Chelsea had an insane number of midfielders after the 2003 summer window

  • Rob Swan
Chelsea manager shows off new signings Joe Cole and Juan Sebastian Veron

July 2 2003 was a landmark day in the history of Chelsea Football Club.

It was the day that Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich purchased the west London outfit in a deal worth £140 million following talks with the club’s long-time chairman Ken Bates, who’d bought the club for just £1 21 years earlier after agreeing to take on debts of £1.5m.

Abramovich stuck with the club’s current manager Claudio Ranieri and handed the Italian coach the funds required to turn Chelsea into Premier League title contenders.

The Tinkerman didn’t hang about. Fourteen signings were made during the summer of 2003, while only five players - Albert Ferrer, Gianfranco Zola, Jody Morris, Graeme Le Saux and Ed de Goey - departed.

In total, Ranieri forked out a cool £111,150,000 on new players - an unprecedented amount of spending by a British club at that time, with Hernan Crespo, Claude Makelele, Damien Duff and Juan Sebastian Veron the highest-profile arrivals.

Chelsea's 11(!) first-team midfielders

Chelsea were left with a ridiculous 11 first-team midfielders on their books after the transfer window had shut. Here’s what they’re up to now…

Claude Makelele

Chelsea v Manchester United

Where is he now?

So good, they named a position after him. Claude Makelele currently works as Paul Clement’s assistant manager at Swansea City.

Frank Lampard

Chelsea's Frank Lampard (C) vies with Bl

Where is he now?

Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer brought an end to his illustrious 21-year playing career earlier this month.

Damien Duff

Damien Duff of Chelsea gets away from a tackle by Jamie Redknapp of Tottenham Hotspur

Where is he now?

A wonderful winger at his peak, Damien Duff retired in 2015 and worked as a pundit for RTE Sport at Euro 2016 last summer.

Joe Cole

Fulham v Chelsea

Where is he now?

The technically gifted attacking midfielder is now 35 and plies his trade for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the NASL.


Geremi scores from free-kick

Where is he now?

Free-kick specialist Geremi retired from football following a brief spell with the Greek side AEL in 2011. He lent support to Gianni Infantino during his FIFA presidential campaign last year.

Alexei Smertin

Chelsea Training And Press Conference

Where is he now?

Alexei Smertin ended his playing career with Fulham in 2008 and now works as a deputy executive director with FC Dynamo Moscow.

Juan Sebastian Veron

Juan Sebastian Veron of Chelsea celebrates after scoring

Where is he now?

"Veron is the best midfielder in the world," Ranieri told reporters after signing the Argentina international from Manchester United. "He is a top player and he will play better with us, but there is a gamble for me. If I get it wrong I will be sacked."

Ranieri was wrong - and he was sacked.

Veron, though, was a world-class midfielder who is currently both the president and a player (he recently came out of retirement aged 41) of his beloved Estudiantes.

Emmanuel Petit

Emmanuel Petit of Chelsea tussles with Giovanni Van Bronckhorst of Arsenal

Where is he now?

The World Cup winner retired at the end of his Chelsea spell in 2004 and now works as a pundit in his native France.

Jesper Gronkjaer

Jesper Gronkjaer of Chelsea and Neil Clement of West Bromwich Albion

Where is he now?

Jesper Gronkjaer retired after winning the 2010-11 Danish Superliga championship with FC Copenhagen.

"I'd like to be able to go jogging when I have played my last football game," he said at the time. "I want a life without aches.”

Alexis Nicolas

Chelsea's Alexis Nicolas(R) battles with

Where is he now?

The English midfielder only played a couple of games for Chelsea before dropping down the leagues. The internet believes that he now works in commercial real estate investment.

Filipe Oliveira

Nyron Nosworthy of Gillingham and Filipe Oliveira of Chelsea

Where is he now?

Another player who only made a few appearances for the Blues before moving on. The one-time Portugal B international now plays for Anorthosis in Cyprus’s top division.

Scott Parker then signed in January

And if that wasn’t enough options for Ranieri, he ended up buying Scott Parker from Charlton Athletic at the end of the January transfer window.

Scott Parker signs for Chelsea

Chelsea finished second in the table that season, 11 points behind Arsenal, and Ranieri was unceremoniously sacked and replaced by Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea v Leeds United

This tweet isn't quite right...

Spot the problem?

Jarosik, Tiago, Smertin, Robben and Wright-Phillips all signed after 2003.

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