester United when Chelsea took a chance on the Argentine. But injury problems saw him make just 14 appearances for the club.

Adrian Mutu | £15.8 million

It started off well for the Romanian but, just over a year after joining Chelsea, he tested positive for cocaine.

He received a seven-month ban from football, ending his Chelsea career.

He did score 10 times in 38 matches, though.

Alexey Smertin | £3.45 million

We have a feeling Abramovich had a say in this one. The fellow Russian was immediately loaned to Portsmouth after arriving at Chelsea.

And after Jose Mourinho replaced Ranieri at the club, Smertin barely got a look in – playing 16 times in total.

Hernan Crespo | £16.8 million

Certainly a statement signing from Abramovich and Chelsea. He initially only lasted one season at the Blues, scoring 12 goals.

However, after a campaign at AC Milan, Crespo returned to Chelsea and bagged a further 13 goals.

Neil Sullivan | £500,000

Yet another goalkeeper! Sullivan actually made eight appearances for Chelsea after signing from Tottenham during the 2003/04 season.

He then moved to Leeds in the Championship.

Claude Makelele | £16 million

The 13th – and possibly the best – signing of Abramovich’s first summer at Chelsea.

The Frenchman was at the club for five seasons – and even had a position named after him. That’s how good he was.

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