Zlatan, Lukaku, Salah: Jose Mourinho's sold players XI

Mourinho holds his head

Love him or loathe him, Jose Mourinho will do whatever it takes to achieve success.

No, he doesn’t obsess over perfect football and no he isn’t out to be adored by fans across the world. But what he does do is win, and his commitment to that has earned him the respect and adoration of many over the years as a result.

It’s Mourinho’s way or the highway. That tends to be the case with most top level managers, but there’s often almost no wriggle room with the Portuguese boss. If he doesn’t like a player, they’re out of his plans.

And while that has led to success for the most part during his career, Mourinho’s policies haven’t always proven the most effective way of doing things.

Look, we’re not about to tell a man who has won two Champions Leagues, two Europa Leagues, two Premier Leagues and countless other trophies how to do his job. But what we are going to humbly suggest is that perhaps the ‘Special One’ hasn’t always had the clearest sense of judgement, particularly with players.

Mourinho has his favourites. That often means he requires the ability to spend what he wants on who he wants when in charge of a club, and can also crucially mean that talented players get brushed aside if he doesn’t fancy them.

Mourinho winking
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 22: Jose Mourinho, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur arrives prior to the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea FC at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on December 22, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

It’s happened countless times before, and now he’s got his mojo back with Roma, it’ll likely happen again. That’s just the way it goes with him. We wouldn’t change him for the world, truthfully. But what we are about to do is highlight some of the biggest talents he’s failed to maximise by sanctioning their sales, prematurely in some cases.

We at GIVEMESPORT have crafted an XI of the greatest players that Mourinho has sold throughout his illustrious, trophy-laden career. Making use of a 3-4-3, there are some ridiculously talented players in this one, past and present.

Be sure to check it out below.

GK: Petr Cech – Chelsea

Mourinho was presented with the issue of picking between now veteran Cech or young up and comer Thibaut Courtois during his second stint at Chelsea. He opted with the latter, resulting in Cech being sold to Arsenal in 2015.

It proved to be the correct decision – for Chelsea, anyway – as Courtois was more than ready for the role of number one, while Cech’s decline became apparent at the Emirates.

Cech for Arsenal
STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND – JANUARY 17: Petr Cech of Arsenal looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Arsenal at The Britannia Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

CB: William Gallas – Chelsea

Another player he shipped off to Arsenal, Mourinho did actually like Gallas a lot and made use of him during his first spell at Stamford Bridge.

But, with the Frenchman unsure of his future and mulling over a new contract, Mourinho oversaw a deal that included sending him to Arsenal in exchange for Ashley Cole. A decent trade all round.

CB: David Luiz – Chelsea

As Mourinho returned to the Bridge, Luiz was saying his goodbyes. If the Portuguese manager wanted to keep him around, we’re sure he would’ve called off the sale, but that didn’t happen.

Chelsea let Luiz join Paris Saint-Germain for a £50 million fee in 2014. And while they went on to win the Premier League that season, the success was short-lived, and they’d ultimately end up buying back the Brazilian two years later.

Luiz celebrates
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 05: David Luiz of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Watford FC at Stamford Bridge on May 05, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

CB: Leonardo Bonucci – Inter

Securing the club their first ever continental treble, Mourinho will forever remain a legend of Inter Milan. However, he could have done so with yet another top class defender on his books had he not sold Bonucci in 2009.

It’s a tough one, this. Sure, they missed out on a player who would become one of Serie A’s greatest defenders, but the deal to sell Bonucci to Genoa also saw Mourinho obtain Thiago Motta and Diego Milito as a result, the latter of which was absolutely integral to winning the treble.

RM: Mohamed Salah – Chelsea

Yes, we’re playing a 3-4-3 and no, we aren’t playing wing backs. Case closed. Mourinho didn’t fancy a young Salah at all upon his return to Chelsea, barely making use of him and famously criticising a performance against Shrewsbury Town in the League Cup.

That would essentially spell the end of Salah’s time at Chelsea, and he left for good in 2016. A severe lapse of judgement from Mr. Mourinho, considering what the Egyptian winger has since achieved in the Premier League.

Salah for Liverpool
NORWICH, ENGLAND – AUGUST 14: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring their side’s third goal during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Liverpool at Carrow Road on August 14, 2021 in Norwich, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

CM: Kevin De Bruyne – Chelsea

Yet another one that Mourinho probably doesn’t want reminding about, Chelsea sold De Bruyne to Wolfsburg in January 2014, despite initial assurances that he was in the manager’s plans.

Clearly he wasn’t rated, and clearly that was a severe misjudgement. De Bruyne is now arguably the best, most complete midfielder in the world and has been key to Manchester City winning four Premier Leagues in five years under a certain Pep Guardiola. That one is bound to irk Jose.

CM: Juan Mata – Chelsea

Mata was voted Chelsea’s Player of the Year in the two consecutive seasons prior to Mourinho’s return. It was clear to see just how extraordinarily talented the tricky Spaniard was. He also absolutely wasn’t a Mourinho player.

As a result, he was sold to Manchester United in January 2014, halfway through David Moyes’ first season in charge. Mourinho would manage Mata later down the line at Old Trafford, and while he never made him the first name on the team sheet, did get sufficient enough use out of him the second time round. Lesson learned – sort of.

Man Utd's Mata
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 30: Juan Mata of Manchester United celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on September 30, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

LM: Arjen Robben

The Dutch winger made his money skinning people from the right flank much like Salah does, but for the sake of this XI, we’ve shifted him over to the left side.

Robben would likely have joined United in 2004 if it wasn’t for Roman Abramovich dwarfing their offer to PSV at the death. That probably explains why it ultimately never worked out for him under Mourinho, despite a brilliant first season. He was sold to Real Madrid in 2007, and later blossomed at Bayern Munich.

Fofana terms agreed (Football Terrace)

RF: Romelu Lukaku – Chelsea

Right player, wrong time. Upon returning to Chelsea in 2014, Mourinho clearly didn’t think that Lukaku was ready to lead the line in a Premier League title charge, sanctioning the Belgian’s sale and instead trusting a returning Didier Drogba.

Mourinho was always fond of Lukaku, though, and made sure he brought him to Old Trafford as soon as he had the chance to do so at United. A £75m fee was steep, though, and it didn’t quite pay off as they finished Premier League runners up in 2017/18.

CF: Eidur Gudjohnsen – Chelsea

Having struck up a tasty partnership with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the early 2000s, Mourinho wanted something fresh upon his arrival at Chelsea in 2004 – namely Drogba.

Gudjohnsen had to settle for a lesser role and was sold in 2006, after playing his part in the back-to-back Premier League title wins. He went to Barcelona and was then a part of a treble-winning side with Guardiola. Ouch.

Gudjohnsen celebrates
LONDON – DECEMBER 12: Eidur Gudgjohnsen of Chelsea celebrates scoring their second goal during the Barclays Premiership match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Highbury on December 12, 2004 in London. (Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images)

LF: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Inter, Manchester United

Completing the list is Ibrahimovic, who Mourinho has had to wave goodbye to on two occasions, although would probably have kept him both times if possible.

Inter sold Ibrahimovic to Barcelona in 2009 with Samuel Eto’o coming the other way, which didn’t work out for the Swede as he failed to get on with Guardiola like he did with Mourinho. He was reunited with him at United, but left for LA Galaxy in early 2017 after recovering from an ACL injury.

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