The revolving door at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge has seen managers come and go, with a conveyor belt of footballing talent also following suit at the club over the past 10 years. Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich has pumped ridiculous amounts of money into the London side in order to create the ultimate football machine.
The Bridge has seen some of the greats over the years - Ron Harris and Jimmy Greaves to name a few that date back to the pre-pantomime transfer window days who worked their magic here.
Frank Lampard and John Terry (both experiments of the West Ham school of excellence) both made their name at Chelsea, while cult heroes like Gianfranco Zola and Marcel Desailly graced the Blues with their brilliance in pre-Champions League Blues sides.
But it is without doubt that the driving force behind the club's success in recent years has been the aggressive and expensive transfer policy that Abramovich's billions has created.
Big money players have come and gone, some with success and silverware. Most though have drifted into anonymity and often haven't coped with the stresses of a big price tag, a la Fernando Torres, Andriy Shevchenko, Adrian Mutu, Mateja Kezman, Juan Sebastian Veron.....you get the picture.
Few of the household names we know today owe thanks to Chelsea's 'loose' transfer policy. Didier Drogba became the first African player to reach the 100 club with the Blues, having excelled since completing his big money move from Marseille in 2004.
Since Abramovich's inception, the likes of Petr Cech, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien, Ricardo Carvalho and Arjen Robben have gone on to triumph with Chelsea and some of the biggest clubs in Europe. However very few stay at the Bridge; as the aforementioned revolving door keeps on spinning it continuously throws out players often in their prime and is unforgiving for those who don't deliver.
The exception to the rule however is Serbian powerhouse Branislav Ivanovic. Arriving in 2008 amidst the madness of a Chelsea transfer spree, the Lokomotiv Moscow defender cost Chelsea £9 million. Although his start was slow, not appearing for the side at all in 2008/09 due to lacking match fitness, the appointment of Luis Felipe Scolari ensured the Serbian was in the plans for the future.
Since then, staggeringly, over 80 players have been made either surplus to requirements or gone on to pastures new, with few sticking around for more than a season. However, Ivanovic has gone from strength to strength and has more than justified his £9 million price tag.
Strong, agile, good with his feet and versatile (playing out of position in the 2009/10 campaign at right back saw him make it into the PFA Team of The Year), Ivanovic has silently become one of Chelsea's most reliable and consistent players throughout the years.
One of the greats
He may not adopt an aesthetically pleasing style of play, but his unforgiving defending and his bullish play going forward is one that has gone unnoticed for too long. His recent purple patch in front of goal is tribute to his commitment to the Chelsea team and as of this month the right-back has contributed to more than 60 goals in a Chelsea shirt, scoring 31 goals and 29 assists.
Jose Mourinho is constantly praising the Serbian's performances as he reaches surely what has to be the golden age of his Chelsea career, however the fact that Ivanovic has seen big names come and go throughout his tenure at the Bridge is evidence of his ability to adapt to new managers, new team mates and new positions.
Ivanovic may not be the obvious choice for Chelsea's greatest signing since Abramovich, but the fact that he can withstand a radically changing transfer policy, scores goals from centre back, bullies strikers and has stayed put amidst the constant purge of big name players is surely enough to throw his name in the hat?
Chelsea fans, is Ivanovic the greatest signing of Abramovich's era? If not, who is? Let us know in the comments box below...
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