Chelsea's 15 African players of the Premier League era ranked

Chelsea's Ghanaian midfielder Michael Es

Chelsea have reached an agreement to sign Hakim Ziyech from Ajax this summer.

After recently emerging from their transfer ban, the arrival of the Moroccan marks the first signing of the Frank Lampard era and the 16th African player to move to Stamford Bridge since 1992.

Ziyech joins a long list of incredible players including Didier Drogba and George Weah who have pulled on the famous blue jersey from African nations.

Derek Smethurst was the first ever African player to sign for Chelsea in the 1970s, before Mark Stein opened the floodgates for stars from the 'Mother of Mankind' almost 20 years later.

So, in light of Ziyech's arrival and Chelsea's long history with African stars, we've decided to rank the club's first-team players who have hailed from the continent in the modern era.

Chelsea's African players

Check out our full ranking down below and start thinking where Ziyech will find himself when his Chelsea career gets underway.

15. Pierre Issa

Errr, yeh. One of the weirdest signings in Chelsea history and we can't put the South African defender any higher than rock bottom after playing a grand total of zero minutes on loan from Marseille.

Portrait of South Africa national soccer team defe

14. Baba Rahman

Jose Mourinho made some bizarre signings after winning the Premier League in 2015 and deploying Rahman on 23 occasions, including 15 times in the league, seemed a serious downgrade.

The Ghana international was given the boot as soon as Antonio Conte arrived and it's miraculous that Rahman is still technically a Chelsea player despite not playing in half a decade.

WAC RZ Pellets v Chelsea - Friendly Match

13. Bertrand Traoré

Traore was another player who was given unexpected game time when the proverbial hit the fan during the 2015/16 season and scoring four times in 16 appearances is nothing to be sniffed at.

That being said, he never really looked like a player of Chelsea's standard and has since found his calling with Lyon after spending a season out on loan with, of all clubs, Ajax.

Chelsea v Stoke City - Premier League

12. Mohamed Salah

You could argue that Salah deserves to be further down on the list, but we're giving him the benefit of the doubt after being unfairly exiled by Mourinho despite a solid first six months in England.

His debut goal against Arsenal and a Man of the Match display during a win over Stoke City showed glimpses of the Salah we've seen at Liverpool, but never got the chance to witness in west London.


11. Demba Ba

Ba was a pretty shrewd signing by Rafael Benitez all things considered, scoring crucial goals against Manchester United and Manchester City in the FA Cup during his first six months.

And even when a Stamford Bridge departure looked inevitable in 2013/14, the Senegalese striker still managed to score THAT goal at Anfield and a dramatic winner over Paris Saint-Germain.


10. George Weah

The former Ballon d'Or winner was well past his peak by the time he became a Chelsea player in 2000, but he immediately showed his quality with a debut winner over Tottenham Hotspur.

Five goals in 15 appearances overall, as well as the FA Cup trophy, means we'd feel bad demoting the current Liberian President any further.

George Weah

9. Celestine Babayaro

Babyaro could have finished much higher on this list if he reached his full potential, but game time was difficult to come by with Graeme Le Saux heading the competition at left-back.

Nevertheless, the £2.25 million signing made over 100 appearances for the Blues and was part of the teams that won the Cup Winners' Cup and Super Cup in 1998 and the FA Cup in 2000.

 Celestine Babayaro of Chelsea

8. Samuel Eto'o

Mourinho loves himself a smash-and-grab signing up front and Eto'o was one of his most rewarding gambles, scoring 12 goals in 35 games during as the 'Special One' returned to the Premier League.

Eto'o found the net in crucial games against Arsenal and Tottenham as well as smashing home a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Manchester United.


7. Victor Moses

Moses' Chelsea career looked dead and buried after his first season as, despite scoring 10 goals, he was shipped out on disastrous loan spells with Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United.

But Conte made the game-changing decision to play Moses as a right wing-back and the Nigerian reinvented himself across 78 games in two seasons, winning the Premier League in the former.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Chelsea - Premier League

6. Geremi

Not the most glamorous player by any times, but Geremi was adored by his teammates for consistently being at least a 7/10 every game and playing in every position from right-back to left wing.

The former Real Madrid player was part of Mourinho's omnipotent team of 2004-2006, winning the Premier League (x2), League Cup (x2) and FA Cup for his unquestionable efforts.

Chelsea FC v MLS All-Stars

5. Mark Stein

Despite standing at a minuscule 5' 6" for a striker, the trailblazing South African set a Premier League record for Chelsea by scoring in seven consecutive games during the 1993-94 campaign.

Stein was vital in the Blues avoiding relegation that year and later reaching their first FA Cup final in 24 years, but sadly his time at the club was cut short by Gianluca Vialli and Mark Hughes' arrivals.

Mark Stein of Chelsea

4. Salomon Kalou

So many clubs could do with a Kalou. The Ivorian was more than happy to wait behind the likes of Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres in the pecking order, but would always play his heart out when given the nod.

Sixty goals from over 200 appearances makes for pretty impressive reading and Kalou converted many a penalty during crucial shootouts that saw him win every trophy available to him.

Chelsea v Birmingham City - Premier League

3. John Obi Mikel

It's remarkable just how loved Mikel truly was at Stamford Bridge considering his unglamorous playing style and goal-scoring record of merely six strikes in over 370 appearances.

But that tells you everything you need to know about how brilliantly the Nigerian filled the shoes of Claude Makelele and he dropped some unforgettable displays on the way to Munich 2012.

Chelsea Media Access

2. Michael Essien

What a signing. There's a reason that Mourinho boasts about the father-son relationship he had with the Ghanaian and 'The Bison' was the beating heart of some of Chelsea's greatest ever seasons.

Knee injuries held him back from really making an impact when Mourinho returned, but over 250 appearances in west London makes him a fans' favourite - and rightly so - to this day.

Chelsea v Birmingham City - Premier League

1. Didier Drogba

Duh. Drogba is a bona fide Chelsea legend after scoring over 100 Premier League goals for the club and producing THAT performance against Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League final.

That's not to mention he scored in the 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012 FA Cup finals as well as becoming the first player to ever find the net in three consecutive League Cup climaxes.

Oh, and he even returned for a second stint with the Blues in which, naturally, he won the Premier League for a fourth time and kissed goodbye to the Stamford Bridge faithful in style.


Superb African players

Just as Africa is the mother to mankind, the great continent has also birthed some of Chelsea's greatest players.

From Mikel and Essien bossing the midfield to Stein and Eto'o smashing in the goals, the Blues are greatly indebted to the 54 nations of the world's most diverse and vibrant continent.

Besides, just imagine where the club would be without Drogba. It doesn't bear thinking about.

Chelsea v Manchester City
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